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Non-invasive treatment for osteo arthritis

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TYLER (KYTX) - If you suffer through pain from arthritis, you're not alone.

Osteo arthritis is estimated to affect more than 20 million Americans.

But there could be a way to offset costly surgery.

The most common form of painful osteo arthritis appears in the knees.

But a newly improved device is shocking those in the medical industry, and could keep patients out of the operating room for years.

Every morning Mark Kerzee straps on a knee brace.

"Get up on the edge of the bed in the morning and dread getting up and taking 5 steps over to my clothes rack to get dressed. It hurt that bad," says Kerzee, who suffers from osteo arthritis.

His doctor. Gave him 2 options: a total knee replacement, or a non-invasive treatment called BioniCare.

Dr. Patrick Wupperman at Azalea Orthopedics says reduces pain significantly.

"Their thought is: the normal electrode magnetism in the knee - in a normal knee - is such this tries to mimic that," says Dr. Wupperman.

Low-level pulses are sent through electrodes to the joint, supporting better blood flow to cartilage.

"We just know it makes people not hurt and prevents them from having knee replacement," says Dr. Wupperman.

Dr. Wupperman says it can be used for patients who can't have surgery, or to prolong the need for it up to 4 years.

"At some point it may stop working and have to deal with the inevitable, but right now it's doing fine," says Kerzee.

Making for a big difference in pain without medication, and in price for Kerzee.

"I'm expecting to run a marathon. Maybe," says Kerzee.

The parent company of BionicCare began tests for people who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis in their hands.

Right now, the only system approved by the FDA is for the knee.

BioniCare costs around $1,500.

Every year more than 500,000 knee replacements are performed, with a price tag of about $15 billion.

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