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Pain Research and Management
Volume 12, Issue 4, Pages 249-258
Original Article

A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Clinical Trial Using a Low-Frequency Magnetic Field in the Treatment of Musculoskeletal Chronic Pain

Alex W Thomas,1 Karissa Graham,1 Frank S Prato,1 Julia McKay,1 Patricia Morley Forster,2 Dwight E Moulin,3 and Sesh Chari4

1Bioelectromagnetics, Imaging Program, Lawson Health Research Institute, Department of Medical Biophysics, Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry, University of Western Ontario, Department of Nuclear Medicine, Canada
2Department of Anesthesiology, St Joseph’s Hospital, Canada
3Interdisciplinary Pain Program, University of Western Ontario, London, Canada
4Fralex Therapeutics Inc, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Copyright © 2007 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Exposure to a specific pulsed electromagnetic field (PEMF) has been shown to produce analgesic (antinociceptive) effects in many organisms. In a randomized, double-blind, sham-controlled clinical trial, patients with either chronic generalized pain from fibromyalgia (FM) or chronic localized musculoskeletal or inflammatory pain were exposed to a PEMF (400 μT) through a portable device fitted to their head during twice-daily 40 min treatments over seven days. The effect of this PEMF on pain reduction was recorded using a visual analogue scale. A differential effect of PEMF over sham treatment was noticed in patients with FM, which approached statistical significance (P=0.06) despite low numbers (n=17); this effect was not evident in those without FM (P=0.93; n=15). PEMF may be a novel, safe and effective therapeutic tool for use in at least certain subsets of patients with chronic, nonmalignant pain. Clearly, however, a larger randomized, double-blind clinical trial with just FM patients is warranted.