Pulsed electromagnetic field (PEMF) as an adjunct therapy for pain management in interstitial cystitis/bladder pain syndrome


Introduction and hypothesis: Patients with interstitial cystitis/bladder pain syndrome (IC/BPS) often experience chronic pelvic and even systemic pain that can be difficult to clinically manage. Pulsed electromagnetic field (PEMF) therapy, a non-invasive strategy that has shown significant efficacy for pain reduction in other chronic pain conditions, may provide benefit for pain management in patients with IC/BPS.

Methods: PEMF delivery to patients occurs via a bio-electromagnetic-energy device which consists of a flexible mat (180 × 50 cm) that the patient lies on for systemic, full-body delivery and/or a flexible pad (50 × 15 cm) for targeted delivery to a specific body region (e.g., pelvic area). The duration of individual sessions, number of sessions per day, total number of sessions, and follow-up observation period vary between previously published studies. Positive outcomes are typically reported as a significant reduction in visual analog scale (VAS) pain score and functional improvement assessed using validated questionnaires specific to the condition under study.

Results and conclusions: The use of PEMF has been evaluated as a therapeutic strategy for pain management in several clinical scenarios. Randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled trials have reported positive efficacy and safety profiles when PEMF was used to treat non-specific low back pain, patellofemoral pain syndrome, chronic post-operative pain, osteoarthritis-related pain, rheumatoid arthritis-related pain, and fibromyalgia-related pain. Based on these positive outcomes in a variety of pain conditions, clinical trials to evaluate whether PEMF can provide a safe, non-invasive therapeutic approach to improve symptoms of chronic pain and fatigue in patients with IC/BPS are warranted.


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