As technological advancements continue to grow, I expect more new tech to help orthopedic patients manage their pain. Orthopedic problems are naturally excruciating. Bone-on-bone injuries and bone misalignment occur, and they leave patients feeling depleted, in extreme amounts of pain, and often immobile.
Here are five key technologies emerging for orthopedic pain patients:
1 - Personalized Care
Personalized care establishes therapies, AI diagnostics, and doctor recommendations based on a patient’s genetic condition and data. Personalized care truly only exists when physicians approach patient health from a holistic perspective and with the support of other technologies like genetic analysis and other unique information about an individual’s personal bio-health plan.
While not necessarily a specific product, personalized care will lead to fewer patients feeling like they did not get the care they deserved and more patients being treated with the right technologies from the start.
Instead, for example, of going through with a procedure and then experiencing pain, doctors will understand that their body is likely to reject an orthopedic implant and figure out an alternative option from the start. This approach to orthopedic pain patients is a proactive approach that removes the root of the problem.
2 - 3D Movement Therapy
Knee kinesiography is one therapy for orthopedic pain patients where treatment has not always been an option. It can often be difficult for patients with knee dysfunctions to relieve pain not visible to the naked eye.
Knee kinesiography is essentially an electrocardiogram, but where the patient’s knee is attached to a harness and then the knee is analyzed in 3D while it is in motion. The application of this technology can view joint rotations and other assessments that doctors will typically miss.
By providing such a detailed motion analysis, doctors can ascertain deviations from normal movement and identify what is causing the stress on the cartilage in question. This, in turn, can provide patients with a more personalized treatment, such as neuromuscular exercises, rather than a one-size-fits-all model since treatment is not really understood properly.
Studies on over 500 patients(opens in a new tab) show great promise for kinesiography. Of the patients that received the 3D kinesiography and received an individual care plan, biomechanical dysfunctions were identified and corrected. Nearly 88% reported following the treatment program; it is likely that patients are more willing to stick with treatment programs when they know that the therapy program is personalized.
3 - CyMedica's App-Connected Muscle Stimulation System
Standard therapies for knee pain, which impact nearly 14 million people in the US annually, are typically cortisone or hyaluronic acid treatments. Many people shy away from these treatments because of their invasiveness or the worry about injecting drugs.
CyMedica(opens in a new tab) can solve a lot of that. CyMedica is a muscle system for treating symptomatic knee osteoarthritis.
This app system, also known as CyMedica’s IntelliHab, relies on neuromuscular electrical stimulation therapy. The therapy sends electrical pulses directly to the motor nerves in the targeted muscle, allowing it to contract like it would during typical exercises. The contractions strengthen the muscle enabling your body to relieve the pressure on the knee and reduce pain.
The pulses are sent to the muscle through a knee brace and done so wirelessly with the Intellihab app. Therefore, patients can manage their own pain, and then clinicians can also monitor their usage and progress in real-time through a linked portal.
A clinical study of the IntelliHab system found that, after using the app-connected brace for regular neuromuscular electrical stimulation, participants reported significant drops in their knee pain levels and improvements in mobility.
4 - PRP and BMAC Biologics Therapy
Also referred to as biologics(opens in a new tab), PRP therapy uses platelet-enriched plasma to enhance cartilage, ligament, and tendon healing. Regularly used in the beauty industry for antiaging, PRP is the patient’s blood spun in a centrifuge to entice the platelets to emerge.
The PRP solution is then injected into the patient’s joint and the PRP encourages more substantial injury repair due to its excessive growth factors.
While PRP can offer relief for common joint pain like tennis elbow, researchers are suggesting a more stem cell-rich biologic known as bone marrow aspirate concentrate (BMAC); this too is retracted from the patient and mixed in a centrifuge. This is essentially tapping into the aspect of our body that is the best at tissue repair.
Studies with BMAC found that cartilage healed faster than typical cartilage structures.
5 - NanoTech
Biotechnology like Kailo is changing the way that athletes can live with orthopedic pain. Packed with nanotechnology that communicates with the electrical signals in the body, Kailo offers patients noninvasive pain management in the form of a healing patch. This patch can be worn for extensive periods of time.
The Kailo patch(opens in a new tab) works in three layers. The top layer is a non-ducting synthetic polyester, which is followed by a second layer of nanoparticles and then nanoparticles covered in a substrate (i.e., the adhesive). Nano capacitors are tasked with interacting with the body’s electrical system, providing more targeted and more effective pain management.
While not useful on its own and used without physical therapy, Kailo can offer that much-needed pain relief to osteo patients who need pain relief for moving around in daily life or competing as athletes.
Excited about emerging technologies in orthopedics? Connect with me to learn more about how physicians can support biotechnologies and be a part of this change.