Pulsed Electromagnetic Field therapy or PEMF therapy may sound like something out of a sci-fi future world, not least because it's been used by NASA to help mitigate muscle atrophy and bone loss in astronauts. However, it is a real technology that can aid pain management, and this article has the facts you're looking for regarding PEMF treatment and the science behind its sensational health claims.
What Exactly Is PEMF Therapy?
PEMF therapy devices emit electromagnetic waves at different wavelengths to help stimulate and encourage the body's natural recovery mechanisms.
You might wonder how PEMF technology can be beneficial to the body when other electromagnetic pulses, like the ones emitted by X-ray machines and microwaves, are detrimental to your body. It's the duration and the frequency that make the difference: PEMF therapy devices generate waves in short bursts at very low frequencies, closer to the electromagnetic waves that occur in nature. In fact, the majority of the waves experienced during PEMF treatments have a lower frequency than those you'd be exposed to during a thunderstorm.
Does PEMF Therapy Actually Work?
Pulsed Electromagnetic Field therapy has been used to improve circulation, bone healing, energy levels, depression, sleep function, immune function, and the rate of injury healing. The low frequencies in PEMF therapy pass through the skin and penetrate into muscles, tendons, bones, and even organs to activate cell energy and encourage their natural repair processes.
Cell membranes have positive and negative magnetic charges, but since those cells can degrade over time or become damaged due to injury, sometimes these charges fail to function. That means your cells are then incapable of exchanging the ions that are transporting the chemical compounds your body needs, like potassium and calcium. The symptoms that arise from this type of failure to function include chronic pain, fatigue, and inflammation. PEMF is a noninvasive way to target these areas, and call the body's attention to them.
Scientific Proof Behind PEMF Therapy
Here is what scientists have been able to show regarding the use PEMF therapy.
- PEMF therapy was able to significantly reduced pain and swelling after plastic surgery.
- One study found that PEMF therapy decreased the pain in chronic pain conditions like fibromyalgia.
- There have been several instances of PEMF therapy helping in the fusing of tibial fractures.
- PEMF treatment helped prevent cartilage breakdown in cases of osteoarthritis, and improved the functional performance of patients with arthritis after just 1 month of therapy.
- PEMF therapy showed potential for nerve fiber regeneration in the spinal cord and the peripheral nerves.
- PEMF therapy improved or completely eliminated the symptoms of rotator cuff injury in patients in one small study.
- PEMF treatment has activated lysozyme in cell cultures, a significant step needed for bone regeneration, and has positively influenced the growth of bone cells in lab-generated bone tissue.
- PEMF therapy has helped accelerate liver regeneration in rats who've had part of their livers removed.
5 Facts About PEMF Machines
Have we stoked your curiosity about PEMF machines? Here are some more interesting facts to know.
1. Many of the Original PEMF Machines Were Developed in Eastern Europe
The first PEMF devices came from the Czech Republic, found their way to Hungary in the 1980s, and swept through Europe by the 1990s. The original PEMF devices were quite large, consisting of a Helmholtz coil. A patient was placed inside of the machine to receive a uniform dose of magnetic energy. Modern PEMF machines are about the size of a yoga mat and use the magnetic loop coil invented by Nikola Tesla long before the invention of the PEMF machine.
2. PEMF Therapy Was First Approved by the FDA in 1979
The first FDA-approved PEMF system was meant to stimulate bone healing and treat nonunion fractures, and since then has come into use for various post-surgical healing therapies, pain relief, and even treatment for depression. The machines are safe for use on humans and animals.
3. PEMF Technology Was Then Adopted by NASA
Wider therapeutic uses of PEMF technology emerged after 2003, when NASA did a 4-year study on the use of electromagnetic fields to stimulate repair and growth in mammalian tissue. Once pulsed electromagnetic fields were successfully used to help astronauts after their return from space, scientists theorized that the cause of astronaut fatigue, depression, and bone loss has to do with being away from the beneficial magnetic field that naturally emanates from the Earth.
4. PEMF Therapy Has a Long Track Record of Clinical Success
PEMF therapy has years of positive clinical success in treating the body at the cellular level using pulsing electromagnetic waves at specific frequencies. Since its 1979 FDA approval, pulsed electromagnetic field therapy has been known to treat a wide array of conditions in clinical trials performed by hospitals, physiotherapists, rheumatologists, and neurologists.
5. PEMF Machines Are Completely Safe, Unlike X-ray Machines
Electric and magnetic fields (EMFs) are often referred to as radiation. EMFs are invisible fields of energy associated with lighting pulses and electrical power. There are two radioactive categories EMFs fall into based on their wavelength and frequency.
- Non-ionizing: This is low-to-mid-level radiation that is generally understood to be harmless to humans, and can be found in computers, microwaves, radio frequencies, cell phones, bluetooth devices, power lines, and MRI machines.
- Ionizing: These are mid-to-high-levels of radiation, and have the potential for DNA and/or cellular damage with long exposure, like UV rays from sunlight and X-ray machines.
Should You Explore PEMF Therapy?
A disruption to the electrical currents of your cell membranes can lead to a lifetime of pain, so if you're suffering from joint pain, chronic pain and fatigue conditions, or a recent injury, PEMF therapy might be an option for you.
If you're concerned about PEMF therapy quackery, or worried about PEMF therapy side effects, know that this technology has never been associated with any adverse or negative side effects, and consult with your doctor or a trusted health care expert to see if electromagnetic therapy might be the noninvasive treatment option that's right for you.