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Can Pulsed Electromagnetic Field Therapy Affect Wound Healing In The Diabetic Foot?

A recent study in PLOS One finds that pulsed electromagnetic field (PEMF) therapy can bolster the capacity of energy absorption in diabetic wounds.1

The randomized study focused on 111 diabetic rats with 6 mm full-thickness wounds on their hind limbs.1 There were two PEMF groups with one group receiving daily PEMF at 25 Hz at an intensity of 2 mT and the other group receiving daily PEMF at 10 mT. There was a sham group as well. By day five, researchers noted the group that received 10 mT intensity PEMF had a significantly higher energy absorption capacity and an increase in the maximum load. In addition, the authors say the rats that had 10 mT PEMF had significantly thicker wound tissue overall while the rats that had 2 mT had a significant decrease in the overall maximum stress of the wound tissue.

The authors note that while PEMF can increase energy absorption in the early healing phase, the use of PEMF at both 2 mT and 10 mT during the remodeling phase may impair material properties such as maximum stress and Young’s modulus.1

My colleagues and I are very encouraged by the results of the PEMF study. I think the data over a very long period of time shows that PEMF seems to lead to some sort of physiologic signal. I believe that when put into this kind of form factor, PEMF could be very useful for a physician, surgeon or physical therapist.

I foresee a day when this might be a bit more widespread. I think we need to do more work on PEMF in the diabetic foot to confirm or refute its efficacy. My colleagues and I were part of the early phases of development in a clinical trial on pulsed electromagnetic field therapy more than 10 years ago. To see this come to fruition is really heartening.


1. Choi MC, Cheing AKK, Ng GYF, Cheing GLY. Effects of pulsed electromagnetic field (PEMF) on the tensile biomechanical properties of diabetic wounds at different phases of healing. PLOS One. 2018; 13(1):e0191074.

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