This study examined whether a non-thermal, non-invasive, pulsed electromagnetic field (PEMF), known to modulate the calmodulin (CaM)-dependent nitric oxide (NO)/cyclic guanosine monophosphate (cGMP) signaling pathway, could reduce pain in early knee OA. This randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind pilot clinical study enrolled 34 patients. Patient selection required initial VAS ≥4, 2 h of standing activity per day, and no recent interventions such as cortisone injections or surgery. Results showed VAS pain score decreased in the active cohort by 50 ± 11% versus baseline starting at day 1 and persisting to day 42 (P < 0.001). There was no significant decrease in VAS versus baseline at any time point in the sham cohort (P = 0.227). The overall decrease in mean VAS score for the active cohort was nearly threefold that of the sham cohort (P < 0.001). The results suggest that non-thermal, non-invasive PEMF therapy can have a significant and rapid impact on pain from early knee OA and that larger clinical trials are warranted.
Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Henry Ford Hospital, CFP 644, 2799 West Grand Blvd., Detroit, MI 48202