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Joint Disease Studied With PEMF Pulsed ElectroMagnetic Fields Therapy

Osteoarthritis (OA) is a degenerative disease that affects one or more joints and is associated with inflammatory processes in the synovium, loss of cartilage, and alterations of bone structure. OA can manifest clinically as pain, swelling, deformity, instability, or impaired function in the affected joints. Typical localizations include knee, hip, hand, as well as lumbar and cervical joints.

The prevalence of OA is expected to increase in the coming decades due to the aging general population. Globally, the prevalence of knee OA in people aged 15 years and over is around 16%, while the prevalence in people over 40 years of age is much higher at around 22.9%.

The pooled global incidence is 203 per 10,000 person-years in those over the age of 20 years, with females and people with obesity being more likely to be affected. Knee OA is the most prevalent form of OA accounting for 75% of the worldwide OA burden.

In addition to invasive, operative interventions, a multitude of conservative treatment options are available, especially in the field of physical medicine, including but not limited to physiotherapy, transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS), acupuncture, local heat and cold application, as well as pharmacological analgesia, e.g. with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID).

Pulsed electromagnetic field (PEMF) therapy is an emerging modality for the treatment of musculoskeletal disorders with a wide range of indications. The PEMF involves time-varying magnetic fields that are generated by strong electrical currents passing through a coil. The frequency, intensity, and shape (i.e. shape of intensity change over time) of these magnetic pulses can be determined and manipulated by physicians.

Some of the key advantages of PEMF are the high tolerability due to low side effects, its non-invasive nature and the relatively simple therapeutic applicability. Regarding clinical use, PEMF can be effective in relieving pain and improving functionality in patients with OA, as well as accelerating wound healing, reducing inflammation and treating soft tissue injuries.

Although several randomized controlled trials (RCT) have been conducted over the past few decades, there is no consensus or guidelines to help physicians tailor the treatment regimen to their patients, particularly in terms of duration, frequency, and intensity of PEMF therapy sessions. It is just noted that PEMF benefit people with joint issues.


  1. "The Effectiveness of Pulsed Electromagnetic Fields in the Management of Osteoarthritis Knee Pain: A Meta-analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials" by S. Sutbeyaz et al. (published in the Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation) - This meta-analysis reviewed 10 randomized controlled trials and found that PEMF therapy was effective in reducing pain and improving physical function in patients with osteoarthritis of the knee.

  2. "Pulsed Electromagnetic Fields for the Treatment of Knee Osteoarthritis: A Double-Blind, Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Study" by C. Vavken et al. (published in the Journal of Orthopaedic Research) - This randomized controlled trial found that PEMF therapy reduced pain and improved physical function in patients with knee osteoarthritis.

  3. "Pulsed Electromagnetic Fields for the Treatment of Osteoarthritis: A Prospective, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study" by M. Trock et al. (published in the Journal of Rheumatology) - This randomized controlled trial found that PEMF therapy was effective in reducing pain and improving physical function in patients with osteoarthritis of the knee or hip.