Effect of pulsed electromagnetic field therapy on experimental pain : a double-blind, randomized study in healthy young adults
Beaulieu, Karen; Béland, Patricia; Pinard, Marilee; Handfield, Guilène; Handfield, Nicole; Goffaux, Philippe; Corriveau, Hélène; Léonard, Guillaume
Université de Sherbrooke. École de réadaptation
Centre et services de conditionnements cellulaires
Centre hospitalier universitaire de Sherbrooke. Centre de recherche
Institut universitaire de gériatrie de Sherbrooke. Centre de recherche sur le vieillissement
SubjectPulsed electromagnetic field therapy
Abstract : Past studies have suggested that pulsed electromagnetic field (PEMF) therapy can decrease pain. To date, however, it remains difficult to determine if the analgesic effect observed in patients are attributable to a direct effect of PEMF on pain or to an indirect effect of PEMF on inflammation and healing. In the present study, we used an experimental pain paradigm to evaluate the direct effect of PEMF on pain intensity, pain unpleasantness and temporal summation of pain. Twenty-four healthy subjects (mean age 22 ± 2 years; 9 males) participated in the experiment. Both real and sham PEMF were administered to every participant using a randomized, double-blind, cross-over design. For each visit, PEMF was applied for 10 minutes on the right forearm using a portable device. Experimental pain was evoked before (baseline) and after PEMF with a 9 cm2 Pelletier type thermode, applied on the right forearm (120 sec stimulation; temperature individually adjusted to produce moderate baseline pain). Pain intensity and unpleasantness were evaluated using a 0-100 numerical pain rating scale. Temporal summation was evaluated by comparing pain intensity ratings obtained at the end of tonic nociceptive stimulation (120 sec) with pain intensity ratings obtained after 60 sec of stimulation. When compared to baseline, there was no change in pain intensity and unpleasantness following the application of real or sham PEMF. PEMF did not affect temporal summation. The present observations suggest that PEMF does not directly influence heat pain perception in healthy individuals.