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Electromagnetic Field Therapy

Electromagnetic Field Therapy at Swiss Medica Clinic

   Electromagnetic field therapy (EFT) represents unique noninvasive method of physiotherapy in which nonthermal, nonionizing pulsed electromagnetic energy is used. The EFT has been applied successfully as adjunctive therapy in the management of postoperative pain and edema, in the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis as well as in the therapy of chronic wounds and delayed-union fractures.

The EFT has been reported to possess potent analgesic action through modulation the factors involved in pain signaling as well as in the inflammatory response. More specifically, EFT promotes to occurrence the changes in genes expression involved in opioid signaling as well as genes coding modulators of inflammatory pain. It was showed in vitro and in vivo studies that EFT leads to a decrease in messenger RNA and as consequence the proalgesic, proinflammatory cytokine interleukin-1β. On the other hand EFT is associated with increased mRNA levels of the anti-inflammatory cytokine interleukin-10 and enhanced endogenous opioid precursor mRNAs for proenkephalin, pro-opiomelanocortin, prodynorphin, as well as opioid peptides[1].

Several clinical trials have proved that using of EFT is effective as an adjuvant for postoperative pain relief [2,3,4].  In 2014 Harper W.L. et al. published the encouraging results of an open-label pilot study in which the using of the EFT in patients with failed back surgery syndrome was researched.  A clinically meaningful reduction in back and leg pain were observed in patients after receiving the EFT. Also, decreased analgesic consumption as well as improvement in physical function was reported in patients[5].

 It is necessary to mention the results of a double blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial in which the positive effects of the EFT in patients with persistent neck pain were observed. Twenty patients with persistent (greater than 8 weeks) neck pain were enrolled in the study. All of them were allocated in two groups. The first one included the patients who had received the EFT for the first 3-week period. The second group was control. Pain relief and improved range of movement were observed in the first group. During the next 3 weeks both groups were treated by electromagnetic field. Significant improvements in range of movement as well as pain relief were reported in both groups. Thus, the obtained data have confirmed the potent analgesic action of the EFT in patients with persistent neck pain[6].

The beneficial effects of the EFT in the patients with acute whiplash injuries were demonstrated in a double-blind randomized controlled clinical trial by Foley-Nolan D. et al. Pain relief as well as significant improvement in movement scores were noticed in treated patients. It is known that the conventional treatment of acute whiplash injuries (soft collar and analgesia) is frequently unsuccessful. Therefore, the EFT represents effective tool for treatment of patients with acute whiplash injuries[7].

Also, the EFT significantly reduces local edema of soft tissue. It positively affects microcirculation. It was showed that blood flow was enhanced by about 30% in healthy as well as diabetic individuals after the EFT[8,9]. In a randomized, controlled, double-blind clinical trial it was noticed that using of the EFT in the treatment of acute ankle sprains led to sevenfold decrease in edema versus the control group[10]. In 2002 Mayrovitz H.N. et al. reported the results of pilot study in which the EFT in patients after mastectomy led to significant reduction of postmastectomy lymphedema[11].

In several clinical trials it was proved that the EFT accelerates the healing of chronic wounds. Salzberg C.A. et al. reported the results of randomized, double-blind clinical trial which showed that the EFT significantly increased the healing rate of pressure ulcers in the patients with spinal cord injuries[12]. The results of another double-blind pilot clinical study also demonstrated positive action of the EFT on wound healing[13].

It is necessary to notice that EFT represents one of the promising alternatives to conventional treatment for osteoporosis. It prevents bone loss, increases bone mineral density, stimulates osteoblast differentiation and proliferation[14,15]. The Food and Drug Administration of USA approved the EFT as a safe and effective noninvasive method of physiotherapy in the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis.  Also, the EFT is endorsed by regulatory bodies worldwide as adjunctive treatment of delayed-union fractures and spine fusion. The positive action is based on the ability of the EFT to increase the levels of intracellular Ca2+ and nitric oxide leading to stimulation of osteogenesis. Also, enhanced cGMP and protein kinase G activity are observed after exposure of electromagnetic field[16,17,18]. More specifically the EFT acts through modification of the Ca/calmodulin(CaM)-dependent nitric oxide (NO) cascades. It is known that the endothelial and neuronal nitric oxide synthase(eNOS or nNOS)  isoforms produce NO in short bursts leading to the production of cyclic guanosine monophosphate which drives growth factor production[19]. Also, eNOS and nNOS are dependent on the binding of Ca/CaM. The EFT accelerates the Ca/CaM binding leading to increase the activity of eNOS and nNOS which results in enhanced tissue repair[20].

In conclusion due to unique biologic mechanism of action the EFT can be used effectively with other therapies for additive effects to promote pain relief, healing and recovery. Also, the EFT has no known side effects as well as it is simple and cost-effective[21].


  1. Moffett J., Fray L.M., Kubat N.J. Activation of endogenous opioid gene expression in human keratinocytes and fibroblasts by pulsed radiofrequency energy fields. J Pain Res. 2012; 5:347–357.
  2. Rohde C., Chiang A., Adipoju O. et al. Effects of pulsed electromagnetic fields on interleukin-1 beta and postoperative pain: a double-blind, placebo-controlled, pilot study in breast reduction patients. Plast Reconstr Surg. 2010;125(6):1620–1629.
  3. Cortes J., Kubat N., Japour C. Pulsed radio frequency energy therapy use for pain relief following surgery for tendinopathy-associated chronic pain: two case reports. Mil Med. 2013;178(1):e125–e129.
  4. Hedén P, Pilla A.A. Effects of pulsed electromagnetic fields on postoperative pain: a double-blind randomized pilot study in breast augmentation patients. Aesthetic Plast Surg. 2008;32(4):660–666.
  5. Harper W.L., Schmidt W.K., Kubat N.J. et al. An open-label pilot study of pulsed electromagnetic field therapy in the treatment of failed back surgery syndrome pain. Int Med Case Rep J. 2014 Dec 31;8:13-22. doi: 10.2147/IMCRJ.S73068. eCollection 2015.
  6. Foley-Nolan D., Barry C., Coughlan R.J. et al. Pulsed high frequency (27MHz) electromagnetic therapy for persistent neck pain. A double blind, placebo-controlled study of 20 patients.Orthopedics.1990 Apr;13(4):445-51.
  7. Foley-Nolan D., Moore K., Codd M. et al. Low energy high frequency pulsed electromagnetic therapy for acute whiplash injuries. A double blindrandomized controlled study. Scand J Rehabil Med. 1992; 24(1):51-9.
  8. Mayrovitz H.N., Larsen P.B. Effects of pulsed magnetic fields on skin microvascular blood perfusion. Wounds 1992; 4:197–202.
  9. Mayrovitz H.N., Larsen P.B. A preliminary study to evaluate the effect of pulsed radio frequency field treatment on lower extremity periulcer skin microcirculation of diabetic patients. Wounds 1995; 7:90–93.
  10. Pilla A.A., Martin D.E., Schuett A.M. et al. Effect of pulsed radiofrequency therapy on edema from grades I and II ankle sprains: a placebo controlled, randomized, multi-site, doubleblind clinical study. J Athl Train 1996; 31(suppl):53.
  11. Mayrovitz H.N., Macdonald J., Sims N. Effects of pulsed radio frequency diathermy on postmastectomy arm lymphedema and skin blood flow: a pilot investigation. Lymphology 2002; 85:87–90.
  12. Salzberg C.A., Cooper-Vastola S.A.,  Perez F. et al. The effects of non-thermal pulsed electromagnetic energy on wound healing of pressure ulcers in spinal cord-injured patients: a randomized, double-blind study. Ostomy Wound Manage. Apr 1995;41(3):42-4, 46, 48.
  13. Kloth L.C., Berman J.E., Sutton C.H. et al. Effect of pulsed radio frequency stimulation on wound healing: a double-blind pilot clinical study. In: Bersani F, editor. Electricity and magnetism in biology and medicine. New York: Plenum Press; 1999:875–878.
  14. Garland D.E., Adkins R.H., Matsuno N.N. et al. The effect of pulsed electromagnetic fields on osteoporosis at the knee in individuals with spinal cord injury. J. Spinal Cord Med.1999; 22: 239–245.
  15. Tabrah F.L., Ross P., Hoffmeier M. et al. Clinical report on long-term bone density after short-term EMF application. Bioelectromagenetics 1998; 19: 75–78.
  16. Fitzsimmons R.J., Gordon S.L., Kronberg J. et al. A pulsing electric field (PEF) increases human chondrocyte proliferation through a transduction pathway involving nitric oxide signaling. J. Orthop. Res. 2008; 26: 854–859.
  17. Cheng G., Zhai Y., Chen al. Sinusoidal electromagnetic field stimulates rat osteoblast differentiation and maturation via activation of NO-cGMP-PKG pathway. Nitric Oxide 2011; 25:316–325.
  18. Aaron R.K., Ciombor D.M., Simon B.J. Treatment of nonunions with electric and electromagnetic fields. Clin Orthop Relat Res 2004; 419:21–29.
  19. Madhusoodanan K.S., Murad F. NO-cGMP signaling and regenerative medicine involving stem cells. Neurochem Res 2007; 32:681–694.
  20. Bruckdorfer R. The basics about nitric oxide. Mol Aspects Med 2008; 26:3–31.
  21. Strauch B., Herman C., Dabb R. et al. Evidence-based use of pulsed electromagnetic field therapy in clinical plastic surgery. Aesthet Surg J. 2009 Mar-Apr; 29(2):135-43. doi:10.1016/j.asj.2009.02.001.