Frequently Asked Questions
Osteoarthritis of the knee
What causes osteoarthritis of the knee?
Osteoarthritis occurs when the cartilage of the knee begins to wear down, causing inflammation and pain. Muscles, tendons and ligaments surrounding the knee can also be affected and provide less structural support. For some patients, this is part of the normal aging process—the body repairs itself at a slower rate and activities that were common for someone in their 20s are not likely to be continued in the 60s and 70s. However, some people develop symptoms earlier than others and these interfere with normal activities, such as walking and climbing stairs. People with a family history of osteoarthritis, those over the age of 45, females, those who are overweight or obese and those who have had a prior surgery or injury to the knee all have an increased risk of developing osteoarthritis at an earlier age when it is more likely to interfere with daily functioning.
What are the treatment options for osteoarthritis?
Common options for treating osteoarthritis include NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen), pain medications, HA (hyaluronic acid) injections (which thicken the joint fluid to provide better cushion), bracing (which alters the pressure on the joint), a total knee replacement (where the worn surfaces are surgically replaced) and BioniCare. Each of these alternatives has varying degrees of effectiveness and each has unique side effects and risks.
BioniCare Knee System
How do I know if BioniCare is the right treatment for me?
BioniCare is prescribed for osteoarthritis of the knee and is a viable alternative to knee replacement surgery. A physician can help you determine whether BioniCare is the best treatment option for you. We can help you find a doctor who is familiar with BioniCare.
Can BioniCare be used on other parts of the body?
BioniCare is a clinically proven, non-invasive, non-pharmaceutical treatment currently available for osteoarthritis of the knee . We are working on other applications and as they are approved, we will announce availability.
Will my insurance cover the costs?
Insurance coverage varies. VQ OrthoCare reimbursement professionals will help determine your insurance coverage, submit claims and follow up for reimbursement. They will bill you if there is a copay or deductible amount. In the case of no insurance coverage, they will work with you to discuss payment options and discuss our Better Knee Guarantee with you. They will answer any questions you have about this process and your responsibilities.
How effective is the BioniCare device?
The treatment option that is best for you should be discussed with your physician. However, some patients experience a reduction in pain starting at 250 hours (one month of wear at 8 hours per day). One of the published BioniCare studies showed that the effect of the device after 2250 hours (approximately 11 months of usage) was equal to that of a total knee replacement, without incurring the risks and downtime of surgery. A recent, ongoing study on the combination of the BioniCare system with the OActive unloader brace proved that this combination was as effective as a total knee replacement at an average of only 536 hours and 3 months.
How does BioniCare work?
A healthy knee produces an electrical signal during weight bearing and other mechanical stresses. Due to the physical changes in the osteoarthritic knee, this internal electrical impulse is diminished. BioniCare supplements this weakened signal with a stronger one that is clinically proven to reduce pain and restore function. The BioniCare generator delivers this signal through electrodes that are applied to the knee and thigh. BioniCare is combined with a knee brace and/or a Night-Wrap, depending on the patient’s needs and the physician’s recommendations. To view the signal and read more about the BioniCare System, read our Patient Brochure.
How long will it take until I notice an improvement in my knee?
While some patients notice improvements in pain after only one month of use, Studies show that on average most patients will see significant improvement after 750 hours of use, and the greatest improvements are achieved after 2250 hours. Patients who wear the BioniCare with the OActive brace see significant improvements in one month and the greatest improvements in as little as 3 months.
Why is the device integrated into a brace?
The BioniCare® System does not provide immediate relief like some electrical stimulation devices. However, it is the only treatment option to improve the health of the joint and provide lasting results. The OActive® and Eagle® OA unloader braces provide immediate support and stability as well as reduced pressure and pain while walking or standing. Some patients may take a few weeks to feel this effect due to swelling and inflammation. This combination enables patients to have both short term relief as well as long-term improvement.
In recent ongoing clinical study:
Patient who wore BioniCare with a brace had 37% greater improvement in symptoms in 1/4 of the time.
What will I feel when wearing the BioniCare device?
How will I know it is working?
The device will display the number of volts on it so that you know when it is running. If it becomes detached or the signal is not being transmitted, it will display an “open” error and emit warning beeps. We recommend that you chart your progress online using the BioniCare Patient Portal. Often, small day-to-day changes in your condition may not be noticeable, but when you chart your progress on a monthly basis, you will see that your pain level will decrease and range of motion and functional activity will increase as a result of wearing the device. Your device will periodically ask you questions related to the changes you are seeing with the use of the device and record the data. The data can be uploaded to the Patient Portal with the bluetooth dongle that came with your device. On the Patient Portal, you can chart your progress, print a report for your physician and find resources regarding your BioniCare System and Osteoarthritis.
What is the recommended break-in schedule for a new brace or a new brace with BioniCare?
It’s important that you allow your body to adjust to a new brace (or new brace with BioniCare) by starting out slowly and gradually increasing your wear time. On day one, wear the brace for 30-60 minutes, and each day going forward, double the amount of time until you reach your optimal daily wear time. For example, on the first day wear it for one hour, on the second day for two hours, on the third day for four hours, and the fourth day for eight hours. This will allow your body to more easily adapt to the new corrective pressures and improved biomechanics that are provided by the brace. The BioniCare generator does not need a break-in schedule as long as there are no reactions to the electrodes.
How many hours a day should the BioniCare device be worn?
How long will my symptoms remain improved?
Results vary greatly as each patient is unique in terms of particular condition and level of activity. One study showed that total knee replacement candidates who used BioniCare for an average of 11 months, were able to avoid the surgery for at least 4 years.
What are the side effects if any?
There are no serious side effects associated with the BioniCare system. However, a small percentage of patients may develop a mild rash under the Electrodes or Wrap.