A first-timer’s guide to using a PEMF device

A first-timer’s guide to using a PEMF device

I had talked to several people who had gotten Pulsed Electromagnetic Field (PEMF) therapy and had an idea of how it worked.

But something this interesting warranted more investigation. You know, up close and personal.

PEMF therapy devices have made astonishing positive impacts on the health of people with varying ailments or conditions.

There happened to be a local chiropractor who was using the technology in his practice. I made an appointment with Ken Toy, DC, at his Temecula, Calif., office so I could get a closer look at his PEMF device.

Recovery mode

Now, the stories I have heard have dealt primarily with college and pro athletes, to help with the recovery from significant and acute injuries. What PEMF does is shoot electromagnetic pulses into an area of your body—any part you wish—that isn’t functioning properly.

The electromagnetic pulses find the injured area, spark the body’s natural activity, and rejuvenate the affected bone or tissue. This speeds up the recovery time and gets athletes back onto the field quicker than they would from traditional rehabilitation.

But the technology isn’t just for athletes. As Toy told me, it has a wide variety of uses for the average Joe and has brought unthinkable recovery to injuries and ailments.

Ken Toy, DC, using a PEMF device in his practice

However, there were no maladies that I was looking to cure when I visited Toy on a Wednesday afternoon. This was a show-me session. Not that I would have been surprised if something cropped up.

After all, I am 50 years old and a failed wannabe athlete. I was so excellent at sports as a teen that I became manager and statistician for the football, basketball, and baseball teams my freshman year in high school. (But I did win the intramural ping-pong championship one year!)

While I did go to a thrilling slow-pitch softball career and a bit of rec league basketball, my athletic endeavors were rather paltry and I didn’t suffer any injuries of note (except to maybe my ego).

Upon arriving at Toy’s office one afternoon, I was taken to a room where there were three PEMF machines. The large machines are like an oversize suitcase and stand about 4 feet tall with three big buttons on the top — blue, green and red (ready, go, and stop). But the magic comes out of the tubes that protrude from the suitcase-like machine. On the large machine, two tubes come out from the source and each tube forms a about a 1-foot circle at the end.

Safety concerns

The one thing that could be scary is the thought of electricity going through your body. Toy calmed those fears by showing me an example of how safe it was. Standing, he took a thick, metal chain and put it on the outside of his right knee, then placed the PEMF tube on the inside of the knee.

The amount of electromagneticity generated caused the chain to spark a little bit, but not in any way that would significantly alarm or injure you.

The noise generated by a PEMF device sounds like a hammer pounding a metal stake into the ground, nothing to calm any nerves, but also nothing to scare you away. Finally, it was time to take the tubes and apply them to areas of my body. After asking me about areas of concern at the beginning of the appointment, and in the spirit of trying out the machine, he decided to place it in six areas: heart, head, shoulder, back, knee, and stomach.

Targeted treatments

Why the heart?

One of the benefits of pulsed therapy is increased energy. What PEMF therapy does is energize the blood cells from your heart, which are then sent out to other parts of your body through natural blood flow. Because this was the first spot the tubes were placed, Toy had me grab the tubes and slowly pull them closer to me so I was in control of applying the technology.

The force of the pulses was akin to someone poking you, just without the impact of a finger touching your body. You feel it and it’s slightly jarring, but it doesn’t hurt.

After a couple minutes on the heart, we shifted to my head. I wasn’t quite clear why it was placed on my head, unless Toy knew something I didn’t about my intelligence. But Toy said the placement can do several things by energizing brain cells, which can help treat anxiety, depression, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and ADHD.

Next was the right shoulder. Now if there was an injured area, I thought this would be it. That shoulder feels a little loose, not in any bad way, but when I do move it about in the same way a quarterback or baseball player might in warming up their throwing arm, it just seems a tad loose. Could be from the endless hours of throwing a tennis ball against the garage door in the driveway as a kid as I dreamt of being a big-league pitcher.

I did feel the electromagnetic pulses in the socket of my shoulder, getting deep into where damaged tissue could possibly be. They simply felt like a dull zap and were not jolting at all. It was actually a very satisfying feeling, knowing the therapy was already going to work.

We moved on to the lower back, an area I was particularly curious about. At times, I have experienced some tightening of the lower back, a combination of age and poor posture while sitting. With the back, Toy placed a towel between the treatment area and the PEMF machine to soften any impact as I sat in a chair.

Again, I could feel the pulses and it was still a very reasonable feeling. You can adjust the thickness of the towel to suit your comfort level. I figured if there was any real injury here, it might take a couple treatments to heal because backs can often be tricky.

From the back, Toy shifted the coil to my stomach. Placing the apparatus here could help with ailments in the liver and intestinal tract, which can help detoxification. Of all the places, this is the one that felt the strangest to me, but maybe that was because the closest I came to six-pack abs was a six-pack of beer.

The pulse of the machine made my gut repeatedly jiggle like a (medium-size) bowl full of jelly. The impact did seem to go deep into the stomach area as it searched for areas of concern.

The last place tested was my right knee. Not aware of any injury here, I was curious as to what would happen. Placed right on the front of the knee, the treatment was relatively calm. I could feel the pulses inside of the knee joint, but there wasn’t injured tissue to find.

The whole treatment can be done without the guidance of a physician, athletic trainer, or physical therapist following proper instruction on how to use the PEMF device. Toy and one of his assistants would tell me when and where to move the apparatus, then leaving the room to attend to other patients and checking back in often.

Practical results

And it doesn’t take long, just 15 to 20 minutes is optimal, regardless of the area and injury. You could easily do it while just sitting and watching TV, laying by the pool, or as part of regular rehab. However, many injuries do require other strength and conditioning exercises in addition to PEMF treatments, which can help speed recovery and get you back in action sooner.

After leaving Toy’s office, I was curious how my body would feel the next day. When I woke up the next morning, I felt a little more energized than usual and my right knee felt a little more refreshed, almost stronger. Even a few days later, all areas that were treated felt good with no side effects.

All in all, it was a terrific experience and one I would recommend to others who are looking to heal an ailment or injury that has hindered them for any length of time. Any apprehension is more than worth the improvement in health.


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