The Study of efficacy and safety of Electromagnetic therapy device in chronic pain treatment - Part 1


Associate Professor Dr. Vichien Laohacharoensombat
Department of Orthopedics, Faculty of Medicine Ramathibodi Hospital


Associate Professor Dr. Kampon Sriwathanakul
Department of Pharmacology, Faculty of Science, Mahidol University


Introduction of Electromagnetic Therapy

The application of electromagnetic energy in treatment of diseases was initiated at the beginning of 16th decade. Paracelsus, a Swiss physician utilized magnets in the treatments of epilepsy, diarrhea and hemorrhagic conditions (1).

During the mid 18th century, electromagnetic therapy received a great deal of attention among general public in Europe. This was due to an Austrian physician, Franz Mesmer who applied this technique successfully in taking care of his patients.

Despite the fact that electro magnetic therapy was well accepted by laymen, there were a lot of arguments against its usefulness since there were not enough evidence to support that electromagnetic therapy does really work (2-9).

In order to assess the efficacy of electro magnetic therapy used by Mesmer, three scientists namely Antonine Lavoisier, Benjamin Franklin and Dr. J.I. Guillotin investigated it using double-blind study.

Antonine Lavoisier discovered the role of oxygen in breathing and its inflammability. Benjamin Franklin was the world renowned American scientists. Dr. J.I. Guillotin invented the Guillotine for beheading of French royal family and aristocrats.

The volunteers were given electromagnetic treatment with electromagnetic equipment and placebo equipment. The results of the study indicated that the improvement observed by patients would actually be due to faith in and convincing power of Mesmer.

Dr. Mesmer requested to do another study to compare the results of treatment between electro magnetic therapy and the best treatments available at the time. However, those three experts declined to do any further study.

During the following centuries, there were several physicians and researchers including Elisha Perkins, Dr. S.J. Thatcher and Dr. Albert Abrams utilized magnets in the treatment of various diseases.

Dr. Thatcher was the one who explained that electromagnetic wave was derived from sunlight and energy was being carried by red blood cells for treating the illnesses.

Even though Dr. Thatcher was looked down by medical community, he was able to show that electromagnetic therapy can relive pain. In his study, improvement was found in three-fourths of the patients and pain recurred after stopping the treatment.

After year 1920, electromagnetic therapy was claimed for treatment of various diseases without substantial proof. Such claims discredited electromagnetic treatment. The popularity was declined ever since.

After Second World War, discoveries of antibiotic and other scientific advances replaced the use of electromagnetic therapy in treatment of diseases. Until now, several drugs have caused serious side effects and making alternative treatments including electromagnetic treatment more popular in certain countries.

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