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The role of PEMF in the management of joint pain

Written by

Deborah Freudenmann BHSc

Have you noticed that opening a jar has become increasingly difficult because of pain in your hands, or climbing stairs or walking longer distances results in painful knees? The most common thought which comes to mind is “arthritis”.

The two most common forms of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis which can both cause similar pains and aches throughout the body.

In this article we will discuss osteoarthritis! Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis that affects about 32.5 million people in the United States.

What is osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis is a common bone condition usually affecting patients above 45 years of age. It is a degenerative joint disorder caused due to chronic inflammation or age-related “wear and tear” of the tissues of the joints. It usually affects the joints in the hips, knees, spine and hands.

Osteoarthritis is known to cause pain in the joints along with stiffness, swelling, and restricted mobility. In severe cases, the pain caused due to osteoarthritis is so severe that it begins to interfere with the routine activities of the patients. It is the most common form of arthritis that you may develop.

The pathogenesis of osteoarthritis involves the breakdown of the cartilage in the joints due to which the underlying bone tissues are exposed. These changes occur gradually over several years becoming worse over time.

Symptoms of osteoarthritis

While osteoarthritis may occur in any of your joints, the most common areas it may affect include your knees, hips, spines and hands. Major symptoms of osteoarthritis may include:

  • Pain and aching
  • Stiffness
  • Tenderness and discomfort
  • Swelling
  • Decreased movement and flexibility
  • Inflammation

 

Over time as osteoarthritis progresses, the pain becomes more intense. Symptoms of osteoarthritis may overlap with rheumatoid arthritis or other joint inflammation. So, it is important to monitor if your joints do become heavily inflamed.

Underlying causes

  • Age: The risk of osteoarthritis increases with age.

  • Gender: The incidence of osteoarthritis is higher in men before age 45 and higher in women after the age of 45.

  • Eating inflammatory foods: eating inflammatory foods such as refined sugar, refined oils and carbohydrates, artificial ingredients, conventional and processed animal products, junk food, processed foods and food sensitivities can increase inflammation as well as overall osteoarthritic symptoms.

  • Repetitive stress, joint injury, and trauma: Joint injuries and the overuse of the joints as a result of repetitive stress and knee bending could cause damage to these tissues and trigger the development of osteoarthritis.

  • Obesity: Obesity can increase the risk of osteoarthritis as the extra weight exerts more pressure on the joints, particularly on the weight-bearing joints including the hips and knees.

  • Blood sugar imbalances: insulin resistance, obesity and/or blood sugar fluctuations can also result in increased inflammation and joint inflammation.

  • Dysbiosis and intestinal permeability: wouldn’t be a functional medicine blog without gut health listed as a cause? Gut dysbiosis and intestinal permeability causes low-grade systemic inflammation that can increase the risk or symptoms of osteoarthritis, including pain, swelling, inflammation, and compromised or restricted mobility. Addressing these two gut issues, recreating a gut microbiome homeostasis, and improving your gut health may reduce your symptoms and reduce your risk of osteoarthritis.

  • Nutritional deficiencies: certain nutritional deficiencies can worsen the progression or development of joint issues.

  • Low bone density: The risk of osteoarthritis is higher in patients with osteoporosis, a condition caused due to the reduced bone density.

  • Chronic stress and poor sleep: these two lifestyle factors increase systemic inflammation and affect your overall health. In addition, joint inflammation and pain can worsen your stress and sleep quality.

  • Environmental toxin exposure: including air pollution, tap water, conventional products, plastics, heavy metals and so forth take a serious toll on the body. With one of the biggest impacts being increased inflammation which can target joints directly.

  • Chronic infections: EBV, Lyme disease and other oral infections cause inflammation.

The role of PEMF therapy in the treatment of joint pain

PEMF (Pulsed Electro-Magnetic Field) therapy refers to an advanced form of treatment that is aimed at supporting the natural magnetic fields in the body. PEMF offers a non-invasive form of magnetic healing that has the potential to boost the body’s healing processes. It basically a battery charger for your body. PEMF therapy introduces a magnetic charge into your damaged cells to increase blood flow, reduce inflammation, reduce pain, improve cellular and tissue healing, re-establish healthy cell interaction, and increase energy. Healthy cells are crucial as a good foundation for your organs and tissues and systems to work properly.

How PEMF therapy can relieve joint pain

Pulsed electromagnetic field therapy offers many health benefits. PEMF therapy directly treats joint pain in several ways:

  • Increases cellular growth
  • Stimulates extracellular matrix production
  • Inhibits inflammation
  • Improved immune response
  • Improved circulation and oxygenation
  • Reduces swelling
  • Improved pain management
  • Increased mobility and range of motion
  • Increases cellular communication
  • Increases joint capsule cells
  • Supports lubrication, regeneration and repair


Let us have a look at the different mechanisms through which PEMF therapy can help improve the prognosis of “joint pain”.

Increases cell growth

The magnetic energy released by the PEMF devices can create waves that work around the body’s natural magnetic fields thus influencing the movements of ions and electrolytes. 

This would result in a change in the electrical charge at the cellular level thus restoring normal cellular metabolism. 

It would also promote cell growth allowing for the regeneration of new healthy cells to occur at the ends of the joints affected due to the wear and tear. 

These benefits of PEMF therapy would heal the damaged tissues of the joints and synovium, thereby reducing pain and improving mobility.

Extracellular matrix production

PEMF therapy would also stimulate the production of extracellular matrix in the joint tissues. It would support the production of collagen that can strengthen the joints and enable frictionless and hence, pain-free movements.

Inhibits inflammation

PEMFs modulate inflammation. They regulate pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokine secretion to support a healthy and balanced inflammatory response. Cytokines are proteins that can either suppress or activate inflammation. With the reduction of inflammation, pain is also reduced.

Increases cellular communication

PEMF therapy helps injured tissues recover and increases cell communication. This type of therapy helps cells get the nutrients they need to produce energy. This means PEMFs enhance production of ATP, the body’s cellular fuel. When cells are healthier and they have healthier cell membranes they can also detox better to remove all the toxic substances building up inside them.

Increases joint capsule cells

The cellular growth stimulated by the PEMF therapy would increase the strength of the joint capsule and the number of joint capsule cells making the tissues more resistant to wear and tear and degenerative changes.

Supports lubrication, repair, and regeneration

The pulses released by the PEMF devices can stimulate the cells and tissues. This would improve the blood flow, restore the normal chemical balance in the cells, and encourage natural healing mechanisms in the damaged tissues of the bones and synovium. PEMF therapy would enhance the body’s natural ability to repair the damaged tissue, thus reducing pain and swelling and improving prognosis.

What Other Natural Interventions May Benefit Osteoarthritis?

Supplementation

  • Glucosamine: helps provide cartilage the flexibility it needs to function. Glucosamine has been shown to reduce the severity of osteoarthritis symptoms.
  • Essential fatty acids. Omega-3 and certain omega-6 fatty acids are recommended as they can reduce inflammation and improve cardiovascular health.
  • Chondroitin: has been found in connective tissue and helps to lubricate the cartilage.
  • S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe). SAMe may stimulate the production of cartilage, leading to reduced pain and stiffness in patients with osteoarthritis.
  • Proteolytic enzymes. Various proteolytic enzymes, including bromelain, have been shown to reduce pain and increase functionality in osteoarthritis.
  • Boswellia serrata. The anti-inflammatory extract of the Boswellia sacra tree can improve joint flexion, reduce swelling, and prevent cartilage degradation in arthritic patients.
  • Collagen: as the gradual destruction of joint cartilage exposes collagen, causing an immune response and inflammatory attack on the joint. Supplementation with collagen may help reduce this inflammation and induce tolerance.
  • Probiotics: to help support microbiome balance and any gut inflammation present.
  • Other anti-inflammatory options are omega-3 fatty acids, quercetin, curcumin, ginger, vitamin D, and green tea, among others.

Anti-inflammatory diet

Eating an inflammatory diet can contribute to the development and symptoms of osteoarthritis while eating an anti-inflammatory and nutrient-rich diet can help. There is no one size fits all approach to diet. However, a few general guides for an anti-inflammatory diet are eliminating all refined sugars, refined oils and processed meats and dairy products, eliminating artificial ingredients, processed foods and junk food. Instead including anti-inflammatory foods such as vegetables, greens, fruits, herbs, spices, nuts and seeds, organic or grass feed meats etc.

Supported detoxification

Detoxification of heavy metals and other toxins is heavily supported by PEMF therapy. You can include a detoxification formula to help support all detoxication organs, help bind the released toxins and support your body’s ability to eliminate them. Click here for more information.

Regular movement

Start your day with some movement whether it’s stretching, a few yoga moves, a short walk outside or a trampoline workout! Often times we sit for way too many hours in a day which can aggravate or worsen osteoarthritis. Therefore, the goal is to get up from your desk or a chair every now and again to move your body. Make sure you listen to yourself and not overdo it!

Improved sleep and reduced stress

Stress and poor sleep can contribute to chronic inflammation and symptoms of osteoarthritis. To reduce stress, you need to find out what works for you, some suggestions include: meditation, breathwork, muscle relaxation strategies, gratitude, journaling and prayer. Prioritising sleep is important to ensure you get between 6-8 hours a night. Create an evening routine to follow for a more regular sleep schedule. Avoid electronics (phone, TV etc.) before bed, limit caffeine, alcohol and anything “stressful” close to bedtime.

Conclusion

Osteoarthritis is a complex condition; however, you don’t always need to experience the debilitating symptoms. You can take control of your health and initiate steps to regenerate and heal your joints with natural strategies, diet and lifestyle changes as well as PEMF therapy.

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