One of the most common questions people have before starting PEMF therapy is about how quickly they will see results. The answer, of course, is dependent on a variety of factors. That being said, we can usually help people manage their expectations and make an estimate as to when they may be able to expect some improvement.
Determining when a person will feel better begins with understanding how PEMF therapy works when applied to various health conditions, and understanding the overall health of the person being treated.
Some health problems respond more readily to higher intensities, and some to lower intensities. Some problems require a broad range of frequencies, while others do better with a minimal number of frequencies, or a single frequency. Device selection, then, is exceptionally important to achieving the best results from your system. That being said, every magnetic system will produce benefit to an extent. The right magnetic system for individual circumstances though, will tend to produce results more quickly. Often, people make purchasing decisions based on affordability, so the right PEMF system may not be available to them. In this case, it will likely take longer for benefit to be achieved. Patience will be required in these circumstances.
Everybody is different and every body is different. Many people experience tremendous results within the first week or two of using their system. For some people, results come more slowly, and we can react to that by fine-tuning the treatment protocol. The body takes time to heal once it is given the appropriate signal or stimulus. A fracture, for example, will take 8 to 12 weeks to heal to a point where the bone can be used. This does not mean the healing process is complete, but just that the body part is usable once again. Magnetic therapies can speed the healing rate, but they cannot work miracles. Illness is rarely, if ever, an instantaneous happening—the same is true of healing. We did not get to our current health state overnight, and we are unlikely to heal overnight.
Having proper expectations is important in the use of PEMF therapies. If you are depressed or anxious, for example, small health improvements may seem inadequate. To set realistic expectations, we must first understand the nature of the problem, the depth of the damage or dysfunction, the types of tissues involved and their respective regeneration potential, and the age of the person.
The body is constantly regenerating itself – we become completely new bodies about every seven years. Various tissues have various repair and regeneration cycles. The cornea of the eye, for example, regenerates every 24 hours. Intestinal cells can repair within 72 hours. Skin and muscle cells may repair in 2 to 3 weeks. Bone can take up to 7 years to fully repair. Some tissues do not repair well, if they repair at all. These tissues (ligaments, tendons, nerves, spinal discs, and brain cells) generally don’t have a great blood supply in addition to a low regenerative capacity. Many of the problems PEMFs are used to address involve musculoskeletal tissues, and therefore can be stubborn to treat. We cannot push the tissue to regenerate beyond its optimal capacity.
Truly acknowledging of the damage present in your body is a critical piece to solving the healing timeline puzzle. Gauging a specific tissue’s degree of involvement in the given health concern is important in understanding the amount of time it will take that tissue to heal. Problems in the body have degrees of involvement and different tissues are involved in any given injury. The degree of involvement can be considered in terms of layers or levels: the energetic level, the physiologic level, the pathophysiological level, and the pathologic level.
Most health problems have at least the energetic and the physiologic levels involved. When there is any damage to tissue or cell injury, there will almost always be some degree of pathologic involvement. When there is pathology, most of the time the tissue or cells are irreversibly damaged; the goal of treatment would be to repair and regenerate as much of the tissue surrounding the area of irreversible damage as possible. The body does most of the repair and regeneration using its own innate programs. PEMF therapies help the body to repair and regenerate better and can accelerate the process, often by as much as twofold.
Treatments directed at problems in the energetic level produce much more dramatic and rapid results. For physiologic-level problems, treatments are more likely to produce noticeable responses after several days. Once there is some level of pathology (such as in the pathophysiologic level, like most chronic issues) the effects of treatments usually take longer to become noticeable—sometimes up to a few weeks. Once a health issue has reached the pathologic level, treatment outcomes are unpredictable. Results may take months to years, if they ever come. True and complete organ death is unlikely to be reversible with magnetic fields. We call this the “Lazarus effect” and it is very unlikely.
Once you know the probable level of damage within the body, it is easier to predict how long it may take for therapies to produce noticeable results. Treatments may be directed at a particular problem of interest, but improvement is sometimes seen in other places, based on the involved layers of tissue. The level and extent of the problem seems to be more important than the strength of the magnetic field, or the frequencies used, or the treatment times. Optimizing these variables should shorten the process.
The body has its own wisdom, and will respond to treatment in the layers and levels that make the most sense. We must respect these layers of healing and work positively with them. Patience and acceptance of this natural order will only aid in the healing process.
For tissues that do not have the capacity for regeneration, PEMFs are valuable in reducing pain, reducing swelling, improving circulation, and stimulating whatever regeneration may be possible.
There are some health problems that cannot be corrected with PEMF therapy alone. One common example is with bone-on-bone arthritis in the knee or hip. In this circumstance, the damage is so extensive and so many tissues are involved that a joint replacement is often inevitable. Even in this situation, however, PEMF therapies can make a huge difference one way or another. If the magnetic therapy is not controlling the pain of the condition, it can assist the tissues to be as healthy as possible prior to having the joint replacement. After the surgery, the recovery time is expected to be shorter with the help of magnetic field therapy, and with a decreased risk of complications. In addition, some research and feedback from patients indicates that the prosthesis integrates better with the bone, making the new joint feel stronger. This osteointegration may also decrease the likelihood for future breakdown.
Infrequently, we experience individuals who are extraordinarily sensitive to magnetic fields, and experience increased discomfort or other unpleasant symptoms. In these cases, PEMF therapy must be used “low and slow,” meaning with a low intensity, and short treatment times. In these cases, benefits may be more difficult to achieve because the appropriate and necessary intensities are not possible. Still, results can be dramatic. Most of these individuals need to be on a significant supplement and nutrition program to achieve the best results.
PEMFs can open cells and cell membranes to the point of unloading toxins stored in the tissues of the body. This type of response is, in the long-run, a desirable action. However, it may be unpleasant while it is going on. The length of the detoxification will vary from patient to patient. Rarely will PEMF therapy have to be stopped. Those individuals with multiple chemical sensitivities may find magnetic field therapy intolerable until such time as the major detoxification can be achieved.
Research in the pain management program at Hopkins found that some individuals with chronic pain have personality traits that result in very poor treatment outcomes. These individuals often experience negative reactions even to placebo magnetic fields. When these patients are followed over time, some complain that their problems have been made worse by the (placebo) treatments. In these situations, it is not possible to please, and therefore PEMF therapy is not an appropriate treatment modality.
Since many health problems for which PEMFs are being used are stubborn and chronic, it may take up to 6 months to achieve desirable results. If the treatment program is too gentle, or there is an inadequate amount of time spent on the system, results may not be seen in the first few months.