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The Bionic Knee: Improving Joints without Surgery

Ashley is an avid cyclist who started noticing increased pain earlier and earlier in her exercise routine after she turned 42. When she learned she had an early form of arthritis, she asked her physician if there were any safe, non-invasive treatments for the condition. Her physician told her about the BioniCare Knee Device, an exciting alternative to the use of medications or surgery for knee pain due to joint wear and tear.

“Ashley’s case is somewhat unique,” said Dr. Moshe Lewis, a Physical Medicine and rehabilitation physician at California Pacific Medical Center, St. Luke’s Campus. “Osteoarthritis occurs more frequently in males before the age of 45. Women are more prone to the disease after age 55.”

Osteoarthritis is the breakdown and eventual loss of the articular cartilage in one or more joints and occurs more frequently as we age. This process destroys the cushion-like qualities of cartilage, which is a natural shock absorber. About 50 million American suffer from some form of osteoarthritis and is sometimes found in multiple members of the same family, implying a genetic basis for the condition. (
Knee Anatomy)

With aging, the water content of the cartilage in the knee increases and the protein makeup degenerates. Repetitive use of the joints over the years irritates and inflames the cartilage, causing joint pain and swelling. Eventually, cartilage begins to degenerate by flaking or forming tiny cracks. In advanced cases of osteoarthritis, there is a complete loss of the cartilage cushion between the bones of the joints. The result is friction, leading to pain and reduced joint mobility.

Dr. Lewis specializes in non-surgical treatments for conditions that cause chronic pain, such as arthritis and degenerative disc disease. In the past two years, he has placed the Bionicare Knee Device on more than 100 patients.

“The device has reduced the use of pain medications and, in some cases, postponed the need for surgery in these patients,” Lewis said. “Active people want to stay healthy and perform at peak levels longer without pain. As a result, there is a growing interest in treatment options that have few side effects and the BioniCare device is a great example of that technology.”

The Knee Device was cleared for home use by the Food and Drug Administration in 2004 and requires a physician prescription. It transmits pulsed electrical stimulation to the knee and may help rejuvenate of cartilage. During therapy, a wrap is applied and worn for 8-10 hours, typically while the patient sleeps. Patient’s who accumulate more than 750 hours of cumulative wearing time demonstrate the best results.

“This product has proven itself to be a great alternative for people like Ashley, who are in the early stages of osteoarthritis and wish to remain active without being dependent on pain medications or invasive procedures,” Lewis said. “It’s really represents good news.”