Pulsed Electromagnetic Field (PEMF) Therapy

Chronic musculoskeletal pain, osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia, and neuropathic pain all have one thing in common. They are all sources of pain. Pulsed electromagnetic field (PEMF) therapy is great at reducing pain. It reduces pain without harmful side effects. It is not habit-forming. Being pain-free can become a positive addiction, but that is not the type of addiction we had in mind.

How Does PEMF Work?

Every cell and molecule in your body has it's own unique resonant frequency. The human body is like a symphony orchestra comprising many musical instruments, with each instrument playing or resonating to a different note or frequency. Research has shown that when tissue is in a state of either disease or injury, it resonates at a frequency different from its optimal or usual resonant frequency. By reintroducing the proper frequency for that tissue, the natural resonance brings the tissue back into balance and harmony. PEMF works because every structure has its own unique resonant frequency, and every structure naturally wants to return to a state of balance and health.

PEMF Research

PEMF therapy has been used clinically to stimulate bone formation and assist in healing non-union fractures.1,2  The Federal Drug Administration (FDA) has approved several devices that transmit low level PEMFs for treatment of non-union fractures. Clinical studies have demonstrated that PEMF therapy may help prevent and treat osteoporosis.3,4,5,6,7 The FDA has also approved a PEMF device that has been successful in treatment of refractory depression by a technique called repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS). 

At the cellular level, low-level PEMFs have also been shown to positively affect enzymatic processes and stimulate growth factors involved in cellular repair and bone formation.8,9 All membranes within and surrounding every cell separate charges and create transmembrane electrical potentials. PEMFs interact and alter the transmembrane potential by influencing the migration of ions across the membrane. Low-level PEMFs have been shown to exert an anti-inflammatory effect through restoration of plasma membrane calcium ATPase activity.10 

Multiple published scientific studies have demonstrated that low-level PEMFs produce a statistically significant reduction in pain when treating acute whiplash injuries, chronic musculoskeletal pain, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, epicondylitis, and neuropathic pain.11,12,13,14,15,16,17,18 A 2003 study by NASA showed that very low level PEMFs up-regulate genes involved in normal cell growth.19 NASA has also studied the application of PEMF to reduce muscle atrophy and bone loss associated with space flight.20  

Sources

1. Bassett CA, Mitchell SN, Schink MM. Treatment of therapeutically resistant non-unions with bone grafts and pulsing electromagnetic fields.  J Bone Joint Surg Am. 1982; 64(8): 1214-20. PubMed PMID: 6752151

2. Garland DE, Moses B, Salyer W. Long-term follow-up of fracture nonunions treated with PEMFs. Contemp Orthop. 1991;22(3):295-302. PubMed PMID: 10147555

3. Rubin CT, Mcleod KJ, Lanyon LE. Prevention of osteoporosis by pulsed electromagnetic fields. J Bone Joint Surg Am. 1989;71(3):411-7. PubMed PMID: 2925715

4. Tabrah F, Hoffmeier M, Gilbert F, Batkin S, Bassett CA. Bone density changes in osteoporosis-prone women exposed to pulsed electromagnetic fields (PEMFs). J Bone Miner Res. 1990;5(5):437-42. PubMed PMID: 2195843

5. Huang L, Wang W, Xiao D, Yang L, Lei Z, He C. [Effect of pulsed electromagnetic fields of different treatment time on bone mineral density of femur in ovariectomized rats]. Zhongguo Xiu Fu Chong Jian Wai Ke Za Zhi. 2008;22(5):548-50. PubMed PMID: 18630432

6. Luo E, Jiao L, Shen G, Wu XM, Xu Q, Lu L. [Effects of the PEMFs of different intensity on BMD and biomechanical properties of rabbits' femur]. Sheng Wu Yi Xue Gong Cheng Xue Za Zhi. 2005;22(6):1168-70. PubMed PMID: 16422091

7. Jayanand, Behari J, Lochan R. Effects of low level pulsed radio frequency fields on induced osteoporosis in rat bone. Indian J Exp Biol. 2003;41(6):581-6. PubMed PMID: 15266903

8. Satake T. [Effect of pulsed electromagnetic fields (PEMF) on osteoblast-like cells. Alterations of intracellular Ca2+]. Kanagawa Shigaku. 1990;24(4):692-701. PubMed PMID: 2133739

9. Icaro cornaglia A, Casasco M, Riva F, et al. Stimulation of osteoblast growth by an electromagnetic field in a model of bone-like construct. Eur J Histochem. 2006;50(3):199-204. PubMed PMID: 16920643

10. Selvam R, Ganesan K, Narayana raju KV, Gangadharan AC, Manohar BM, Puvanakrishnan R. Low frequency and low intensity pulsed electromagnetic field exerts its antiinflammatory effect through restoration of plasma membrane calcium ATPase activity. Life Sci. 2007;80(26):2403-10. PubMed PMID: 17537462

11. Foley-nolan D, Moore K, Codd M, Barry C, O'connor P, Coughlan RJ. Low energy high frequency pulsed electromagnetic therapy for acute whiplash injuries. A double blind randomized controlled study. Scand J Rehabil Med. 1992;24(1):51-9. PubMed PMID: 1604262

12. Lee PB, Kim YC, Lim YJ, et al. Efficacy of pulsed electromagnetic therapy for chronic lower back pain: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. J Int Med Res. 2006;34(2):160-7. PubMed PMID: 16749411

13. Thomas AW, Graham K, Prato FS, et al. A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial using a low-frequency magnetic field in the treatment of musculoskeletal chronic pain. Pain Res Manag. 2007;12(4):249-58. PubMed PMID: 18080043

14. Sutbeyaz ST, Sezer N, Koseoglu BF. The effect of pulsed electromagnetic fields in the treatment of cervical osteoarthritis: a randomized, double-blind, sham-controlled trial. Rheumatol Int. 2006;26(4):320-4. PubMed PMID: 15986086

15. Trock DH, Bollet AJ, Markoll R. The effect of pulsed electromagnetic fields in the treatment of osteoarthritis of the knee and cervical spine. Report of randomized, double blind, placebo controlled trials. J Rheumatol. 1994;21(10):1903-11. PubMed PMID: 7837158

16. Shupak NM, Mckay JC, Nielson WR, Rollman GB, Prato FS, Thomas AW. Exposure to a specific pulsed low-frequency magnetic field: a double-blind placebo-controlled study of effects on pain ratings in rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia patients. Pain Res Manag. 2006;11(2):85-90. PubMed PMID: 16770449

17. Uzunca K, Birtane M, Taştekin N. Effectiveness of pulsed electromagnetic field therapy in lateral epicondylitis. Clin Rheumatol. 2007;26(1):69-74. PubMed PMID: 16633709

18. Weintraub MI, Cole SP. Pulsed magnetic field therapy in refractory neuropathic pain secondary to peripheral neuropathy: electrodiagnostic parameters--pilot study. Neurorehabil Neural Repair. 2004;18(1):42-6. PubMed PMID: 15035963

19. Goodwin, T. Physiological and Molecular Genetic Effects of Time-Varying Electromagnetic Felds on Human Neuronal Cells. Lyndon B Johnson Space Center. 2003 Sep. NASA/TP-2003-212054

20. Byerly D, Sognier M, Arndt D, Ngo P, Phan C, Byerly K, Weinstein R. Pulsed electromagnetic fields – a countermeasure for bone loss and muscle atrophy. Space Life Sciences. NASA.