#272 Will a bone stimulator help sesamoiditis? - DOC

#272 Will a bone stimulator help sesamoiditis?

Today on the Doc On The Run Podcast, we’re talking about whether or not a bone stimulator will help sesamoiditis. 


I recently got a question sent in from a listener to the podcast who wanted to know whether or not a thing called a bone stimulator, that is oftentimes helpful when you have a fracture. Well, wanted to know whether or not a bone stimulator might be helpful for this condition called “sesamoiditis.” So “-itis” means inflammation. 

Technically, when you have sesamoiditis, it just means you have excessive inflammation within the sesamoid bones under the big toe joint. And the question is, can it be helpful to use a bone stimulator? 

Well, a bone stimulator is a thing that uses either ultrasound or electromagnetic radiation to stimulate negative potentials in the bone that can stimulate a healing response and potentially caused the fracture in the bone to heal faster.

The question then isn’t really whether or not the bone stimulator will help. It’s a question of whether or not the sesamoiditis is really just inflammation, or if it’s really a mild stress fracture in the bone. That’s really the question. Because if you actually go to Medline, and you actually search through all of the medical literature that’s been published, if you put in the search terms for sesamoiditis and bone stimulator and search for them together, nothing comes up. 

What that means is that nothing has really been published in terms of clinical research that has been set forth and reviewed in a peer reviewed journal like the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, or the Journal of the American Podiatric Medical Association or something like that, that there just is no published research, no published study that actually has looked at the value of a bone stimulator for sesamoiditis.

Now, that doesn’t mean it can’t help. You have to remember that with stress fractures, there’s this range of trouble. And it goes from what we call a stress response, which is where you get increased inflammation within the sesamoid bone that appears on an MRI as the very earliest stage of a healing response after the bone has been overloaded or overworked, and then it progresses eventually to a thing called a stress reaction, which is a pathologic condition where you actually have an injury to the bone. It’s too much stress on the bone. And it’s not just healing from a very temporary setback, but it’s really injured. And that’s like a pre-stress fracture or a very early stress fracture where you do have an injury to the bone. You just can’t see a visible crack in the bone. And if you do have a stress reaction or an early stress fracture, then a bone stimulator might be a helpful thing.

The problem is, is there’s no published research on it. So you could probably get a bone stimulator, and use a bone stimulator if you do have a stress fracture or a stress reaction to the sesamoid bones. But it’s unlikely that your insurance would pay for it. That doesn’t mean you can’t get it, and that doesn’t mean that many athletes wouldn’t get it and pay for and use it for that scenario, but there is no published research that actually discusses this in great detail.

So the real question then when you’re talking to your doctor and you think you might need a bone stimulator, is to try to pin them down. Is this really just a stress response or is it really more consistent with the clinical picture of a stress fracture that could actually benefit from a bone stimulator? 

That’s really the question. And if you can get an answer to that, then you’ll know whether or not your particular case might be useful to have a bone stimulator. Either way, you have to keep in mind that sesamoid injuries can progress to a stress fracture if you ignore them and keep running on them. So you have to treat it really seriously.

So if you think you have a stress fracture, one of the things that you might find really useful as a video I made for you. It’s on the website, under the Doc On The Run Podcast tab at DocOnTheRun.com. It’s the top 10 questions that will help you decide when you can run, if you have a metatarsal stress fracture. So check it out and watch it now.

There are several question you need to ask if you think you have a stress fracture and want to get back to running as quickly as possible. I’ll walk you through them.

Get instant access to the video here…

Top 10 questions to help decide when you can run if you have a stress fracture.

Watch the video now!