Electromagnetic pulses significantly decrease pain and inflammation associated with osteoarthritis of the knee, according to Henry Ford Hospital researchers.
In the double-blind, randomized placebo-controlled study, 34 patients used a portable battery-operated device that emits a low-intensity pulsating electromagnetic frequency and experienced more than 40 percent pain relief on their first day.
"Our results show pulsed electromagnetic fields caused a significant decrease in pain" says Fred Nelson, M.D., associate program director for research and director of the Osteoarthritis Center, Department of Orthopaedics, Henry Ford Hospital.
Dr. Nelson will present the results this week at the Orthopaedic Research Society's annual meeting in New Orleans.
Dr. Nelson explains that in the laboratory, electromagnetic signals have been shown to decrease calcium in cartilage cells. This sets off a series of chemical events that can lead to reduced inflammation. Previously, the electromagnetic fields have been used to control pain related to cosmetic surgery.
"We are really fine-tuning what we are doing to the cell environment with a very specific pulse sequence and frequency," says Dr. Nelson.
Patients strapped the small, ring-shaped plastic device around their knees for 15 minutes, twice daily for six weeks. The device was lightweight and patients could position the device directly over clothing. All participants were given a device with a coil that appeared to work but some were assigned active coils and others were given non-active coils. The electromagnetic device was developed by Ivivi Health Sciences of Montvale, New Jersey.
Osteoarthritis of the knee is a leading cause of disability and loss of independence. It is a slow, progressively degenerative disease in which the joint cartilage gradually wears away due to trauma, aging or infection. As the cartilage thins, the surrounding bone thickens and often bone
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