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PEMF - Physiological Response and Its Potential in Trauma Treatment

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Abstract

The way our environment interacts with our bodies is crucial for recovering from trauma. Over many years, scientists have studied how Pulsed Electromagnetic Fields (PEMF) affect our bodies and cells. These studies were motivated by positive results in treating patients, especially in orthopedics. However, the diversity in study setups has made it challenging to understand PEMF's mechanisms. In this overview, we summarize various studies on PEMF, hoping to identify commonalities and reporting parameters to enhance our universal understanding of its effects for future research and clinical use.

Introduction

Cells and tissues respond to changes in their environment, like pressure, pH levels, and fluid flow. Mechanical forces, especially relevant in wound healing and bone formation, were described in 1892 by Wolf. In the 1950s, Yasuda found that pressure on bones generates electrical currents, linked to collagen's response to stress. Collagen's electrical properties help osteocytes sense stress, influencing bone formation. Collagen is present in various body tissues, making this interaction relevant throughout the body.

Pulsed electromagnetic fields (PEMFs) can induce similar cellular responses without mechanical stress. Introduced in the 1970s, PEMF is used clinically for orthopedic issues. Despite decades of use, understanding its molecular mechanisms and clinical outcomes remains challenging. This review aims to organize information on PEMF's physical background, cellular response, mechanisms, and clinical applications in trauma and regeneration. The complexity of publications requires manual correction, but future AI tools may streamline this process.

Technology

PEMF therapy is a non-invasive treatment that uses pulsed magnetic fields to stimulate tissues in the body. These magnetic fields are generated through intermittent pulses of electrical current, and different waveforms, such as rectangular or sinusoidal, can be employed. The therapy duration can vary from a few minutes to several hours.

Despite being around for years, PEMF lacks clear guidelines for categorization. One possible approach is to differentiate by frequency, with categories like ULF (Ultra Low Frequency), ELF (Extremely Low Frequency), and VLF (Very Low Frequency) magnetic fields. However, a challenge arises due to the pulsed nature of PEMF, where the term "frequency" is often associated with pulse repetition rather than the actual field variations.

Another term, HI (High Intensity) PEMF, refers to treatments generating a strong peak magnetic field. The strength of the magnetic field is measured using magnetic flux density (B), ranging from a few microTesla to several Tesla. Despite the availability of higher flux densities, weaker field strengths are commonly used due to their simpler generation.

PEMF Therapy in the Clinic: A Quick Overview

PEMF therapy, a treatment using electromagnetic fields, has been explored in various clinical settings, mainly in orthopedics and traumatology. It has also been tested for neurological disorders and wound healing. However, the diverse outcomes in clinical trials can be attributed to variations in treatment parameters like therapy frequency and duration.

Numerous studies have investigated the effects of PEMFs on the human body, leading to a wide range of treatment variables. This diversity makes it challenging to establish a standardized treatment regimen with common parameters. While some suggest further dose-response studies, we believe conducting multiple clinical trials with consistent parameters is crucial for better efficacy assessment.

In this blog post, we review recent clinical trials on PEMF therapy, emphasizing the heterogeneity of treatment variables. The trials are categorized based on the clinical areas where PEMF has been applied. Understanding these variations is essential for future clinical trials in the field.

Concluding Remarks Regarding Clinical Applications

Regardless of the reviews considered and part of the studies, almost every article discusses the heterogeneity of the parameters used. In this context, the sometimes dramatically different selected physical treatment parameters and the treatment variables are an impetus for criticism.

However, positive effects are repeatedly reported if one looks at the clinical results in the various indications, above all in orthopedics and traumatology, in bone healing disorders. From these two findings, it is logical to call for additional studies, in which it would be desirable to use, at least initially, the same parameters to ensure better comparability. Subsequently, it would make sense to systematically vary the various parameters individually until the best possible success is achieved with this setting.

Ref: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC10379303/

Tag: Pemf

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