In America, aging is a concern for everyone eventually. In middle-aged people and the elderly, joint pain is a common problem. Today, I’m going to cover PEMF therapy for osteoarthritis in the knee.
Education Introduction to Osteoarthritis
In the United States, roughly 50 million people suffer from some form of joint inflammation under the umbrella of arthritis. More specifically, 27 million people suffer from osteoarthritis. Overall, arthritis refers to the inflammation (hence the suffix “itis” meaning “inflammation of”) of the joints. On the other hand, osteoarthritis is the degeneration of joint cartilage and underlying bone between those joints. It’s worth noting that NSAIDS, short for nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, are the popular default for treatment of osteoarthritis. When I mention NSAIDS, you might know them as naproxen, ibuprofen, and aspirin, which are available over the counter. There’s not usually a prescription needed unless a doctor is prescribing a higher dosage.
When it comes to painful health conditions, alternatives are usually part of the conversation. Often times as innovation reaches the surface, pulsed electromagnetic field therapy should be considered. Plenty of resources are available online that go into a tremendous amount of detail. These additional sources (linked below) discuss, at length, very specific parameters for PEMF studies: randomized, double-blind, placebo studies. As I firmly believe and have stated before, the most effective treatment will differ for people based on frequencies and intensities.
The Osteoarthritis Treatment
Pulsed electromagnetic field therapy has shown to increase comfort in patients with knee osteoarthritis. Stiffness in joints was found in many of the patients as well. Where pulsed electromagnetic therapy shines is, again, at the cellular level, specifically the extracellular matrix or ECM. The extracellular matrix is a collection of structural molecules created by cells to support them.
PEMF waves flow into the body at the proper intensity and frequency of course and stimulate function. What those waves are counteracting is a result of a slow-moving process.
Osteoarthritis takes time to both develop and cause major problems. Many joint tissues slowly degrade. Inflammation presents itself on top of the damaged joints. Without some type of strong or beneficial treatment, those cells will favor damage and dysfunction as opposed to growing and improving. “Connective tissue cells also play a role in OA because they secrete a wide range of inflammatory molecules.” — Source. Dr. Pawluk
Digging Into The Research
With the intensities set low and a higher-than-Earth-based frequency, those extracellular matrices and cell growth saw a positive growth. For the cellular structural support to flourish, intensities need to be kept between 15 and 30 Gauss (or 1,500 to 3,000 microTesla). Meanwhile, the frequency should be held steady at 75 Hz. It’s worth noting that stimulation of cells and growth of cells are different philosophies. Stimulation refers to the act of encouraging an action to take place. Growth is more definite: actual expansion. Therefore, as PEMF waves at 75 Hz and 15 microTesla encouraged joint, tissue and cartilage cells as well as the extracellular matrices to successfully grow.
It’s one thing to see the growth of new cells, which is phenomenal. It’s another to see a second positive effect. Cells grew, while at the same time, inflammation was “ECM molecules include collagen II, glycosaminoglycans (GAGs), and proteoglycans (PGs), IL-1b and IGF-1. PEMFs inhibited inflammation producing prostaglandin E2 (PG-E2) production, helping to reduce inflammation, and increased joint capsule cells.” — Source. Dr. Pawluk