Pulsed electromagnetic field therapy decreases wound pain in new study

Paul Basilio, MDLinx | December 20, 2017

Italian researchers recently performed a randomized, prospective pilot study to test the effectiveness of pulsed electromagnetic fields (PEF) in chronic lower limb ulcers. The results were published in the journal Wound Medicine.

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There is strong statistical evidence that PEF therapy is effective in the treatment of postoperative and nonpostoperative pain and edema.

They used a wearable device that has an imbedded microchip and battery which deliver a local dosage of energy from a low-power PEF.

Twenty patients were enrolled in the 4-week study. Participants were excluded if they were currently receiving chemotherapy, if the wound had an active infection or was due to malignancy, or if the ulcers were present for less than 3 months.

In the control group, five patients had chronic skin ulcers of arterial etiology, four had wounds due to venous insufficiency, and one had a wound related to diabetes. The average time since onset of the wound was 12.8 months. In the experimental group, three patients had arterial ulcers, four had venous ulcers, and three had ulcers due to trauma. Average time since onset was 22.2 months.

Patients in both groups underwent weekly follow-up visits. Standard treatment at these visits included wound disinfection, debridement if necessary, application of a dressing cream, and bandaging. The cream contained hyaluronic acid sodium and collagenase.

Images of the wounds were obtained at each visit, and wound area was calculated using computer-assisted planimetry. Pain relief was measured via an 11-point numeric rating scale (NRS-11).

Results showed a wound healing rate of 0.15 cm2/day in the control group and 0.09 cm2/day in the experimental group. However, pain scores in the experimental group were significantly lower than in the control group. Mean NRS-11 scores in the experimental group decreased from 7.2 to 2.8 in the experimental group, compared with 6.3 to 5.4 in the controls. No other significant results were found.

The authors noted that the tested device had a low field of energy, which may explain the lack of significant results related to wound healing.

“There is strong statistical evidence that PEF therapy is effective in the treatment of postoperative and nonpostoperative pain and edema,” the authors wrote. “Indeed, our data corroborated this, showing significant pain relief in the experimental group.”

To read more about this study, click here

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