Pulsed electromagnetic field (PEMF) therapy represents a treatment modality which has existed for many decades. Medical treatments using magnetic wave energy has been described and commonly used for hundreds of years in Asia and countries outside of the U.S.. The goal of such treatment is to introduce safe and natural electromagnetic fields that are complementary to normal bodily functions and result in a range of therapeutic effects.
Electromagnetic energy naturally exists in the human body. EKGs of the heart and EEGs of the brain, for examples, record the electromagnetic activity the body produces. Using intermittent (or pulsed) magnetic waves, PEMF therapy has been described as having potential therapeutic benefits, including reduction of inflammation, improvement of circulation, tissue oxygenation, and muscle function, as well as as reduction of pain and swelling. A myriad of studies describing potential benefits from PEMF therapy in the treatment of back and neck pain, knee pain, shoulder pain, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, neuropathic and soft tissue pain has been published, and research continues to be conducted at universities within the U.S. and abroad.
PEMF therapy has gained increasing attention of patients in this country over the past several years. Currently, PEMF devices in the United States are FDA approved for the treatment of conditions including bone healing, wound care, post-operative knee pain and swelling, migraine headaches with aura, and clinical depression. PEMF has not been FDA approved to treat other musculoskeletal conditions at this time.
There is a wealth of descriptive information and literature on PEMF therapy available to the interested reader on the internet. Below are a few of the informative links to websites and research. These resources address the basic science behind electromagnetic therapy, safety information, clinical trials, questions which remain to be answered, and the potential role of PEMF therapy in complementary medicine.
- 2013 Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation article on potential PEMF therapy benefits with shoulder pain
- 2009 Harvard Medical School study assessing PEMF in the medical management of osteoarthritis of the knee
- 2009 Albert Einstein Medical School study reviewing the role of PEMF in the treatment of pain and swelling associated with plastic surgery
- 2003 NASA study of the effect of electromagnetic fields on neuronal cells
- PEMF Therapy on the Dr. Oz Show
In the News
Over the past several years and following increasing media exposure, patients have inquired more about PEMF therapy and its potential benefits. Awareness has also been heightened with professional and elite athletes having used such devices to reduce muscle soreness, treat injuries, and improve performance.