The complete guide to clinical PEMF therapy

Because chiropractic is at heart a philosophy of healing, it has a long had a connection with the ideas about electricity, a “life-force,” and healing energy.

Often as not, all three ideas are comingled as is the case with pulsed electromagnetic field (PEMF) therapy. This modality has a fairly extensive history and it has been studied and tested in well-controlled clinical trials. Furthermore, numerous peer-reviewed journal articles have reported on it favorably.

PEMF therapy is, in many ways, a cutting-edge modality. And though you can code for treatments for certain conditions, doctors in the field are exploring new uses of it and making discoveries in daily practice.

As with any modality, educate yourself on it is critical to understand if it's right for your practice. 


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The History of PEMF

PEMF is a means for improved health began in the late 1800s when the great innovator Nikola Tesla discovered that it was harmless to pass electrical current through the human body—thus the reason magnetic field strength is measured in Tesla (T). Tesla also found that this was completely possible without making contact.

These early devices were much more rudimentary than those available today, they “were often large round solenoid coils of wire that would surround the patient while they would stand or lie on a bed.” 

The most obvious benefit is that this process is that the user “feels’ the pulse, as well as its noninvasive, which means no surgery, and it also doesn’t involve taking drugs which often have unintended negative consequences. But it also effectively helps individuals overcome their pain, and research confirms it.

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What is PEMF?

PEMF is used to positively impact energy within damaged or injured cell. It does this by directing repeating electromagnetic pulses toward the affected cells, stimulating a healthier response.

The way PEMF works is simple. A device which emits these electromagnetic pulses through a coil applicator. This applicator is placed on or near the area which is injured or somehow damaged. Energy is then induced from the device to the impacted cells, thus providing the patient with a number of different benefits.

Perhaps the easiest way to understand PEMF is to think in terms of each cell in your body as if it were a little battery. Like with any battery, sometimes your cells become tired and worn, whether due to age, stress, overuse, or damage, making it more difficult for them to fight off any type of potentially damaging force or illness.

What does PEMF treat?

Theoretically, wounds, bone fractures, any area of chronic injury and pain can be a viable target for PEMF therapy.

But there are additional areas where it can be considered appropriate. But PEMF shouldn’t be thought of as “treating” conditions, but rather as a modality that “optimizes the self-healing environment.”

The majority of evidence for PEMF and its primary FDA clearances are for osteogenesis, or non-invasive bone growth and repair. In 2011, the FDA also cleared PEMF for treating depres- sion in patients who fail to respond to pharmacological therapy.

“We’ve found that genetic disorders don’t respond to treatment,” Silver says. “But we might see pain reduction. Partial ligament tears and cartilage and muscle respond very well to the machine. We build and strengthen the muscle with magnetic induction and heal it with pulsed electromagnetic field therapy.”

What Silver refers to here is that at higher intensity levels, patients can feel a pulsing sensation and muscular twitching. The effect is moderate, however, and not painful at all. But given this amount of energy, PEMF will interact with pacemakers and cannot be used with patients who have them.

Marketing PEMF

For patients interested in trying PEMF, one common question is how it will make them feel.

Users of PEMF can actually feel the magnetic wave of energy entering their body; it seeks out or finds areas of the body with previous injury or issue and the user can feel this entire process.

One of the best ways to increase results of getting the word out at your clinic in terms of retaining patients with the PEMF therapy and, more than anything, turning it into a profit center, is the art of the demo.

Typically, what you want you to do is when you get your machine, you don’t want to start advertising in terms of getting on the radio, getting on television, placing ads on the internet. Instead just simply introduce the machine to every single patient that’s already there. You can put up a sign and say I'm going to be giving complimentary sessions this week. Once they've felt the results of PEMF therapy on their pain points, the therapy practically sells itself.