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Clinical data


Many papers report that PEMF as FDA - approved therapy is effective for treating pseudoartrosis, diabetes mellitus induced complications, delayed wound healing, pain and neurodegenerative disorders [20-28]. In the clinic, this therapy has positive effects for the regeneration of musculoskeletal tissues such as cartilage, bone, tendon and ligament [29-34]. Ryang We et al. [18] found a significant beneficial effect of PEMF on WOMAC pain scores at 1 month compared with a sham treatment (see [35]). In addition, a recent study of our group revealed a significant and relevant improvement in pain category of the WOMAC questionnaire, and significant improvements in mobility, daily activity score as well as global score during treatment of acute osteoarthritis of knee joint (severity level 2-4 according to ACR criteria).

PEMF therapy option is of particular relevance due to its effect on pain in patients. This is important when the patients suffer from intolerance to chronic and high doses of e.g. non- steroidal anti-rheumatic drugs. Due to pain reduction, mobility and ability to perform daily activities were improved. In consequence, this is beneficial for both passive physical movement and for physical training performed by the patient [36]. In addition, several recent studies showed again the effectiveness of the PEMF treatment in clinical assessment of arthritis and neuropathy [37-40]. On the other hand, transcutaneous electro stimulation by electrodes for therapy of knee osteoarthritis is reported to be not effective for pain relief [41].


In this review we compile results cited in reliable journals that show a ratio for the use of pulsed electromagnetic fields (PEMF) in therapy, indeed. This is true especially for chronically inflamed joints. Furthermore, we try to link this therapeutic approach to the molecular background of chronic inflammation and arthritis. At first we start with the clinical outcome of PEMF therapy. Then, we look for possible triggers and an electromagnetic counterpart that is endogenously inherent in cell biology and in the tissues of interest. Finally, we want to investigate causal molecular and cellular mechanisms of possible PEMF actions. It shows that there are endogenous mechanisms, indeed, which can act as triggers for PEMF like the resting membrane potential as well as resonance mechanisms in charged moieties like membrane transporters. Especially voltage-gated calcium channels can be triggered. These may lead into specific signaling pathways and also may elicit nitric oxide as well as moderate radical reactions, which can ultimately lead to e.g. NFκB-like reactions. Concerted in the right way, these reactions can cause a kind of cell protection and ultimately lead to a dampening of inflammatory signals like interleukins.

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