By Dennis Douda, WCCO-TV

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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Doctors perform more than 500,000 knee joint replacements in the U.S. each year. Aging baby boomers are expected to double that number in the next five years.

What if a solution could be found to ease the pain without surgery for a fraction of the cost? One that works while you sleep?

Orthopedic surgeon Nolan Segal got Gregg Corwin walking again without making a single cut. Corwin suffered from arthritis and a severe loss of cartilage, and had trouble even walking to the end of his block without pain.

“When he first came to me, he had difficulty even getting in and out of a car,” said Segal.

Before turning to knee joint replacement, Segal suggested Corwin try a wraparound sleeve that generates an electrical current, wearing it while sleeping.

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The FDA allows the company Bionicare to say the joint stimulator reduces pain and increases mobility. They can’t claim it grows cartilage, but Segal says he’s seen that take place on the contact surfaces inside the joint.

“I would say two-thirds of the patients have responded really well to it,” said Segal. “I do have a couple of people where I’ve done sequential X-rays, and there is actually widening of the joint space, which is remarkable because nothing has ever done that before.”

For Corwin, who has been through shoulder and hip replacement in the past year, avoiding surgery saves more than just money.

“It’s the time away from work. It’s the rehab. It’s the physical therapy. It’s all the inconvenience. It’s a hospitalization,” he said.

The cost for the treatment ranges from $1,100 for the basic sleeve to a $2,500 unit with a knee brace to help support the joint. Either price is a bargain compared to the alternative, according to Segal.

“If you have a knee replacement, costs in this area range from $30,000 to $50,000,” he said. “So you’re talking a minimal expense with the potential of relief without the risks of surgery.”

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For more information on the treatment, check Bionicare’s website.