There are dozens of PEMF systems available for use by the consumer – some are intended for daily use, some for use in a clinician’s office; some treat the entire body at once, and some treat only a small portion of the body.
Which of these options is best for the body depends on a variety of factors, not least of which is determining the root of the health concern the patient is facing. Some problems truly are localized in the body, while others are systemic or involve multiple organs or groups of organs.
Treatment outcomes will be largely dependent upon directing the magnetic field therapy to the correct area or areas of the body. Equally as important as identifying the health concern of the patient is determining how to choose and apply the best PEMF system for the situation.
The body is a complex organism, and while it is made up of many moving parts, it is still one interconnected body. It is the philosophy of integrative medical practitioners to treat the whole person, and on the most basic level this means the entire physical body.
In many cases, it is preferable to treat the entire body when using therapeutic magnetic fields, even if what the patient identifies as needing treatment is only a small portion of the body. It is with whole-body stimulation that people tend to get the most benefit in terms of preventative care as well.
Traditional Chinese medicine holds that there are as many as 2,000 acupuncture points on the body. These points are connected by 20 meridians – highways of communication and energy exchange. These meridians are connected to one another, but also to the internal organs, the senses, and the supporting tissues. Treating the entire body at once stimulates all of these acupuncture points and meridians at once, resulting in a more complete therapy.
When you expose any portion of the body to a therapeutic magnetic field, you cause a myriad of chemical, mechanical, electric, and magnetic processes within the body. Exposing the entire body to a therapeutic magnetic field at once only serves to amplify these effects.
It is also sometimes the case that where we identify the problem (usually an ache or pain) is not necessarily where the problem itself originates within the body. Take sciatic pain for example – you may experience the greatest discomfort in the leg, but the issue originates at the base of the spine. So were you to treat only the leg, you may not achieve the best results from your PEMF device. If you treated the entire body, however, you’d be covering all your bases. Full-body PEMF therapy lets us take the guesswork out of knowing where on the body to direct treatment.
Full-body PEMF systems always include a mattress applicator, and usually also include a smaller pillow pad applicator as part of a standard package. The mattress applicators vary dramatically in weight, size, appearance, and portability, but all contain some configuration of copper coils embedded within.
The configuration of these coils is often discussed but likely makes only a small difference, if any, in terms of the treatment your body will receive. Some coils are more tightly wound and evenly spaced across the surface of the mattress, while some are wound concentrically in more of an oval shape. As with any industry, all manufacturers have their own team of researchers and physicists who believe their system is the best system, and coil configuration is one place where PEMF manufacturers tend to have differing opinions. All coils in a PEMF system are made of copper, and all produce a therapeutic magnetic field.
Full-body mats tend to be weaker (producing lower intensity) than their localized counterparts. This is because of the amount of the body that is exposed to the magnetic field. Stimulating the entire body at once will require less energy than stimulating just one part of the body. Because full-body systems nearly always come with a smaller pad applicator, and because these pillow applicators are nearly always stronger than the full-body mat, you have the added bonus of being able to target individual areas of the body with a stronger stimulation. So purchasing a full-body system really gives the patient the best of both worlds in terms of being able to treat the whole body and also treat locally.
Despite the benefits of whole-body treatment, there are people with a very obvious health concern – a broken bone, arthritis of a joint, migraine headaches, etc. In these instances, it is not uncommon for the person to prefer to treat the area directly. In these cases it may be more practical to simply treat the area of their body that is identify as needing therapy.
When using a localized PEMF device, often the biggest challenge is knowing where to direct the magnetic field. This is easy in the case of an obvious injury like a broken bone, but more difficult when dealing with a systemic or complex health concern.
Localized PEMF devices have all the same components of many of the full-body systems on the market – they just tend to come in a smaller package with a smaller applicator. In some circumstances, a localized PEMF device is battery-powered, making it convenient to use while on the go. There are large PEMF devices that are still intended for local use – these tend to be installed in doctor’s offices or hospitals and used for intensive treatments, often in wound care clinics.
Whether working with a whole-body system or a localized unit, the actual treatment process is virtually the same – you power your unit on and apply the magnetic field to the body. This means you will either lay down on a mat (in the case of a full-body unit) or strap the applicator to a chosen body part (as is often the case with portable devices). The average treatment time is about 30 minutes, twice per day.