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Pulsed electromagnetic field therapy (PEMF therapy)

by Delzac
Tags: electromagnetic, field, pemf, pulsed, therapy
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Jan29-08, 01:20 AM
P: 389
As the title suggest, does this PEMF therapy crackpottery? I have been browsing the FDA website, and from what i read, manufactures do seem to provide adequate evidence to show that PEMF does help bone growth such as fractures and such.

But do PEMF help will pain relieve, that i am not that clear. If possible i would like to refer you to this website

This company is talking about the wonders their E-cell does. Namely produce magnetic field to aid pain relieve, or does it create electric field?

In any event, the main question is whether the oto e-cell is nonsense.

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Mar21-08, 06:06 PM
P: 1
Two years ago I had never heard of PEMF therapy. Two years later and I've seen many examples of people being helped with it. One of the best sources for research is the gov's own - hundreds of studies from all over the world, with the vast majority concluding the PEMF therapy works. I've seen people with athletic injuries and serious illnesses get better from PEMF therapy. Even NASA did a four-year study and found them to be effective and safe. Turns out the use of PEMFs goes back to the 1860s in the US. And still today, the researchers don't know exactly how the benefits are created.
Dec30-08, 06:30 PM
P: 1
PEMF Therapy does work.

I have a both a bachelors and Masters degree in physics and currenly share the best energy medicine devices online. Along with Infrared Saunas, Whole Body Vibration and Water Ionizers, I believe PEMF therapy is the best and perhaps most researched alternative therapy device.

Go to and you will see about 250 research papers for pemf.

Firsthand I am working with a chiropractor (Dr. Ted Banko) who is seeing 150 people a week using a pemf device [link deleted] He has phenomenal results correcting all sorts of pain and many other disorders.

There is much more to say, but as a physicist I can tell you pemf works!

[Additional claims deleted pending supporting evidence]

Bryant Meyers
B.S. M.A. Physics

Dec30-08, 08:13 PM
P: 22
Pulsed electromagnetic field therapy (PEMF therapy)

You have a Master's of Art degree in Physics.
Ivan Seeking
Dec30-08, 09:51 PM
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Hello bryamey,
Welcome to PF.

As you can probably imagine, we have to be very careful about claims like this. Could we get you to post links to a few of the most pertinent papers published in applicable peer-reviewed journals.

My mother had electrodes implanted for pain relief in her back, and she used another device that helps to promote bone growth. This was done at/ provided by a major hospital in San Francisco. Could you provide some context for this? Is this similar technology to what you describe?
Ivan Seeking
Dec30-08, 10:09 PM
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Objection noted.

For now let's just focus on the PEMF.
Proton Soup
Dec30-08, 10:26 PM
P: 1,070
cell membranes are "trickle charged" by ion pumps such as those for K+ and Na+. it ain't got nothing to do with external magnetic field interactions. so kindly provide some physiological (not physics) arguments for the mechanism of action. i assume with a physics degree, you might also have some equations and numbers to offer.
Dec30-08, 11:29 PM
P: 22
So, I dug up some literature.

Some good:

Spine Fusion for Discogenic Low Back Pain: Outcomes in Patients Treated With or Without Pulsed Electromagnetic Field Stimulation

Richard A. Marks, M.D.
Richardson Orthopaedic Surgery
Richardson, Texas

Sixty-one randomly selected patients who underwent lumbar fusion surgeries
for discogenic low back pain between 1987 and 1994 were retrospectively
studied. All patients had failed to respond to preoperative conservative treat-
ments. Forty-two patients received adjunctive therapy with pulsed electromag-
netic field (PEMF) stimulation, and 19 patients received no electrical stimulation
of any kind. Average follow-up time was 15.6 months postoperatively. Fusion
succeeded in 97.6% of the PEMF group and in 52.6% of the unstimulated group
(P<.001). The observed agreement between clinical and radiographic outcome
was 75%. The use of PEMF stimulation enhances bony bridging in lumbar spinal
fusions. Successful fusion underlies a good clinical outcome in patients with
discogenic low back pain.
Ice and pulsed electromagnetic field to reduce pain and swelling after distal radius fractures

Gladys L. Y. Cheing; Jolly W. H. Wan; Sing Kai Lo

Conclusion: The addition of pulsed electromagnetic field to ice therapy produces better overall treatment outcomes than ice alone, or pulsed electromagnetic field alone in pain reduction and range of joint motion in ulnar deviation and flexion for a distal radius fracture after an immobilization period of 6 weeks.
Rats love it:

Pulsed electromagnetic fields as adjuvant therapy in bone healing and peri-implant bone formation: an experimental study in rats.

Grana DR, Marcos HJ, Kokubu GA

The objective of this study was to determine whether short exposure to pulsed electromagnetic fields (PEMF) accelerates bone repair and peri-implant bone formation in a rat tibial model at different times. Sixty Wistar rats were employed. Sterile custom fabricated commercially pure cylinder threaded titanium implants were placed in the right tibial crest, and an osteotomy was performed in the left tibial crest of each animal. Thirty rats were treated with PEMF (72 mT 50Hz), twice a day in sessions of 30 minutes each, and 30 rats of the control group were sham-treated. Rats were sacrificed at 5, 10 and 20 days postsurgery (n = 10 per group). Tibias were fixed in formaldehyde and decalcified, embedded in paraffin, and stained with hematoxylin-eosin (half samples of left tibias), or they were included in methylmethacrylate, grinded and polished (right tibias and half samples of left tibias). Bone healing was evaluated by image analysis in terms of ossification area, and perimeter and diameter of the lesion. Peri-implant ossification was assessed in terms of ossification percentage. At day 10 the area of ossification index was higher in the PEMF group than in the control group (p = 0.012). At day 20 the osteotomies of the PEMF group were almost completely remodeled. The ossification percentage was higher in the PEMF group (p = 0.018). In conclusion, short daily electromagnetic stimulation appears to be a promising treatment for acceleration of both bone-healing and peri-implant bone formation.
So do strippers:

Effects of pulsed electromagnetic fields on postoperative pain: a double-blind randomized pilot study in breast augmentation patients.

Hedén P, Pilla AA.

CONCLUSION: Pulsed electromagnetic field therapy, adjunctive to standard of care, can provide pain control with a noninvasive modality and reduce morbidity due to pain medication after breast augmentation surgery.
And computer programmers:

A randomized controlled trial of the effects of a combination of static and dynamic magnetic fields on carpal tunnel syndrome.

Weintraub MI, Cole SP.

CONCLUSIONS: PEMF exposure in refractory CTS provides statistically significant short- and longterm pain reduction and mild improvement in objective neuronal functions. Neuromodulation appears to influence nociceptive-C and large A-fiber functions, probably through ion/ligand binding.
And it does seem to relieve some types of chronic pain:

A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial using a low-frequency magnetic field in the treatment of musculoskeletal chronic pain.

Thomas AW, Graham K, Prato FS, McKay J, Forster PM, Moulin DE, Chari S.

Exposure to a specific pulsed electromagnetic field (PEMF) has been shown to produce analgesic (antinociceptive) effects in many organisms. In a randomized, double-blind, sham-controlled clinical trial, patients with either chronic generalized pain from fibromyalgia (FM) or chronic localized musculoskeletal or inflammatory pain were exposed to a PEMF (400 microT) through a portable device fitted to their head during twice-daily 40 min treatments over seven days. The effect of this PEMF on pain reduction was recorded using a visual analogue scale. A differential effect of PEMF over sham treatment was noticed in patients with FM, which approached statistical significance (P=0.06) despite low numbers (n=17); this effect was not evident in those without FM (P=0.93; n=15). PEMF may be a novel, safe and effective therapeutic tool for use in at least certain subsets of patients with chronic, nonmalignant pain. Clearly, however, a larger randomized, double-blind clinical trial with just FM patients is warranted.

Surprise, though, it's not a cure-all:

The effects of pulsed electromagnetic fields in the treatment of knee osteoarthritis: a randomized, placebo-controlled trial.

Ay S, Evcik D.

In this study, we planned to investigate the effects of pulse electromagnetic field (PEMF) on pain relief and functional capacity of patients with knee osteoarthritis (OA). Fifty-five patients with knee OA were included in a randomized, placebo-controlled study. At the end of the therapy, there was statistically significant improvement in pain scores in both groups (P < 0.05). However, no significant difference was observed within the groups (P > 0.05). We observed statistically significant improvement in some of the subgroups of Lequesne index. These are morning stiffness and activities of daily living activities compared to placebo group. However, we could not observe statistically significant differences in total of the scale between two groups (P > 0.05). Applying between-group analysis, we were unable to demonstrate a beneficial symptomatic effect of PEMF in the treatment of knee OA in all patients. Further studies using different types of magnetic devices, treatment protocols and patient populations are warranted to confirm the general efficacy of PEMF therapy in OA and other conditions.

Dogs also seemed unimpressed:
Use of a pulsed electromagnetic field for treatment of post-operative pain in dogs: a pilot study

Heidi L Shaˇord DVM, Peter W Hellyer DVM, MS, Dipl ACVA, Kenneth T Crump CVT, Ann E Wagner DVM, MS, Dipl ACVA, Khursheed R Mama DVM, MS, Dipl ACVA & James S Gaynor DVM, MS, Dipl ACVA Department of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, USA

Conclusions and clinical relevance: Although no clear benefit was seen in this study, the results suggest that PEMF may augment morphine analgesia following ovariohysterectomy in dogs, and that further study of the analgesic effects of PEMF is warranted.
So, the websites selling this stuff online may be incredibly shady, but the technology itself has merits.
Ivan Seeking
Dec30-08, 11:33 PM
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Thanks, but please always provide links.
Dec30-08, 11:50 PM
P: 22
Quote Quote by Ivan Seeking View Post
Thanks, but please always provide links.
You're not my dad.

Nonetheless, done.
Ivan Seeking
Dec31-08, 02:52 PM
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Is there any information to support the claims about the Russians, kirlian photography, and the indicated mechanism of action?

These sound like completely crackpot claims.
Proton Soup
Dec31-08, 03:19 PM
P: 1,070
i agree. there may be some therapeutic effect, and i think it's fair to say we simply don't know why. but to generate a bunch of pseudoscience BS nonsense to baffle laypersons (trickle charge? are you kidding?!) isn't acceptable.
Ivan Seeking
Jan1-09, 08:28 AM
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It is difficult to get good data since most of the medical reports require a $25 or so purchase, but what I was able to find suggests that the PEMF units used in medical testing produce magnetic field strengths of between 300uT, and 10mT. The frequencies indicated are between 30 Hz, and 27 MHz.

Note to casual readers: uT and mT are measures of magnetic field strength, where 1000uT [1000 microteslas] = 1mT [1 millitesla].
Also, 10 gauss = 1mT

The whole body of experimental animals, placed on the observing stage of a fluorescence microscope, was exposed to SMF (0.3, 1 and 10 mT) or 50-Hz EMF (0.3 and 1 mT) for 10 min using a specially devised electromagnet. For sham exposure, the electromagnet was not energized. During exposure and post-exposure to SMF of 10 mT, the peak blood velocity significantly increased as compared to sham exposure. After the withdrawal of SMF and 50-Hz EMF of 1 mT, significant similar effects on the blood velocity were present or enhanced. These findings suggest that field intensity of 1 mT might be considered as a threshold level for enhancing muscle microcirculation under pentobarbital-induced hypnosis.

Noninvasive pulsed signal therapy generates a unidirectional quasirectangular waveform with strength about 20 gauss [2 mT] and a frequency about 30 Hz into the soles of the feet for 9 consecutive 1-h treatments (excluding weekends). The most symptomatic foot of each patient was treated.

The standard treatment of acute whiplash injuries (soft collar and analgesia) is frequently unsuccessful. Pulsed electromagnetic therapy PEMT (as pulsed 27 MHz) has been shown to have pro-healing and anti-inflammatory effects.

METHOD: The present study investigated the effects of an acute 30 min magnetic field exposure (less than or equal to 400 microTpk; less than 3 kHz) on pain (McGill Pain Questionnaire

However, on a commercially sold MRS 2000 init [Cost: Starts at $2895.00] we find:
Most importantly to me, is it is THE CLOSEST to Nature. That is, the earths magnetic field is at 40 uT (microtesla) and the MRS uses intensities very close to this strength. It also has six individual coils where most other brands only have one.

AND, the MRS uses weak pulsing fields in the frequency range of .5 to 15 Hz. Again, the naturally occuring pulsed field on the earth is the Schumann resonance and the first two major harmonics are 7.83 and 14.2 HZ. The MRS uses these harmonics plus millions of frequencies in this range. Also consider the brain operates mainly from .5 (delta) to 15 Hz (high beta).

The MRS 2000 additionally contains a chinese organ clock so you run the appropriate program for the time of day.

One has to wonder what good it could do if the field strengths and frequencies approximate that of the earths magnetic field.

Nothing was found to support this statement:
And it helped clear up a serious dental infection.

This is all suggestive of what I found with the so called static magnetic therapy devices, such as magnets placed in the shoes for foot pain relief. There was some literature suggesting that magnetic fields can be effective for certain types of pain and to promote healing, but the fields required are orders of magnitude stronger than those of simple magnets. Also, IIRC, the referenced testing involved dynamic fields only.

What is the so called Chinese Organ Clock?
Chi is strongest in various organ systems at different times of day. Each organ system is paired; if you have trouble with one organ system, you should pay close attention to the characteristics of its counterpart. Each pair is located together in the chart below.

So now we are into Chi, and the yin and yang of the organs.
Jan1-09, 09:31 AM
P: 359
There may be something in it.

But this sound likes twaddle.......

SIM cards needed to generate very simple waveforms?? And different parts of the body respond to different frequencies and mark-space ratios??? Shades of reflexology there.
Proton Soup
Jan1-09, 06:53 PM
P: 1,070
The whole body of experimental animals, placed on the observing stage of a fluorescence microscope, was exposed to SMF (0.3, 1 and 10 mT) or 50-Hz EMF (0.3 and 1 mT) for 10 min using a specially devised electromagnet. For sham exposure, the electromagnet was not energized. During exposure and post-exposure to SMF of 10 mT, the peak blood velocity significantly increased as compared to sham exposure. After the withdrawal of SMF and 50-Hz EMF of 1 mT, significant similar effects on the blood velocity were present or enhanced. These findings suggest that field intensity of 1 mT might be considered as a threshold level for enhancing muscle microcirculation under pentobarbital-induced hypnosis.
this makes the most sense to me. you'd be surprised what a little exercise can do to alleviate back pain. there may also be some direct nerve stimulation effects going on.

this also explains to me why it wouldn't be effective for knee pain when applied directly to the knees. knee pain can actually be referred pain from muscles much higher up in the leg, not a dysfunctional joint.

it's be interesting to see what an actual neurologist would think about it.
Mar1-09, 09:05 PM
P: 1
I am working in the area of PEMF for four years now. There are studies that show the effects of pulsed magnetic fields on cells in vitro but there is a lot to learn about this, the field is still in its infancy.
Chemical reactions at the cellular level are triggered by electrical activity, through ion channels or gates through which ions pass through the cell membrane. For example in neurons the "resting" potential (between inside and outside) of the cell membrane is -70 mV. If this is raised above a certain level, say to -50 mV then a chemical reaction takes place which generates and electical signal which propogates through a chain of interconnected neurons.
By exposing cells to a pulsing magnetic field the changing flux results in a voltage which can effect the threshold at which the cell membrane (through ion channels) is activated.
If you pulse the magnetic field at frequencies that are resonant with the electro-chemical characteristic frequencies of the cell then it probably doesnt take a very high field to have an effect.
There is a lot to learn, but the tools now exist to explore this as a viable therapy for many disorders for which no drugs have been found to work. It may also compliment existing drug therapies, who knows.

Sep16-09, 01:54 AM
P: 6
For what it's worth I used PEFT about 8 years ago for a tibia/fibula fracture that hadn't healed in 10 months (I'm a paraplegic) in a custom removable splint. After using a PEFT unit rented and provided by the Miami VA SCI for about 3 months over 12 hrs a day the bones were joined completely in 2 months with new regeneration (fracture callus) noted on x-ray after 2 weeks.

I can't remember the mfg of the unit but it was made in Puerto Rico and came with a postage paid box to return it since it was a monthly rental type thing, factory pre-set specifically for the tibia. It had a NiCAD equipped transmitter about the size of 2 cig. packs and an oval padded flat coil that you could bend into the shape you wanted. It went about 3/4 of the way around the splint.

It was a Chinese doctor working at the VA who mentioned it and sure enough after the higher ups reviewed the literature they approved it. I believe I was the first person at that hospital that used it and now I see them on other patients when I go for a physical.

I thought it was amazing after seeing the x-ray with fracture callus 2 weeks after use since I had to put with this problem for 10 months. Taking a shower was an ordeal to make sure the leg was properly supported as my foot would actually fall over and knee would be straight.

So there may be companies selling devices to the general public that are quacks but this thing I used was from a large company with a sales force that called on hospitals and doctors all over the US with peer-reviewed documentation. It also could only be ordered by a physician. They didn't sell the units back then, only rentals, because I was told by the VA purchasing office they did try to buy it. I don't know about now.
Sep16-09, 05:39 AM
P: 100
Ouch. Thanks for sharing i guess.

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