Pulsed Electromagnetic Field Therapy
Pulsed electromagnetic field therapy (PEMFT), also called pulsed magnetic therapy, pulse magneto therapy, or PEMF, is a reparative technique most commonly used in the field of orthopedics for the treatment of non-union fractures, failed fusions, congenital and depression. In the case of PEMF uses electrical energy to direct a series of magnetic pulses through injured tissue whereby each magnetic pulse induces a tiny electrical signal that stimulates cellular repair. Many studies have also demonstrated the effectiveness of PEMF in healing soft-tissue wounds; suppressing inflammatory responses at the cell membrane level to alleviate pain, and increasing range of motion The value of pulsed electromagnetic field therapy has been shown to cover a wide range of conditions, with well documented trials carried out by hospitals, rheumatologists, physiotherapists and neurologists. There are several electrical stimulation therapy devices, approved by the FDA, that are widely available to patients for use. These devices provide an additive solution that aid in bone growth repair and depression.
The use of magnetic field therapy in clinical applications dates back over 500 years. In the 15th century, Swiss physician and alchemist used lodestones, or naturally magnetized pieces of the mineral magnetite, to treat conditions such as epilepsy, diarrhea, and hemorrhage. He believed that the ability of magnets to attract iron could be replicated by attracting disease away from the body. In the late 18th century, the Austrian physician, who originated the idea of “animal magnetism”, described the healing properties of passing magnets over the open veins of patients. In the mid-19th century, magnetic ointments produced in New York were introduced as remedies for a whole spectrum of illnesses such as headaches, inflammation of the bowels, burns, fever sores, rheumatism, gout, and toothache.
Nikola Tesla is often considered by historians to be the father of modern electrotherapy because of his research into electromagnetism. His methods and patents in the early 1900s for the Tesla coil that were used for power distribution transformers were also used for electromagnetic medical devices. These devices were often large round solenoid coils of wire that would surround the patient while they would stand or lay on a bed while and the coils of wire were energized directly from the 50 or 60 Hz sine wave electrical system. The patient would usually experience an immediate relief in pain. Tesla’s methods for electrotherapy were originally embraced by electricians who wanted to commercialize electricity however electro-therapeutic devices eventually fell out of favor with doctors when chose to only educate medical students in the use of pharmaceuticals and surgery. In addition, a concerted effort by the pharmaceutical industry caused electromagnetic therapy to be branded as “quackery” and electrical medical devices were only to be considered for diagnostic purposes such as X-ray.
In the countries of the former Soviet Union, pulsed electromagnetic field therapy was continually embraced, developed and still is widely deployed throughout. A great deal of advanced research in magnetic therapy was carried out for the soviet space program and subsequently their discoveries were adopted within their socialist healthcare system. Their scientists learned that when magnetic fields are pulsed, they were found to be in some cases more effective in comparison to the 50 Hz sine wave used for the power distribution system. Pulsed Electromagnetic Fields (PEMF) were then varied in time using a frequency generator to obtain extremely low frequencies (ELF) that are commonly now used. With the fall of the Soviet Union, commercial enterprise was now possible with the west, allowing government controlled medical device manufacturers the authority to license their PEMF technology to neighboring countries such as Switzerland, Liechtenstein and Austria who eventually miniaturized and commercialized their products for hospital and home consumer use.
Although electromagnetic therapy became widely adopted in Western Europe, its use was restricted to animals in North America. Veterinarians became the first health professionals to use PEMF therapy, usually to heal broken legs in race horses. Professional sports doctors then decided to experiment with veterinarian devices off label on professional athletes which ultimately led to legally licensed devices for human use in the United States – but under strict stipulations that it was only to be used for non-union bone fractures under a medical prescription from a licensed doctor.
In 1979 the FDA approved non-invasive devices using pulsed electromagnetic fields designed to stimulate bone growth. In 2004, pulsed electromagnetic field system was approved by FDA as an adjunct to cervical fusion surgery in patients at high risk for non-fusion The use of PEMF stimulation has been found to be safe It has also been proven safe and effective in treatment of delayed union in long bone fractures and patients at a risk of non-union following spinal fusion surgeries
Today, there is a wide variety of professional and consumer PEMF devices that are sold on the internet as wellness devices. The companies that sell and manufacture them make no claims as to their effectiveness mainly to bypass medical device regulations and approvals. They often consist of full body mats and pillows that contain coils of wire that are energized by controller units that will “pulse” magnetic fields through the body – in much the same way the early Tesla coils did over 100 years ago.
Delayed – and non-union fractures
In 1974 it was demonstrated that a pulsed magnetic field applied across the site of a bone fracture can accelerate the healing process (BASSETT et al., 1974). The mechanism is not clear; however, the use of PEMF therapy as an adjuvant therapy for delayed- and non-union fractures was supported by empirical evidence collected through clinical studies. While PEMF therapy may offer some benefit in the treatment of fractures, the evidence is inconclusive and is insufficient to inform current clinical practice. Although electricity’s potential to aid bone healing was reported as early as 1841, it was not until the mid-1950s that scientists seriously studied the subject. Fukada’s and Yasuda’s discovery of the electric potential of bone provides evidence of electricity’s effect in promoting osteogenesis (bone growth), particularly in long bone non-unions. During the 1970s, Bassett and his team introduced a new approach for the treatment of delayed fractures, a technique that employed a very specific biphasic low frequency to be applied for non-union/delayed fractures. The use of electrical stimulation in the lumbosacral region was first attempted by Alan Dwyer of Australia. In 1974, he reported successful initiation of graft incorporation in 11 of 12 fusion patients. Since that time, electrical stimulation has been shown to significantly increase the probability of bony arthrodesis in spinal fusions.
PEMF therapy has been suggested to enhance healing of fractures that occur in patients with diseases such as and those taking medications such as steroids and The exact mechanism for fracture healing is unclear; however, it is thought that PEMF therapy causes biochemical changes at the cellular level to accelerate bone formation.
Post-operative pain and edema
There are few clinical trials that have demonstrated PEMF therapy as an effective treatment for tissue trauma, particularly in the early stages of inflammation. Electrical stimulation has been shown to significantly increase the probability of bony arthrodesis in spinal fusions. The use of low-energy, time-varying magnetic fields (commonly referred to as pulsed electromagnetic fields or PEMF) has been successful when used adjunctively to fresh fusions and in the case of treating a failed fusion, PEMF bone growth stimulation is a successful method which avoids a revision surgery.
Based on a 2007 clinical trial, Thomas et al. conclude,PEMF may be a novel, safe and effective therapeutic tool for use in at least certain subsets of patients with chronic, nonmalignant pain.
In 2009, NASA was awarded a US patent – US 7,601,114 B2 – that utilized pulsed electromagnetic fields to enhance tissue repair in mammals. This patent was the result of research carried out by NASA to find methods to reverse the bone loss that is experienced by astronauts when they were in a gravity free environment and away from the earth’s magnetic field. As an adjunct to the NASA tissue repair patent, pulsed magnetic fields were also used to stimulate the growth of stem cells.
In 2002, Health Canada certified the use of PEMF to treat severe depression and currently several private for use if the patient failed to respond to antidepressants. This treatment, known as trans cranial pulsed electromagnetic therapy uses a strong electromagnetic field that is pulsed into the patients head. The treatment usually consists of two 15-minute treatments each day for two weeks.
The use for PEMF to remedy a wide range of various diseases and mental illness is not commonly known by general medical doctors because it is still not currently part of the standard curriculum offered by medical universities in North America. The general public learns about this form of therapy via the internet when looking for alternatives to pharmaceuticals, surgery and radiation. In Nov. 2011, the use of consumer PEMF mats were brought to the attention of millions of North American TV viewers who watched the Dr.OZ – show that featured several PEMF devices. This episode is considered by industry insiders to be the watershed moment for the re-introduction of electromagnetic field therapy into North America.
Pulsed Electromagnetic Therapy FAQ’s:
Q. What is Pulsed Electro Magnetic Frequency Therapy (PEMF)?
A. PEMF is a therapeutic technology/device which is a fast and easy to use system for pain management and the recovery from sports injuries, lower back pain, muscle aches and pains, headaches, nervous tension and stress, improved immune system high blood pressure and degenerative conditions related to aging. (See the health benefits sections in the Q&A farther down the page for a more comprehensive list of general benefits.)
Q. What does PEMF therapy do?
A. The PEMF therapeutic device delivers a series of pulsating magnetic frequencies
into the client, which creates a penetrating energy that will dynamically interact
with cellular metabolism in order to produce a wide range of healing benefits. Those
healing benefits to the body are increased ATP production, normalization of cellular
membrane potentials, increased oxygenation of tissues and improved removal of
toxins from the cells.
Q. What is a PEMF session like?
A. A PEMF session will essentially feel relaxing. All you do is lie on a massage table
or bed which has a PEMF system on it. No action or physical activity is required.
Most people (and animals) simply go to a restful, meditative state or fall
asleep. Afterwards they arise from the therapeutic experience feeling rested,
peaceful and energized…minus some aches and pains.
Q. What should I experience during a PEMF session?
A. Since everyone is unique and has different physical problems or conditions, each will experience something different. There are numerous types of therapeutic and intensity settings on the device, allowing the individual to increase or decrease the effects. Thus a person can experience many different sensations. Frequently, people will state that they feel a tingling in an area of an old injury, while others say they feel a sense of wellness and relaxation. Check it out for yourself and see what you experience.
Q. Who can use PEMF therapy?
A. Everyone can use PEMF therapy from the very young to the elderly, from sedentary individuals to those that exercise daily. Essentially, anyone at any age group, any level of wellness or fitness including both humans and animals (of all species) , can use this technology. All can and will benefit from PEMF treatments while experiencing no negative side effects.
Q. How often can I use PEMF therapy?
A. You can use PEMF therapy as often as you choose. Whether you use it once a day or once a week. PEMF treatment is a safe, easy to use and effective treatment with no negative side effects. Using PEMF just 20-60 minutes per day offers long lasting, significant relief not only throughout the day but throughout the weeks and months, as it mobilizes the body’s healing resources.
Q. Are there any contraindications to using PEMF therapy?
A. Yes, there are contraindications for PEMF therapy. Specifically, there are 3 Contraindications for using this technology, individuals with
Q. What are the general health benefits of PEMF therapy?
A. The following is a list of the general health benefits from using PEMF therapy:
*Improved Regenerations speeds recovery from physical exertion, strenuous Activities and workouts, etc.;
*Balances the body’s acupuncture meridians in just a few minutes;
*Strengthens the immune system – gentle magnetic intensity does not over-stimulat the body;
*Improved wound healing – post-operative wound healing, better scar healing, from Injuries, etc;
*Positive effects on pain reduction resulting from various causes – arthritis, back pain, bursitis, muscle stress, etc;
*Normalizes action of the cellular electrical voltage potentials for healthier metabolism.
The following is a long list of health benefits from using PEMF therapy organized in specific body systems:
A. Strengthens the cardiovascular system.
B. Improve blood circulation and micro-circulation – reduces blood platelet adhesion (stickiness).
C. Positive influence on secondary disorders, such as migraine, tinnitus.
D. Prevents Thrombosis (blood clots) – patients using blood thinners must consult with physician before using PEMF therapy.
E. Regulates high and low blood pressure – stimulates natural release of Nitric Oxide to relax and expand blood vessels.
F. Improves blood vessels: improves the cholesterol level, increases the oxygen partial pressure.
A. Increases oxygen uptake and reduces respiratory problems and asthma
A. Enhances the healing of muscle injuries from strains, sprains, tendonitis, bursitis;
B. Osteoporosis – measurable increases in bone density (20 to 30 percent) after only six months of daily use;
C. Arthritis – reduces pain and inflammation, improves circulation and oxygenation.
MUSCLES & TISSUE HEALING:
A. Enhances the healing of muscle injuries from strains, sprains, tendonitis, bursitis;
B. Positive effects on Fibromyalgia – not a cure but relieves symptoms with continued use;
C. Speeds post-operative healing of tissues, scars, etc.
METABOLISM AND HORMONE SYSTEM:
A. Improves metabolism functions;
B. Stimulates ATP production to provide more energy for the cells;
C. Moves waste products and toxins out of the cells;
D. Provides positive effects in: Elderly diabetic, Rheumatic disorders, Allergies, Menopausal complaints.
A. Reduces stress;
B. Positive effects in: Nervousness, Burnout syndrome, Sleeping disorders.
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