Scientific research research on PEMF efficacy
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Shoulder Pain
Pulsed electromagnetic field therapy of persistent rotator cuff tendinitis. A double-blind controlled assessment.
Lancet. 1984 Mar 31;1(8379):695-8.
Binder AParr GHazleman BFitton-Jackson S.

The value of pulsed electromagnetic fields (PEMF) for the treatment of persistent rotator cuff tendinitis was tested in a double-blind controlled study in 29 patients whose symptoms were refractory to steroid injection and other conventional conservative measures. The treated group (15 patients) had a significant benefit compared with the control group (14 patients) during the first 4 weeks of the study, when the control group received a placebo. In the second 4 weeks, when all patients were on active coils, no significant differences were noted between the groups. This lack of difference persisted over the third phase, when neither group received any treatment for 8 weeks. At the end of the study 19 (65%) of the 29 patients were symptomless and 5 others much improved. PEMF therapy may thus be useful in the treatment of severe and persistent rotator cuff and possibly other chronic tendon lesions.
[PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

Role of pulsed electromagnetic fields (PEMF) on tenocytes and myoblasts-potential application for treating rotator cuff tears.

J Orthop Res. 2017 May;35(5):956-964. doi: 10.1002/jor.23278. Epub 2017 Apr 7.

Liu M1,2, Lee C1,2, Laron D2, Zhang N3, Waldorff EI3, Ryaby JT3, Feeley B1,2, Liu X1,2.


The post-surgery integrity of the tendons and muscle quality are the two major factors in success of rotator cuff (RC) repair. Though surgical techniques for rotator cuff repair have significantly improved in the past two decades, there are no effective treatments to improve tendon-to-bone healing and muscle quality after repair at this point in time. Pulsed electromagnetic fields (PEMF) have previously been used for promoting fracture healing. Previous studies have shown that PEMF has a positive role in promoting osteoblast precursors proliferation and differentiation. However, PEMFs effect on tenocytes and muscle cells has not been determined fully yet. The purpose of this study is to define the role of a commercially available PEMF on tenocytes and myoblasts growth and differentiation in vitro. Human rotator cuff tenocytes and C2C12 murine myoblasts were cultured and treated with PEMF for 2 weeks under regular and inflammatory conditions. Our results showed that 2 weeks treatment of PEMF enhanced gene expressions of growth factors in human rotator cuff tenocytes under inflammatory conditions. PEMF significantly enhanced C2C12 myotube formation under normal and inflammatory conditions. Results from this study suggest that PEMF has a positive role in promoting tenocyte gene expression and myoblast differentiation. Therefore, PEMF may potentially serve as a non-operative treatment to improve clinical incomes rotator cuff tendon repairs. Results © 2017 Orthopaedic Research Society. Published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Orthop Res 35:956-964, 2017.

Pulsed electromagnetic field and exercises in patients with shoulder impingement syndrome: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial.

Galace de Freitas D1, Marcondes FB1, Monteiro RL1, Rosa SG1, Maria de Moraes Barros Fucs P2, Fukuda TY3. 

Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2014 Feb;95(2):345-52. doi: 10.1016/j.apmr.2013.09.022. Epub 2013 Oct 15.



To evaluate the effects of pulsed electromagnetic field (PEMF) and exercises in reducing pain and improving function and muscle strength in patients with shoulder impingement syndrome (SIS).


Double-blind, randomized controlled trial with a 3-month posttreatment follow-up.


Outpatient rehabilitation of a public hospital.


Patients (N=56) between 40 and 60 years of age, with a diagnosis of SIS, were randomly assigned to receive active PEMF (n=26; mean age, 50.1y) or placebo PEMF (n=30; mean age, 50.8y).


After 3 weeks of active or placebo PEMF, both groups performed the same program of exercises that focused on shoulder strengthening.


A visual analog scale, the University of California/Los Angeles shoulder rating scale, the Constant-Murley shoulder score, and handheld dynamometry for muscle strength were used as outcome measures at baseline (pretreatment), at 3 weeks (after active or placebo PEMF), at 9 weeks (postexercise), and at 3 months posttreatment.


Patients in the active PEMF group had a higher level of function and less pain at all follow-up time frames compared with baseline (P<.05). However, the placebo PEMF group had increased function and reduced pain only at the 9-week and 3-month follow-ups (P<.05)-that is, after performing the associated exercises. For the shoulder dynamometry, the active PEMF group had increased strength for lateral rotation at 9 weeks (P<.05), and increased strength for medial rotation at 9 weeks and 3 months (both P<.05) when compared with baseline. There was no significant difference for shoulder strength in the placebo PEMF group (P>.05), as well as no significant differences (P>.05) for all outcome measures.


The combination of PEMF and shoulder exercises is effective in improving function and muscle strength and decreasing pain in patients with SIS. However, these results should be carefully interpreted because of the lack of differences between groups.

Cardiovascular health

Am J Transl Res. 2014 May 15;6(3):281-90. eCollection 2014.

Pulsed electromagnetic field improves cardiac function in response to myocardial infarction.

Hao CN1, Huang JJ2, Shi YQ1, Cheng XW3, Li HY4, Zhou L4, Guo XG5, Li RL2, Lu W6, Zhu YZ7, Duan JL2.


Extracorporeal pulsed electromagnetic field (PEMF) has been shown the ability to improve regeneration in various ischemic episodes. Here, we examined whether PEMF therapy facilitate cardiac recovery in rat myocardial infarction (MI), and the cellular/molecular mechanisms underlying PEMF-related therapy was further investigated. The MI rats were exposed to active PEMF for 4 cycles per day (8 minutes/cycle, 30 ± 3 Hz, 5 mT) after MI induction. The data demonstrated that PEMF treatment significantly inhibited cardiac apoptosis and improved cardiac systolic function. Moreover, PEMF treatment increased capillary density, the levels of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and hypoxic inducible factor-1α in infarct border zone. Furthermore, the number and function of circulating endothelial progenitor cells were advanced in PEMF treating rats. In vitro, PEMF induced the degree of human umbilical venous endothelial cells tubulization and increased soluble pro-angiogenic factor secretion (VEGF and nitric oxide). In conclusion, PEMF therapy preserves cardiac systolic function, inhibits apoptosis and trigger postnatal neovascularization in ischemic myocardium.

    Rhumatoid Arthritis

Life Sci. 2007 Jun 6;80(26):2403-10. Epub 2007 May 1.

Low frequency and low intensity pulsed electromagnetic field exerts its antiinflammatory effect through restoration of plasma membrane calcium ATPase activity.

Selvam R1, Ganesan KNarayana Raju KVGangadharan ACManohar BMPuvanakrishnan R.

Author information


Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic inflammatory disorder affecting 1% of the population worldwide. Pulsed electromagnetic field (PEMF) has a number of well-documented physiological effects on cells and tissues including antiinflammatory effect. This study aims to explore the antiinflammatory effect of PEMF and its possible mechanism of action in amelioration of adjuvant induced arthritis (AIA). Arthritis was induced by a single intradermal injection of heat killed Mycobacterium tuberculosis at a concentration of 500 microg in 0.1 ml of paraffin oil into the right hind paw of rats. The arthritic animals showed a biphasic response regarding changes in the paw edema volume. During the chronic phase of the disease, arthritic animals showed an elevated level of lipid peroxides and depletion of antioxidant enzymes with significant radiological and histological changes. Besides, plasma membrane Ca(2+) ATPase (PMCA) activity was inhibited while intracellular Ca(2+) level as well as prostaglandin E(2) levels was noticed to be elevated in blood lymphocytes of arthritic rats. Exposure of arthritic rats to PEMF at 5 Hzx4 microT x 90 min, produced significant antiexudative effect resulting in the restoration of the altered parameters. The antiinflammatory effect could be partially mediated through the stabilizing action of PEMF on membranes as reflected by the restoration of PMCA and intracellular Ca(2+) levels in blood lymphocytes subsequently inhibiting PGE(2) biosynthesis. The results of this study indicated that PEMF could be developed as a potential therapy for RA in human beings.


Cartilage. 2014 Apr;5(2):78-85. doi: 10.1177/1947603513515904.

Symptomatic Early Osteoarthritis of the Knee Treated With Pulsed Electromagnetic Fields: Two-Year Follow-up.

Gobbi A1, Lad D1, Petrera M1, Karnatzikos G1.



In vitro and in vivo studies have proven a pro-anabolic and anti-catabolic activity within cartilage with the use of pulsed electromagnetic fields (PEMFs). This has piqued interest of sports physicians for its use in the treatment of early osteoarthritis (OA). The aim was to determine if the use of PEMFs in patients with early OA of the knee would lead to an improved clinical outcome.


Prospective case series.


Twenty-two patients aged between 30 and 60 years who underwent treatment with PEMFs (4-hour treatment per day, duration 45 days) were included. All patients presented with symptomatic early OA with grade 0-2 changes (Kellgren-Lawrence classification) at the pretreatment evaluation. Patients were evaluated before treatment, at 1- and 2-year follow-up using visual analogue scale for pain, International Knee Documentation Committee objective, Tegner, and Knee Injury and Osteoarthritis Outcome Scores.


A significant improvement in all scores was observed at 1-year follow-up (P = 0.008). At 2-year follow-up, results deteriorated but were still superior to pretreatment levels (P = 0.02). No adverse reactions or side effects were seen.


This study showed that the use of PEMFs in patients with symptomatic early OA of the knee led to significant improvement in symptoms, knee function, and activity at 1-year follow-up. There was a significant decline in all the scores at 2-year follow-up.

Pulsed electromagnetic fields in knee osteoarthritis: a double blind, placebo-controlled, randomized clinical trial
Gian Luca Bagnato1 , Giovanni Miceli1 , Natale Marino1 , Davide Sciortino1 and Gian Filippo Bagnato1
Objectives. This trial aimed to test the effectiveness of a wearable pulsed electromagnetic fields (PEMF) device in the management of pain in knee OA patients.
Methods. In this randomized [with equal randomization (1:1)], double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial, patients with radiographic evidence of knee OA and persistent pain higher than 40 mm on the visual analog scale (VAS) were recruited. The trial consisted of 12 h daily treatment for 1 month in 60 knee OA patients. The primary outcome measure was the reduction in pain intensity, assessed through VAS and WOMAC scores. Secondary outcomes included quality of life assessment through the 36-item Medical Outcomes Study Short-Form version 2 (SF-36 v2), pressure pain threshold (PPT) and changes in intake of NSAIDs/analgesics.
Results. Sixty-six patients were included, and 60 completed the study. After 1 month, PEMF induced a significant reduction in VAS pain and WOMAC scores compared with placebo. Additionally, pain tolerance, as expressed by PPT changes, and physical health improved in PEMF-treated patients. A mean treatment effect of 0.73 (95% CI 1.24 to 0.19) was seen in VAS score, while the effect size was 0.34 (95% CI 0.85 to 0.17) for WOMAC score. Twenty-six per cent of patients in the PEMF group stopped NSAID/analgesic therapy. No adverse events were detected.
Conclusion. These results suggest that PEMF therapy is effective for pain management in knee OA patients and also affects pain threshold and physical functioning. Future larger studies, including head-to-head studies comparing PEMF therapy with standard pharmacological approaches in OA, are warranted
Modification of osteoarthritis by pulsed electromagnetic field—a morphological study
D. McK. Ciombor Ph.D.†, R. K. Aaron M.D.*, S. Wang M.D.† and B. Simon Ph.D.‡ †Department of Orthopaedics, Brown Medical School, Providence, RI 02906, USA ‡EBI, Parsippany, NJ 07054, USA
Objective: Hartley guinea pigs spontaneously develop arthritis that bears morphological, biochemical, and immunohistochemical similarities to human osteoarthritis. It is characterized by the appearance of superficial fibrillation by 12 months of age and severe cartilage lesions and eburnation by 18 months of age. This study examines the effect of treatment with a pulsed electromagnetic field (PEMF) upon the morphological progression of osteoarthritis in this animal model.
Design: Hartley guinea pigs were exposed to a specific PEMF for 1 h/day for 6 months, beginning at 12 months of age. Control animals were treated identically, but without PEMF exposure. Tibial articular cartilage was examined with histological/histochemical grading of the severity of arthritis, by immunohistochemistry for cartilage neoepitopes, 3B3(−) and BC-13, reflecting enzymatic cleavage of aggrecan, and by immunoreactivity to collagenase (MMP-13) and stromelysin (MMP-3). Immunoreactivity to TGFβ, interleukin (IL)-1β, and IL receptor antagonist protein (IRAP) antibodies was examined to suggest possible mechanisms of PEMF activity.
Results: PEMF treatment preserves the morphology of articular cartilage and retards the development of osteoarthritic lesions. This observation is supported by a reduction in the cartilage neoepitopes, 3B3(−) and BC-13, and suppression of the matrix-degrading enzymes, collagenase and stromelysin. Cells immunopositive to IL-1 are decreased in number, while IRAP-positive cells are increased in response to treatment. PEMF treatment markedly increases the number of cells immunopositive to TGFβ.
Conclusions: Treatment with PEMF appears to be disease-modifying in this model of osteoarthritis. Since TGFβ is believed to upregulate gene expression for aggrecan, downregulate matrix metalloprotease and IL-1 activity, and upregulate inhibitors of matrix metalloprotease, the stimulation of TGFβ may be a mechanism through which PEMF favorably affects cartilage homeostasis.
© 2003 Published by Elsevier Science Ltd on behalf of OsteoArthritis Research Society International. Key words: Osteoarthritis, Cartilage, Morphology, Pulsed electromagnetic fields.

Bioelectromagnetics. 2015 Dec;36(8):576-85. doi: 10.1002/bem.21942. Epub 2015 Nov 12.

Effects of PEMF on patients with osteoarthritis: Results of a prospective, placebo-controlled, double-blind study.

Wuschech H1, von Hehn U2, Mikus E3, Funk RH3.


This study aimed to evaluate effects of pulsed electromagnetic fields (PEMF) in a double blind study on patients with knee joint osteoarthritis. The MAGCELL ARTHRO electrode-less therapy delivered a sinusoidal magnetic field, varying in frequency between 4 and 12 Hz. In 1 cm tissue depth, magnetic flux density was 105 mT. A total of n = 57 patients were randomly assigned to the verum, PEMF or placebo group (placebo device). Their average age was 61.6 ± 12.0 years. According to American College of Rheumatology criteria the osteoarthritis level was 2.8 ± 0.8. Treatment was performed twice a day for 5 min over a period of 18 days. Treatment with the MAGCELL device versus control (sham exposed) showed a highly significant reduction in pain (P < 0.001), a significant reduction in stiffness (P = 0.032) and a significant reduction in disability in daily activities (P = 0.005) according to the Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Osteoarthritis Index (WOMAC) scales-with a good overall treatment tolerance. In the placebo group there was no evidence of a significant change between the initial and final examination in any of the three above-mentioned WOMAC scales. Results of this partly randomized placebo-controlled double-blind study show clinically at any rate, that use of PEMF lead to highly significant better results in the treatment group compared to the placebo group with regard to the total WOMAC global score and especially for visual analogue scale. Patient assessment of the "effectiveness" was rated in 29.5% as very good and good in 27.3% compared to 0.0% and 15.4% in controls. This therapy is thus a useful complementary treatment option with no side effects.

Rheumatol Int. 2006 Feb;26(4):320-4. Epub 2005 Jun 29.

The effect of pulsed electromagnetic fields in the treatment of cervical osteoarthritis: a randomized, double-blind, sham-controlled trial.

Sutbeyaz ST1, Sezer NKoseoglu BF.


The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effect of electromagnetic field therapy (PEMF) on pain, range of motion (ROM) and functional status in patients with cervical osteoarthritis (COA). Thirty-four patients with COA were included in a randomized, double-blind study. PEMF was administrated to the whole body using a mat 1.8 x 0.6 m in size. During the treatment, the patients lay on the mat for 30 min per session, twice a day for 3 weeks. Pain levels in the PEMF group decreased significantly after therapy (p<0.001), but no change was observed in the placebo group. The active ROM, paravertebral muscle spasm and neck pain and disability scale (NPDS) scores improved significantly after PEMF therapy (p<0.001) but no change was observed in the sham group. The results of this study are promising, in that PEMF treatment may offer a potential therapeutic adjunct to current COA therapies in the future.








Back Pain

Spine J. 2016 Jun;16(6):770-6. doi: 10.1016/j.spinee.2016.01.003. Epub 2016 Jan 15.

Pulsed electromagnetic field (PEMF) treatment reduces expression of genes associated with disc degeneration in human intervertebral disc cells.

Miller SL1, Coughlin DG1, Waldorff EI2, Ryaby JT2, Lotz JC3.



Pulsed electromagnetic field (PEMF) therapies have been applied to stimulate bone healing and to reduce the symptoms of arthritis, but the effects of PEMF on intervertebral disc (IVD) biology is unknown.


The purpose of this study was to determine how PEMF affects gene expression of IVD cells in normal and inflammatory environments.


This was an in vitro human cell culture and microarray gene expression study.


Human annulus fibrosus (AF) and nucleus pulposus (NP) cells were separately encapsulated in alginate beads and exposed to interleukin 1α (IL-1α) (10 ng/mL) to stimulate the inflammatory environment associated with IVD degeneration and/or stimulated by PEMF for 4 hours daily for up to 7 days. RNA was isolated from each treatment group and analyzed via microarray to assess IL-1α- and PEMF-induced changes in gene expression.


Although PEMF treatment did not completely inhibit the effects of IL-1α, PEMF treatment lessened the IL-1α-induced upregulation of genes expressed in degenerated IVDs. Consistent with our previous results, after 4 days, PEMF tended to reduce IL-1α-associated gene expression of IL-6 (25%, p=.07) in NP cells and MMP13 (26%, p=.10) in AF cells. Additionally, PEMF treatment significantly diminished IL-1α-induced gene expression of IL-17A (33%, p=.01) and MMP2 (24%, p=.006) in NP cells and NFκB (11%, p=.04) in AF cells.


These results demonstrate that IVD cells are responsive to PEMF and motivate future studies to determine whether PEMF may be helpful for patients with IVD degeneration.

Copyright © 2016. Published by Elsevier Inc.


Degeneration; IVD; Inflammation; Lower back pain; Matrix; PEMF








[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Eur J Surg Suppl. 1994;(574):83-6.

Electrochemical therapy of pelvic pain: effects of pulsed electromagnetic fields (PEMF) on tissue trauma.

Jorgensen WA1, Frome BMWallach C.


Unusually effective and long-lasting relief of pelvic pain of gynaecological origin has been obtained consistently by short exposures of affected areas to the application of a magnetic induction device producing short, sharp, magnetic-field pulses of a minimal amplitude to initiate the electrochemical phenomenon of electroporation within a 25 cm2 focal area. Treatments are short, fasting-acting, economical and in many instances have obviated surgery. This report describes typical cases such as dysmenorrhoea, endometriosis, ruptured ovarian cyst, acute lower urinary tract infection, post-operative haematoma, and persistent dyspareunia in which pulsed magnetic field treatment has not, in most cases, been supplemented by analgesic medication. Of 17 female patients presenting with a total of 20 episodes of pelvic pain, of which 11 episodes were acute, seven chronic and two acute as well as chronic, 16 patients representing 18 episodes (90%) experienced marked, even dramatic relief, while two patients representing two episodes reported less than complete pain relief.




[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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