Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Pulsed electromagnetic field therapy (PEMF therapy)

  1. Jan 29, 2008 #1
    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 http://www.otobodycare.com/e-cell/downloads/OTO_ecell_brochure.pdf" [Broken]

    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.

    Last edited by a moderator: May 3, 2017
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 21, 2008 #2
    PEMF - fact or fiction?

    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 www.pubmed.gov - 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.
  4. Dec 30, 2008 #3
    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 pubmed.com 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
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 31, 2008
  5. Dec 30, 2008 #4
    You have a Master's of Art degree in Physics.
  6. Dec 30, 2008 #5

    Ivan Seeking

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    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?
  7. Dec 30, 2008 #6

    Ivan Seeking

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Objection noted.

    For now let's just focus on the PEMF.
  8. Dec 30, 2008 #7
    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.
  9. Dec 30, 2008 #8
    So, I dug up some literature.

    Some good:

    Rats love it:

    So do strippers:

    And computer programmers:

    And it does seem to relieve some types of chronic pain:

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

    Dogs also seemed unimpressed:
    So, the websites selling this stuff online may be incredibly shady, but the technology itself has merits.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 24, 2017
  10. Dec 30, 2008 #9

    Ivan Seeking

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Thanks, but please always provide links.
  11. Dec 30, 2008 #10
    You're not my dad.

    Nonetheless, done.
  12. Dec 31, 2008 #11

    Ivan Seeking

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    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.
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2008
  13. Dec 31, 2008 #12
    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.
  14. Jan 1, 2009 #13

    Ivan Seeking

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    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


    http://www.centralcoastpaininstitute.com/variousarticlesummariesoftheeffectivenessofpemt/ [Broken]

    http://www.centralcoastpaininstitute.com/variousarticlesummariesoftheeffectivenessofpemt/ [Broken]


    However, on a commercially sold MRS 2000 init [Cost: Starts at $2895.00] we find:

    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:

    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?

    So now we are into Chi, and the yin and yang of the organs.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 3, 2017
  15. Jan 1, 2009 #14
    There may be something in it.

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

    http://www.otobodycare.com/e-cell/do...l_brochure.pdf [Broken]

    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.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 3, 2017
  16. Jan 1, 2009 #15
    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.
  17. Mar 1, 2009 #16
    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.

  18. Sep 16, 2009 #17
    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.
  19. Sep 16, 2009 #18
    Ouch. Thanks for sharing i guess.
  20. Sep 16, 2009 #19
    I did some research on the Web and found a home unit which is not portable like the one I used and has to be plugged in to house power. Check out the prices for this device that is manufactured in Israel. It seems to be a good size company and they claim to have sold a lot of these devices to hospitals and physicians.

    With these prices it would not be affordable unless one had insurance coverage for it. I don't know if this type of thing is approved by any insurance plan in the U.S. Evidently they don't require an Rx because I requested and got the price list and order sheet.

    I have exed out the name of the company in case that would violate any forum rules.

    QTY Home Systems Price

    xxxxxxx Home System
    Complete with 14” x 14” therapy pad and 24” x 63” mattress

    Professional Systems Price

    xxxxxxx Universal Therapy unit
    Order at least one applicator with the unit


    xxxxxx Comprehensive Therapy unit
    Order at least one applicator with the unit
    Professional software and USB cable for PC / Laptop included

    Applicator: Therapy pad 20” x 28” $495.00
    Applicator: Full body mattress 26” x 71” $695.00
    Applicator: High Energy Coil - Type A 8” x 8” $450.00
    Applicator: Very high Energy Coil - Type B 8” x 8” $630.00
    Option: Switch box for 2 applicators $195.00
    Option: XP upgrade to future PC model factory installed $250.00

    Shipment & handling (choose ONE shipping option)
    DHL courier USA & Canada $140.00
    DHL courier Rest of World $190.00
  21. Oct 12, 2009 #20
  22. Oct 12, 2009 #21
    I wonder why PEMI therapy is not used more often. Especially in bone fractures in elderly patients. Is it because it is not well known or is it because insurance companies are refusing to pay for it?
  23. Oct 13, 2009 #22
    My understanding is that some physicians are not convinced of the scientific validity of PEMF therapy. My personal opinion is that this is related to the relative lack of scientific rigor in a lot of the early literature.

    With respect to insurance reimbursement, I think that most insurers will reimburse if a device is used according to FDA guidelines, but I am not an expert in insurance reimbursement. PEMF treatment is FDA-approved for the treatment of an established nonunion acquired secondary to trauma, excluding vertebrae and all flat bones where the width of the nonunion defect is less than one-half the width of the bone to be treated. A nonunion is considered to be established when the fracture site shows no visible progressive signs of healing.

    One device is indicated as an adjunct to cervical fusion surgery in patients at high risk for nonfusion.
  24. Oct 13, 2009 #23
    yeah, rat studies are hardly confidence-inspiring. there are a ton of weight-loss supplements that have entered the market after positive results in murines. but they almost all do either jack squat in humans, or require quantities that are cost-prohibitive to be effective.
  25. Oct 14, 2009 #24
    Are you suggesting that PEMF therapy is a scam like weight loss claims?
    Did you read my experience above with PEMF?

    After 10 months of no healing I have no doubt to the effectiveness of the unit which showed healing starting just a few weeks after using the unit. I sincerely doubt the leg bones would have ever healed if not for this therapy. While it may not work on everyone in some case it may be the only hope.
  26. Oct 14, 2009 #25
    no, i'm not saying it's a scam, and yes i read your anecdote. but until there are more actual studies(not anecdotes) on actual humans, it will be hard to convince the medical establishment.

    still, i do not begrudge you of the freedom to try alternative therapies if they're not known to be harmful. i get my own relief from some things that aren't mainstream. just realize, most things outside the mainstream don't help most people.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook