Dealing with inflammation and chronic pain can seem like a never-ending struggle. Although there are numerous options for management, many involve invasive treatments or long courses of medication.
One revolutionary therapy that can reduce/eliminate chronic pain and inflammation is PEMF therapy. In this article, we’ll look at what magnetic therapy is, some of its benefits, and how it can help with pain and inflammation.
What is PEMF Therapy?
PEMF stands for Pulsed Electro-Magnetic Field. In short, this magnetic therapy involves pulsing electromagnetic energy into the body to help stimulate and exercise cells. Rather than adding new “things” into the body, it instead promotes natural cellular processes to aid pain relief and recovery.
How Does It Work?
As you may already know, our bodies run on electricity. The signals sent around your nervous system are electrical, and these signals help manage and control cells. Pulsed Electro-Magnetic Field therapy simply creates a large electromagnetic field around your body, which influences cellular metabolism.
The process is as follows:
- The client lies or sits and the machine is turned on.
- The machine’s mat creates a magnetic field around the body.
- This causes cells to become positively charged, which, in turn, stimulates other electrical currents. This triggers a pulse.
- Cells use this electrical pulse to start healing themselves.
The current scientific understanding of Pulsed Electro-Magnetic Field therapy is that it stimulates voltage-gated calcium channels within cells. This leads to the release of calcium and nitric oxide, which helps stimulate blood vessel production. While we don’t need to get too deep into the science of how it works, it’s always helpful to have a basic understanding.
Most traditional Pulsed Electro-Magnetic Field therapy machines are mats set up on a chair or the floor. You lie on it and it creates an electromagnetic field. However, there are other accessories and devices for this treatment, some of which can provide more targeted stimulation and pain relief.
A session of magnetic therapy can last anywhere from 60 minutes to 90 minutes. It’s low risk enough that it can be done daily, although most clients receive a few sessions a week. You can either have it administered professionally or you can buy at-home devices. Note, though, that at-home magnetic therapy mats will never be as strong as a professional device.
Because Pulsed Electro-Magnetic Field therapy works with electromagnetism, the intensity of the treatment is dictated by frequency (in hertz) and field strength (in Tesla). The most common frequencies for magnetic field therapy are 6-57Hz with a field strength of 0.4-2.3 milli-Tesla.
What Are The Benefits?
Pulsed Electro-Magnetic Field therapy is, overall, a useful treatment for a range of conditions. To understand why, here are some of its clearest benefits.
1. It’s non-invasive
Perhaps the most important benefit for anyone seeking pain reduction is that this therapy is completely non-invasive. It simply involves sitting on a mat that creates a magnetic field. Unlike other pain and inflammation treatments, it doesn’t involve surgery or anything else that could be considered risky.
2. There’s no medication involved
While this isn’t to say you won’t be able to give up any medication you’re on, Pulsed Electro-Magnetic Field therapy itself doesn’t involve any medication. Considering you might already be on a few different prescriptions, this is a big help.
3. It’s proven as a treatment for chronic pain
Discussing the benefits of a particular treatment means nothing if there’s no proof to back up its efficacy. Luckily, there’s plenty of research about pulsed magnetic therapy in relation to pain management.
A 2018 study found that this effective therapy halved the pain scores of patients who had recently undergone spinal surgery. The control group stated an average pain decrease of 18.6%, whereas the PEMF group stated a pain decrease of 40.2% in the same period.
A study from 2007 concluded that magnetic field therapy may be a useful way to deal with the symptoms of fibromyalgia. It couldn’t say for certain because its test group was too small, but stated that larger trials would likely confirm the same findings.
Finally, a 2015 study looked into the effects of this therapy on inflammation. It found that PEMF changes gene expression in scar tissue and soft tissue inflammation. In short, the therapy confirmed previous findings that Pulsed Electro-Magnetic Field therapy can help speed up the recovery time from inflammation.
There are hundreds more studies into the effects of this treatment on chronic pain and inflammation. It’s safe to say that it’s certainly worth considering if you live with either of these conditions.
4. It helps with other conditions
Our main focus here is on PEMF therapy and physical conditions, but it can help ease mental health conditions, too. One study found that this treatment almost completely relieved insomniacs of their symptoms over a 4-week period.
Similarly, this therapy has been tested as a treatment for depression and anxiety. In 2014, a study found that twice-daily doses vastly increased patients’ remission of depression. Importantly, these people had what’s known as ‘treatment resistant depression”, meaning standard methods had failed to relieve them of their symptoms.
What Conditions Can It Help?
In theory, magnetic therapy can be tested for almost any chronic pain or inflammation condition. It’s regularly used as management in the following conditions, but not limited to:
- Osteoarthritis – for stiffness, pain, and inflammation
- Joint inflammation and pain
- Injury recovery
- MS-related fatigue
- Pelvic pain
- Chronic back pain
This obviously isn’t a complete list of the conditions magnetic therapy can help. However, these all have trials backing up the efficacy of Pulsed Electro-Magnetic Field therapy. There is some research into its impact on mental health conditions, but it’s nowhere near as extensive.
Who Isn’t An Ideal Candidate For This Treatment?
Generally, this method of treatment is safe for almost everyone because it’s low-risk and non-invasive. However, there are a few situations in which it’s an absolute no-go. These are:
This hardly needs an explanation, but people who are pregnant or plan to become pregnant soon shouldn’t use Pulsed Electro-Magnetic Field therapy. A 1990 study found it had a noticeable impact on fetal and baby health in a group of rats. But if you’ve ever been pregnant, you’ll already know the kind of restrictions put on you while you’re carrying a baby.
This is another no-brainer, but if you have something like a pace-maker implanted, you should avoid any device that creates a magnetic field. The use of this form of therapy can disrupt the pace-makers signal, leading to further complications.
People on Immunosuppressants
Finally, there are people on immunosuppressants. A benefit of Pulsed Electro-Magnetic Field therapy is that it stimulates an immune response, which is how it helps with inflammation. Of course, if you’re on immunosuppressants because of something like an organ transplant or medical treatment, you hardly want to stimulate your immune response. In transplant patients, it could cause the body to reject the organ.
Final Thoughts on Magnetic Therapy
Overall, PEMF therapy is a low-risk and largely beneficial way of reducing/eliminating chronic pain and inflammation. Importantly, it’s non-invasive and works with the body’s natural processes to stimulate cellular production and recovery.
At Angel Hydrotherapy, our mission is to help you improve your overall health and quality of life. If you are unsure whether this treatment is the right treatment for you, please don’t hesitate to get in touch and one of our experts will help answer all your questions.
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