What Is Pulsed Electromagnetic Field (PEMF) Therapy?

Updated on July 27, 2018
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Chris is an engineer, thinker, and philosopher who enjoys exploring futuristic ideas and technology.

At the cellular level, minor chemical imbalances or dysfunctions can lead to a variety of diseases and conditions. In recent times, doctors and researchers around the world have begun using devices that can potentially prevent cellular dysfunction and disease via treatment with a controlled electromagnetic field. This technology is called pulsed electromagnetic field (PEMF) therapy and is being touted as a new alternative way to treat a wide variety of ailments and conditions. What is this technology and can it help you? In this article, I will discuss some of the findings, reported benefits, potential side effects, PEMF device types, and the controversy over the efficacy of PEMF therapy.

Potential Benefits

When used in combination with other types of treatments or by itself, PEMF therapy has been shown to reduce pain and inflammation and to help promote healing of injuries. In addition, PEMF has been used as a treatment for arthritis and to improve joint function. Other potential benefits of PEMF therapy include increased energy and improved blood oxygenation, blood pressure, sleep quality, and even cellular detoxification. In addition to these things, it's been reported that many elite athletes have used this technology to expedite their recovery after intense workouts and to improve their stamina and endurance.

However, PEMF technology has traditionally been beneficial in reducing pain and inflammation and promoting healing. According to the research, PEMF therapy is very good at enhancing muscle repair and improving cellular regeneration which helps with injury recovery. In fact, one of the primary uses for PEMF therapy has been to help promote bone fusions and healing after a fracture or break. PEMF therapy is growing in popularity with doctors and patients around the world because it is relatively inexpensive and is generally regarded as safe to use. In Europe, doctors have been using PEMF therapy to treat patients for more than two decades.

Why Electromagnetic Fields?

Electromagnetic fields play a very important role in our daily health. At the cellular level, our bodies use electromagnetic signals to transmit information to and from the brain. Within our cells, biochemical processes are controlled by electromagnetic reactions which are occurring all of the time. All interactions between our organs and our brains are controlled via electromagnetic transmissions. In fact, just like the earth itself, our bodies produce a detectable electromagnetic field. This field can either be disrupted (through exposure to negative electromagnetic fields) or enhanced, potentially affecting your overall health.

Since the basis of all interactions and processes within the body is electromagnetically governed, PEMF therapy can, therefore, be used to positively impact cell functions by exploiting the body's natural dependence on electromagnetic energy. The theory behind PEMF technology is that doctors can carefully control the amplitude, frequency, waveform, and pulse intensity of an electromagnetic field and direct the energy output to a specific part of the body or the body as a whole.

PEMF Therapy Devices

There are several PEMF therapy devices currently available on the market. One of the most popular PEMF devices is a knee brace that is designed to reduce joint swelling, improve mobility, and relieve pain from arthritis or an injury. This device usually features thermal (heat) pads that work in conjunction with electromagnetic pulses. The FDA has already approved the use of this PEMF enabled knee brace in America.

Other products that you or your doctor may find include PEMF pads and PEMF patches. Some are designed for specific parts of the body such as the lower and upper back or the neck. These devices are typically available online from foreign retailers however most have not been approved by the FDA. For this reason, the effectiveness of these devices is suspect. Always consult with your healthcare practitioner before purchasing or using any PEMF therapy products for home use, including those already approved by the FDA.

Potential Side Effects

Based on the research, most PEMF therapy patients experience little to no side effects. However, minor or even significant reactions can and have occurred to a few patients. In some cases, a patient may experience mild discomfort during the use of the PEMF device depending on where the therapy is targeted and what the intensity level is. In almost every case, the discomfort is temporary and fades away after use of the PEMF device is discontinued. In most cases, adjusting the PEMF devices output levels or frequency can result in an improved experience for the patient.

In addition to discomfort during using, PEMF therapy may lower blood pressure and reduce heart rate. This is usually seen as a good thing, however, in some cases it can produce negative effects for the patient. This is especially the case in older people and those on bed rest. This condition is temporary and usually subsides when the therapy is complete. Overall, PEMF therapy is seen as a safe and effective treatment for a variety of ailments and conditions.


In recent years, there has been controversy over the efficacy of PEMF treatment. Some patients have reported spending thousands of dollars only have the same symptoms return after the therapy is stopped. In some cases, patients reported that there was no positive affect on the overall health and their symptoms never actually went away.

As mentioned previously, anyone can order a PEMF therapy device online. However, this does not mean that the device will actually work. Manufacturers could be selling fake devices, un-calibrated devices, or devices that simply don't do what they are supposed to do. In addition, it's quite possible that some patients simply won't respond well to PEMF therapy. Still, some doctors don't support PEMF technology and say that it has no health benefits at all. In the end, it's very important to discuss PEMF therapy with your doctor. A doctor trained in this technology can write you a prescription for a PEMF device that comes from a reputable manufacturer.


I am not a doctor or a health professional and do not provide medical advice. Readers are advised to do their own research and make decisions in partnership with their healthcare provider. If you are pregnant, nursing, have a medical condition or are taking any medication, please consult your physician. The advice and statements above are based on personal experience and have not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration. Any information in this article is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

References and Resources

Aragona S, Mereghetti G, Lotti J, Vosa A, Lotti T, Canavesi E. Electromagnetic field in control tissue regeneration, pelvic pain, neuro-inflammation and modulation of non-neuronal cells. J Biol Regul Homeost Agents. 2017;31(2 Suppl. 2):219-225. [PubMed]

Doctor Oz. "Ask Your Doctor About: Pulsed Electromagnetic Field Therapy." November 16, 2011. Doctor Oz. <https://www.doctoroz.com/article/ask-your-doctor-about-pulsed-electromagnetic-field-therapy>

Ganesan K, Gengadharan A, Balachandran C, Manohar B, Puvanakrishnan R. Low frequency pulsed electromagnetic field–a viable alternative therapy for arthritis. Indian J Exp Biol. 2009;47(12):939-948. [PubMed]

Pawluk, William, MD. "Pulsed Electromagnetic Fields: How They Heal." November 14, 2011. Doctor Oz. <https://www.doctoroz.com/article/pulsed-electromagnetic-fields-how-they-heal>

Pawluk, William, MD. "PEMF Adverse Reactions." Accessed July 2018. <https://www.drpawluk.com/education/pemf-information/adverse-reactions/>

PEMF Devices. "How Safe Are PEMF Devices and What Are Side Effects of PEMF Therapy?" November 26, 2017. <https://pemf-devices.com/side-effects-pemf-therapy-devices/>

PEMF Healing. "PEMF Therapy Side Effects." July 30, 2015. < https://pemfhealing.in/pemf-therapy-side-effects/>

Philipson, Ben. "PEMF or PEMFT Technology." Accessed July 2018. <http://www.pemft.com/Pulsed-Electro-Magnetic-Field-Therapy-or-PEMF-or-PEMFT>

Vavken, Patrick; Arrich, Ferdi; Schuhfried, Othmar; Dorotka, Ronald (2009-05-01). "Effectiveness of pulsed electromagnetic field therapy in the management of osteoarthritis of the knee: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials". Journal of Rehabilitation Medicine. 41 (6): 406–411.

Zorzi C, Dall’Oca C, Cadossi R, Setti S. Effects of pulsed electromagnetic fields on patients’ recovery after arthroscopic surgery: prospective, randomized and double-blind study. Knee Surg Sports Traumatol Arthrosc. 2007;15(7):830-834. [PubMed]

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

Questions & Answers

    © 2018 Christopher Wanamaker


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      • FlourishAnyway profile image


        15 months ago from USA

        I had never heard of this and was interested from start to finish.


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