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Osteoarthritis Cartilage. 2005 Jul;13(7):575-81.

Treatment of knee osteoarthritis with pulsed electromagnetic fields: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study.

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  • 1Department of Geriatri and Rheumatology, Glostrup Hospital, 2600 Glostrup, Denmark.



The investigation aimed at determining the effectiveness of pulsed electromagnetic fields (PEMF) in the treatment of osteoarthritis (OA) of the knee by conducting a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial.


The trial consisted of 2h daily treatment 5 days per week for 6 weeks in 83 patients with knee OA. Patient evaluations were done at baseline and after 2 and 6 weeks of treatment. A follow-up evaluation was done 6 weeks after treatment. Activities of daily living (ADL), pain and stiffness were evaluated using the Western Ontario and McMaster Universities (WOMAC) questionnaire.


Within group analysis revealed a significant improvement in ADL, stiffness and pain in the PEMF-treated group at all evaluations. In the control group there was no effect on ADL after 2 weeks and a weak significance was seen after 6 and 12 weeks. Significant effects were seen on pain at all evaluations and on stiffness after 6 and 12 weeks. Between group analysis did not reveal significant improvements over time. Analysis of ADL score for the PEMF-treated group revealed a significant correlation between less improvement and increasing age. Analysis of patients <65 years using between group analysis revealed a significant improvement for stiffness on treated knee after 2 weeks, but this effect was not observed for ADL and pain.


Applying between group analysis we were unable to demonstrate a beneficial symptomatic effect of PEMF in the treatment of knee OA in all patients. However, in patients <65 years of age there is significant and beneficial effect of treatment related to stiffness.

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