The Study of efficacy and safety of Electromagnetic therapy device in chronic pain treatment - Part 2



Electromagnetic waves have been extensively studied to understand more about their effects.

In 1820, Hans Christian Oersted, a Danish physicist proved that by passing electric currents into coil, magnetic energy can be produced. In France, Andre-Marie Ampere demonstrated magnetic energy is carried by electric currents.

During the year 1820, William Sturgeron in U.K. and Joseph Henry, U.S.A. developed electromagnetic equipment.

They showed that by winding copper wire around magnet, the produced magnetic energy could lift up heavy iron bars.

Michael Faraday, an English chemist, also demonstrated that magnets could produce electrical energy and vice versa, electric currents may also produce magnetism.

He was the first pioneer to manufacture dynamo used in mechanical engineering.

After discovery by Michael Faraday, there were many other scientists including James Maxwell, Galvani, Volta, Louis Pasteur, Pierre and Maria Curie, and Albert Einstein studying the effects of electromagnetic waves other than magnetic waves. It was shown that magnetic energy can produce electrical potential according to the following equation:

V = n x a x dB/dt

V = Voltage
n = umber of rounds in the coil
a = surface area surrounding the unit
dB/dt = rate of changes in electromagnetism with respect to time
B = intensity of magnetic field (Tesla)

For example, if B varies from 0 to 1 Tesla in 1 millisecond, dB/dt = 1000 Teslas/sec. Intensity of magnetic field can be measured in units of Gauss (1 Tesla = 10,000 Gauss)

By considering above formula, static magnetic energy cannot produce electric currents since dB/dt is equal to 0. Therefore, static magnetic field does not affect the body tissues by inducing electrical currents. This points out the differences in efficacy of electromagnetic and magnetic equipment.

The synthesis and repair of body tissues are under the influences of biological mediator such as cytokines and growth factors. Physical factors especially mechanical and electrical regulate the synthesis of extra cellular tissues by stimulating signaling pathways located at cell membranes.

This will affect signal transduction cascades causing changes in cytoskeletal structures.

There are enough evidences to support the existence of electrical currents in body at all times. For example, electrical currents can be measured in beating heart and during new bone growth.

Therefore, by passing appropriate electrical currents by electric wires or magnetic induction, it may have effects on body tissues in several ways. The aim of this study is to evaluate the effects of electromagnetic therapy in pain relief.


Electromagnetic waves and pain relief

Electromagnetic therapy is recognized as one of the alternative treatments for relieving pain. The mechanism of action in pain relief has not been clearly explained. However, it is not likely to be related to nerve transmission since in order to delay nerve conduction by 10%, electromagnetic energy up to 24 Teslas will be required.

Controversies exist in studies assessing the efficacy of electromagnetic treatment in pain reduction. Results of several studies demonstrated significant pain reduction in patient suffering from osteoarthritis and persistent neck pain. But negative results were also shown in patients with shoulder arthritis.

From the available evidences, it is not yet possible to fully support the efficacy of electromagnetic therapy in pain reduction. It is necessary to perform a randomized, double-blind controlled study to evaluate the efficacy of this alternative treatment.

There were several studies showing the effectiveness of electromagnetic therapy in relieving pain of different causes including osteoarthritis (4-5), shoulder arthritis (6), persistent neck pain (7), myofascial pain (8) and muscular pain (9).

The objective of this study is to evaluate the efficacy and safety of electromagnetic therapy in the treatment of chronic pain.

Sixty subjects were divided into 2 groups of 30 each. The treated group received treatments by electromagnetic devices and the control group received fake treatment by being treated with look-a-like devices but having no electromagnetic output.

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