Effectiveness of pulsed electromagnetic field therapy in the management of complex regional pain syndrome type 1: A randomized-controlled trial

Author: İsmail Cömertoğlu1, Seçilay Güneş2, Atilla Halil Elhan3, Evren Üstüner4, Şehim Kutlay2, Ayşe Adile Küçükdeveci2
1 Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Avicenna International Hospital, Istanbul, Turkey.
2 Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Ankara University Faculty of Medicine, Ankara, Turkey.
3 Department of Biostatistics, Ankara University Faculty of Medicine, Ankara, Turkey.
4 Department of Radiology, Ankara University Faculty of Medicine, Ankara, Turkey.
Conference/Journal: Turk J Phys Med Rehabil
Date published: 2022 Mar 1
Other: Volume ID: 68 , Issue ID: 1 , Pages: 107-116 , Special Notes: doi: 10.5606/tftrd.2022.9074. , Word Count: 262

This study aims to investigate whether pulsed electromagnetic field (PEMF) therapy in addition to a conventional rehabilitation program is effective on pain and functioning in patients with type 1 complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS-1) of the hand.

Patients and methods:
Between March 2013 and January 2015, a total of 32 patients (16 males, 16 females; mean age: 50.1±13.1 years; range, 25 to 75 years) were included. The patients were randomly allocated into two groups. The control group (n=16) received a conventional rehabilitation program consisting of physical modalities, exercises, and occupational therapy, whereas the PEMF group (n=16) received additional PEMF (8 Hz, 3.2 mT) to the affected hand. The primary outcome measure was pain intensity using the Numeric Rating Scale (NRS). Secondary outcome measures were grip and pinch strength, hand edema, hand dexterity, and hand activities. All patients received 20 therapy sessions (five sessions/week, four weeks in total) and were evaluated before and after the therapy and at the first-month follow-up.

Both groups showed significant improvements in primary and secondary outcomes (p<0.05) after the therapy and at follow-up. When the groups were compared in terms of improvements in assessment parameters, no statistically significant difference was found between the two groups in any of the outcomes (p>0.05).

The PEMF in addition to conventional rehabilitation program did not provide additional benefit for pain and hand functions in CRPS-1. Future studies using different application parameters such as frequency, intensity, duration, and route may provide a better understanding of the role of PEMF in CRPS-1 treatment.

Keywords: Complex regional pain syndrome; physical therapy; pulsed electromagnetic field; rehabilitation; ultrasonography.

PMID: 35949961 PMCID: PMC9305649 DOI: 10.5606/tftrd.2022.9074