Pulsed Electromagnetic Field (PEMF) therapy works just like it sounds. An intermittent magnetic pulse is directed though injured tissue, such as an arthritic knee joint. This electromagnetic field has been shown to exhibit anti-inflammatory effects as well as regenerative potential in damaged tissue. The therapy was first introduced in the 1970s as a treatment for non-healing bone fractures, however its use expanded into treatment of Osteoarthritis and cartilage lesions.
Previous PEMF studies have yielded mixed results for Arthritis treatment. However, a recent review article attempted to evaluate the true efficacy of PEMF by examining its cumulative effects in 482 patients across fourteen of the most accurate clinical trials. The study revealed that PEMF therapy was more effective than the placebo groups at 4-8 weeks of consistent therapy, illustrating improvements in pain and overall joint function. The summation of data in the review article illustrates the net positive results of PEMF therapy in Osteoarthritis, and reveals evidence highly supportive of effective OA management with Pulsed Electromagnetic Field therapy. Additional controlled trials are needed to conclusively illustrate PEMF efficacy, but research looks promising for PEMF as a conservative treatment modality for Osteoarthritis.
While Dr Steven Sampson was speaking at The International Cartilage Repair Society Stem Cell & Scaffolds Meeting In Bologna Italy last month, data was presented from Italian physicians that showed many benefits of PEMF following knee surgery which also has a positive effect on osteoarthritis disease. PEMF may have a role following injection based therapies like Hyaluronic Acid or Platelet Rich Plasma however more studies are needed to determine the optimal role of PEMF.
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