Cervical osteoarthritis, also known as cervical spondylosis, is a condition that most often affects the elderly.
It is a progressive disease that decreases the patients’ range of motion and physical abilities.
This is especially hard on older people who already have trouble moving due to other health conditions, as well.
However, PEMF is able to improve greatly the range of motion in patients suffering from cervical osteoarthritis.
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the disease, its causes and symptoms, and treatment.
We’ll also learn how PEMF can relieve the symptoms of this health condition, and improve patients’ overall quality of life.
Keep reading for lots of useful information.
What is Cervical Osteoarthritis?
Cervical osteoarthritis is a health condition that affects the joints, disks, and bones in the neck.
It is also called spondylosis, and it mostly affects older people above 65 years of age.
All of these changes are caused by the expected effects of aging.
As a person becomes older, the disks in the neck become weaker and break down, lose their fluid, and stiffen.
As a result of these changes, abnormal growths on the bones in this area, called osteophytes, can occur.
These growths can decrease the size of the canal inside the spinal column and cause a condition called spinal stenosis.
The main risk factor, as we have mentioned, is aging.
Cervical osteoarthritis almost never happens in people younger than 50.
With age, the discs between the vertebrae lose their sponginess and stop acting as a cushion.
Thus, the bones and ligaments in the area become thicker, and encroach on the spinal canal area.
Another major factor is an injury to the neck area.
People who do difficult physical jobs are also at risk of injury, as well as gymnasts and other athletes.
Poor posture, something of which most of us are guilty, is a big factor in developing CO, as well.
Cervical osteoarthritis symptoms are the worst in the morning, and usually improve during the day. The most common are:
- Neck pain and stiffness
- A headache that spreads from the neck
- The inability to turn the head fully
- The inability to bend the neck forward or backward
- Grinding sensation or noise when the neck is turned
In cases when cervical osteoarthritis puts pressure on the spinal cord, different symptoms may occur in addition to the initial ones. This condition is called cervical myelopathy, and its main symptoms are:
- Numbness, tingling, and weakness in hands, arms, legs, or feet
- Difficulty walking and lack of coordination
- Muscle spasms
- Abnormal reflexes
Most of the time treatment of cervical osteoarthritis is non-invasive.
However, quite often, the traditional approach is not very successful.
The therapy consists of rest, anti-inflammatory drugs, chiropractic sessions, cervical collar, heat and cold therapy, exercise, and injecting drugs.
In some extreme cases, surgery is necessary, as well.
However, since traditional methods are slow and sometimes inefficient, patients need a new form of treatment.
Luckily, numerous studies show that PEMF is an effective tool against cervical osteoarthritis, and that it can significantly improve the symptoms of this condition.
Let’s learn more about it.
PEMF Therapy and Cervical Osteoarthritis
Cervical osteoarthritis essentially causes the disks between the vertebrae in our neck to dry out, which allows the bones to rub against each other.
This, naturally, causes a lot of pain.
So, can we somehow rehydrate these discs?
Unfortunately, our body cannot do it on its own, since there is no direct supply of blood to the discs.
However, PEMF can help to improve the blood flow in the area and once again lubricate the dehydrated discs.
PEMF can help in many ways, and relieve the symptoms that cervical osteoarthritis patients feel on a daily basis.
The main effects of PEMF on this condition are:
- Reduces pain
- Reduces inflammation
- Reduces nerve pain
- Reduces swelling in the area
- Relaxes the muscles
- Stimulates the regeneration and growth of nerve cells
- Stimulates the RNA that boosts our immune system and that is very important for the healing process
- Reduces muscle spasms
Of course, all of these effects on cervical osteoarthritis were documented during studies, and have been experienced by numerous patients over time.
A Study on PEMF and Cervical Osteoarthritis
In 2006, a study was conducted in Turkey, at the Ankara Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Education and Research Hospital.
The study was led by Sutbeyaz ST, Koseogly BF, and Sezer.
The study had as a goal to examine the effects of PEMF on cervical osteoarthritis (COA). (1)
This was a randomized, double-blind, and placebo-controlled study.
The study examined the effects of PEMF therapy on range of motion, pain, and the functional status of patients.
Thirty-four patients with COA took part in the study.
They were split into two groups – one received real PEMF treatment, and the other received placebo.
All of the patients lay on a full body mat (1.8m x 0.6m) for 30 minutes per session, two times a day, for a total of 3 weeks.
After the therapy the PEMF group reported much less pain, whereas there was no change in the placebo group.
Moreover, after the therapy, the range of motion, paravertebral muscle spasm, disability scale, and neck pain all improved substantially in the PEMF group, but there was no change in the placebo group.
The scientists concluded that the results of this study were encouraging and promising.
PEMF treatment provides therapeutic benefits on its own, but it can be an important adjunct to the already existing therapies for cervical osteoarthritis.
Because PEMF therapy is completely safe and does not carry the risk of any side effects, it can be used for longer than half an hour a day, and over prolonged periods.
In order to achieve the most effectiveness, it is best to use it in the morning, when the symptoms of cervical osteoarthritis are the strongest.
This way, you will feel relief early in the day, and be able to continue with your daily obligations without a problem.
Other Benefits of PEMF Therapy
Cervical osteoarthritis is not the only health condition with which PEMF can help.
Luckily for patients suffering from migraines, depression, pain, diabetes, and many other diseases, PEMF can help here, as well.
Below, you’ll find a summary of the most common science-backed health benefits of PEMF therapy.
PEMF therapy is a safe way of alleviating pain.
Taking painkillers can be effective and, in some urgent cases, it is very important to do so.
However, they are not very useful for chronic pain, because taking them for a prolonged period can do more harm than good.
Researchers at the International Pain Research Institute conducted a study in 1993 that examined what effect PEMF had on pelvic pain caused by gynecological health issues.
The results were encouraging, since 90% of patients reported significantly lower levels of pain. (2)
Improves Blood Flow
PEMF therapy is very good at improving blood flow.
Through vasodilatation, it can allow more blood to reach the part of the body that struggles with poor circulation.
This way, more oxygen and more nutrients reach the area in question, and it experiences significant benefits.
Scientists at Wake Forest University proved this in their study, in which they administered PEMF stimulation to patients with poor circulation.
After a while, the patients’ arteriolar microvessels started to dilate and take in more and more blood. (3)
This health benefit has implications for many other conditions that are caused by poor circulation, such as stroke, heart attack, slow injury healing, and so on.
PEMF Treats Rheumatoid Arthritis
Swelling, pain, and inflammation are symptoms that people suffering from rheumatoid arthritis endure continually.
Unfortunately, painkillers are not safe enough to be taken on a daily basis, so many patients just learn to live with their discomfort.
However, a study conducted and published in India in 1998 showed that PEMF could significantly reduce the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.
After the study was completed, the patients reported substantially lower levels of pain, inflammation, and swelling, which provides evidence that PEMF is a viable form of treatment of RA. (4)
PEMF Treats Depression
The most common ways of treating depression include changes in lifestyle, such as exercising, a healthier diet, psychotherapy, and antidepressants.
The first treatment that those suffering from depression are prescribed is antidepressants.
However, one-third of patients do not respond well to these medications.
Researchers in Denmark found out that when antidepressants were used together with PEMF, the incidence of side effects was much lower, and the positive effects were much higher.
Lowers the Frequency and Intensity of Migraines
In 1999, researchers in the U.S. examined how PEMF could be used in the treatment of migraines.
Human subjects suffering from migraines were selected for the study, and were required to keep a log of their migraine attacks for one month before it.
Then they had to keep another log for one month after the study.
At the one-month follow-up, the two logs were compared.
Patients treated with PEMF experienced significantly fewer migraine attacks of much lower intensity, compared to the placebo group, which did not experience significant improvement. (6)
Treats Nonunion Fractures
Nonunion fractures are fractures that do not heal properly after the first round of treatment.
After that, a patient usually needs to undergo corrective surgery to reconnect the bones once again.
However, this procedure is risky and painful.
That is why, in 1999, researchers in Bangladesh tested how PEMF affected nonunion fractures.
They came to encouraging conclusions.
After 14 weeks of treatment, 11 patients in the study (out of 13) experienced successful healing of their nonunion fractures.
This is a significant result, showing that PEMF could obviate surgery of nonunion fractures. (7)
Helps with Diabetic Polyneuropathy
Diabetic polyneuropathy is a complicated health condition from which diabetic patients sometimes suffer.
It causes pain, numbness, and weakness on both sides of the body, and can significantly reduce quality of life if not treated properly.
However, in 2003, a study was conducted by Neuroscience and Behavioral Physiology that proved PEMF is able to alleviate the symptoms of DPN.
After reducing the symptoms, it also improved the function of the affected nerves. (8)
Promotes Nerve Repair
Patients with sciatica are often reliant on painkillers, anti-inflammatory drugs, or scientifically-untested forms of treatment that they only hope will work.
Often, all they can do is try to live with the pain they feel.
However, a study was conducted in 1993 that proved that PEMF promoted the regeneration of nerve tissue in rats.
Their sciatic nerve was intentionally damaged, and then treated with PEMF therapy.
The rats treated with PEMF showed significant improvement compared to the placebo group. (9)
In sum, PEMF therapy is an important ally for patients suffering from cervical osteoarthritis.
These patients endure symptoms such as stiffness, pain, swelling, muscle spasms, and many more.
However, they do not have to do that anymore.
These symptoms usually occur as a consequence of old age, when the discs between the vertebrae in the neck area do not hold as much fluid as before.
PEMF therapy can rehydrate these discs once again, and prevent the bones from rubbing against each other and causing pain.
Since the symptoms are the most severe in the morning, it is best to use PEMF therapy at that time.
The treatment can be administered for 30 minutes (as was the case in the study we shared), but it can be applied longer, as well.
The best results can be expected if PEMF therapy is used on a daily basis, for a couple of weeks, when the intensity of symptoms should be reduced.
There is no need to endure the pain any longer, since PEMF is a safe form of treatment that anyone can use to improve their overall quality of life.