Pulsed Electro Magnetic Field (PEMF) therapy has attracted much attention in recent years. Much of this is due to growing evidence of its effectiveness in relieving certain health conditions. Marketing campaigns run by companies that supply PEMF devices have also raised the profile of this therapy.
This has however also raised concerns as to whether it is all a scam. This is not an unusual allegation for anything that finds itself trending. More so in the medical field where alternative therapies are often cast in doubt. So what is the truth and what are the lies surrounding PEMF? What conditions does this therapy actually help with? And, what devices are the real deal?
This non-invasive therapy is often used to complement other conventional therapies to hasten the healing process and aid other body functions. Here we will look at how it works, what evidence supports its use, and what false claims to avoid.
How Does PEMF Therapy Work?
An electric current is passed through copper coils in the PEMF device. This generates the magnetic field that enters into body cells. This causes the cell membranes to open up, allowing for nutrients to more easily penetrate. It also encourages faster removal of cellular waste. This helps to restore balance and optimal function to cells.
PEMF devices will typically come with a therapy mat to lie on or an applicator to place against a body part. From here the magnetic fields enter into the body, tissues, and cells in need of treatment. Different physiologies and conditions will respond differently to the varying levels of intensity, waveforms, and frequencies.
Is PEMF Therapy Effective?
There have been many studies that demonstrate the effectiveness of PEMF therapy as a treatment for various conditions. Not only do they suggest the benefits of PEMF, they often advocate for larger studies in clinical trials.
PEMF therapy operates at a cellular level to achieve health benefits. You can easily find the various studies conducted that confirm its effectiveness in treating specific conditions like osteoarthritis (OA), fractures, and pain management.
Have There Been Studies On PEMF Efficacy?
There have been several studies into the use of PEMF therapy for osteoarthritis cases. Meta-analysis research covering twelve randomized controlled trials showed that PEMF therapy provided significant pain alleviation for knee and hand OA patients .
Another trial examined the effectiveness of wearable PEMF devices in pain management of knee OA patients. It found the magnetic fields safe and effective in treating knee OA symptoms . Early application of PEMF was also found to accelerate healing and reduce suffering time in fracture patients . These just a few of the many studies that have been carried out over the years repeatedly proving PEMF use is effective.
What False Claims About PEMF Therapy Should I Be Wary of?
1. Best in Market
Even with a common health condition, not everyone will be prescribed the same treatment. The same applies to PEMF therapies. There is no one-size-fits-all solution. Your physician will recommend the device that is best suited to your current needs and whatever you might need it for in the future.
2. FDA Approval
FDA approval is not necessary for a treatment to work. Most PEMF manufacturers do not pursue this. It can be sought, but often comes with strict limitations on how devices can be marketed. The research needed to achieve approval can also be prohibitively expensive. Being FDA registered just means the authority knows about the product being imported.
3. Applicable to Limited Conditions
PEMF therapy can be broadly applied as a tool for wellness. Its application, even at high intensities will not be harmful. So it does not matter the condition or other treatments already being undertaken, it can effectively complement.
The only risk lies in patients that use implanted electric devices like pacemakers and cochlear implants. The magnetic field may interfere with the performance of these devices. But beyond this, PEMF therapy is safe for use by everyone and anywhere.
How Should I Go About Choosing A PEMF Device?
Not all PEMF devices will work the same for everyone. In choosing what device is most suitable, you have to consider factors such as:
- Personal biology
- Condition suffered
- Intensity to be applied
- Frequency to be applied
There is much information to be found online concerning PEMF devices. But discerning what options are best for you may be a complex undertaking. This is why you should consult with a physician that is knowledgeable in PEMF therapy. They can help you identify applicable factors and narrow down to your best pick of PEMF devices.
- Wu Z, Ding X, Lei G, et al. Efficacy and safety of the pulsed electromagnetic field in osteoarthritis: a meta-analysis. BMJ Open 2018;8:doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2018-022879
- Bagnato, Gian Luca et al. “Pulsed electromagnetic fields in knee osteoarthritis: a double blind, placebo-controlled, randomized clinical trial.” Rheumatology (Oxford, England) 55,4 (2016): 755-62. doi:10.1093/rheumatology/kev426
- Shi, Hong-fei et al. “Early application of pulsed electromagnetic field in the treatment of postoperative delayed union of long-bone fractures: a prospective randomized controlled study.” BMC musculoskeletal disorders vol. 14 35. 19 Jan. 2013, doi:10.1186/1471-2474-14-35