Magnotherapy (or magnetotherapy) is a form of physiotherapy that uses electromagnetic energy — specifically low-frequency pulsed magnetic fields at low intensity.
Magnetotherapy promotes tissue regeneration and stimulates natural organic defences. It is believed magnotherapy produces its therapeutic effects by re-establishing order in a sector that is presumably in magnetic disorder.
Cell membranes are basically minuscule batteries, and the electrical voltage they supply can be measured. When these cells become ill — due to infection, trauma, or any other reason — they lose their energy reserve. A healthy cell should have a voltage of 70 millivolts, whereas an ill cell measures only 50 to 55 millivolts. When the cell’s voltage drops below 30 millivolts, it leads to necrosis — the death of the cell.
As the energy inside cells starts to decline, the body feels the consequences in the form of inflammatory processes and bone and joint pains, backache or wounds that fail to heal. The purpose of magnetotherapy is, therefore, to recharge and regenerate cells lacking in vital energy.
Magnetotherapy acts on bone tissues, lymphatic tissues and muscles, accelerating trophism and promoting the rehabilitation process. For treating phlogistic (inflammatory), traumatic and degenerative pathologies of the osteoarticular and musculotendinous apparatus, magnetotherapy can offer a first-rate therapeutic methodology. Pulsed magnetic field applications (PEMF) improve osteogenesis (the formation of bone) in these structures — favouring the increase in vascular supply (hyper-vascularisation) and an increase in bone resistance. PEMF also lowers the risk of blood clots (thrombus).
However, pathologies of the musculoskeletal apparatus are the most specific field of application of magnetotherapy, and post-traumatic pathologies respond particularly well to this type of treatment. From minor sprains to serious fractures, all traumatic events can benefit from this therapy, with recovery times that are often surprising. Even bone pathologies treated with magnetotherapy have shown faster repair processes and shorter recovery times.
Magnotherapy also has beneficial effects on the central-peripheral nervous system (including the brain and spinal cord) and inflammations, promoting:
- An increase in ion exchanges at the level of the cell membrane.
- Stabilisation of the membrane.
- Hyper-polarisation linked with the effect on the sodium-potassium pump and ion exchanges.
- Normalisation of electrical conductivity.
- Antalgic effects (relieving pain or reducing drug dependency).
- An increase in individual mental and physical performance.
- Neuroregulatory effects on the brain, reticular formation, hypothalamus, adrenal gland, liver and spleen.
- An anti-edemigenous effect.
- The effect on the sodium-potassium pump.
- The modification of membrane permeability.
- Bacteriostatic activity.
- The resolution of muscle spasm.
- Analgesic action.
- Acceleration of soft tissue healing processes.
- Normalisation of the voltage difference between the injured region of the cell membrane and the normal region (there is a voltage imbalance in many pathologies).
Mechanism of action
Lactic acid, which triggers nerve receptors, is a common cause of pain which can be degraded through lactate dehydrogenase. In exposed muscles, magnotherapy has been found to increase the activity of lactate dehydrogenase.
Magnetotherapy can also create an analgesic effect by sending an electric current through the nerve fibres to stop pain signals from passing through the spinal cord to the brain centres.
Pain is suppressed as a result of this and other mechanisms. These other mechanisms include the suppression of inflammation and swelling, as well as a healing and regenerative effect. Myorelaxation, or relaxation of the muscle, plays its part too. The increased secretion of endorphins and passage of electric current through cell membranes also contributes to vasodilatation and a detoxification effect.
Magnotherapy works against erythrocyte rouleaux (the stacking of red blood cells, which transfer oxygen in the blood). Suitable pulse magnetic fields can improve the blood’s ability to become oxygenated and subsequently transfer this oxygen to tissues.
Using low-frequency pulses activates parasympathetic nerves and refluxes Ca2+ ions, resulting in the dilation of the blood stream and subsequent vasodilation and improvement of microcirculation. This, in turn, helps to remove toxins and metabolites from tissues faster.
Vasodilation can help:
- With problems such as limb ischemia.
- Improve oxygen supply with conditions such as diabetic foot syndrome.
- Improve metabolic turnover with polyneuropathy.
- Stabilise blood pressure.
Detoxification (cleansing) effect
Magnotherapy can be used to effectively target internal inflammation because of the way it passes evenly through tissue. By sending a weak electric current through the cells, magnetotherapy can improve metabolism, blood supply and cell oxygenation — all of which are vital for cleansing the body.
Pulsed magnetic fields can also be used to treat water and improve its ability to bind oxygen molecules. This process also makes the water softer, allowing the liquid to better dissolve and eliminate metabolic waste. This magnetised liquid can then be consumed to encourage adequate hydration for healthy liver activity, which is crucial for detoxification.
This detoxification effect can:
- Suppress complications from conditions such as mononucleosis.
- Promote liver regeneration.
- Help with migraines.
- Create an anti-oedematous (anti-swelling) effect.
- Counteract blood stream insufficiency.
Swelling occurs when there are blood stream insufficiencies and liquid accumulates between cells. Magnotherapy works against the main causes of swelling, such as high blood pressure in the capillaries (the smallest vessels in the human body), the impaired transfer of water from tissues and a possible increase of the permeability of capillary walls.
Magnotherapy treatment combines vasodilation and regeneration to achieve an anti-swelling effect and encourage healing.
Through the anti-swelling effect, magnetotherapy can:
- Help to remove metabolic waste.
- Counteract blood stream insufficiencies.
- Reduce inflammation.
- Relieve pain and swelling from nerve compression.
Myorelaxing (spasm relaxing) effect
Painful irritation in muscles and areas of chronic inflammation are typically the result of acidic metabolites. Magnotherapy helps these metabolites flow through tissues (perfusion) faster to increase lactate dehydrogenase activity, thus starting the process of eliminating lactic acid. As a result, muscle spasms are greatly reduced. Application can also lower radicular irritation, which often causes a tingling sensation and pulsing or burning pain.
Another way magnetotherapy supresses pain is by altering reflex changes in the body, which helps muscle spasms to relax and provides further pain relief.
Through the myorelaxing effect, magnetotherapy can:
- Improve mobility.
- Enhance rehabilitation exercise.
- Eliminate acidic metabolites.
- Create a healing and regenerative effect.
Healing and regenerative effect
Magnotherapy significantly accelerates healing and activates the production of new tissue and calcification. This form of treatment also sees considerable acceleration in the healing of damaged peripheral nerves, regeneration of neurofibrils and growth of central axons (fibres coming from cells).
When utilising the regenerative effect on bones, the application results in increased osteoclast activation and a subsequent launch of the regenerative process of bone tissue. Better blood perfusion and higher oxygen saturation also promotes faster healing of inflammation in all tissues, whilst potentiating the effects of antibiotic treatment.
Magnotherapy’s healing and regenerative effect on bones and soft tissues is the result of non-specific cytoplasmic membrane irritation.
With the healing and regenerative effect, magnotherapy can:
- Decelerate further damage.
- Improve mobility in patients.
- Help with bone and tissue regeneration.