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Critical Reviews™ in Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine
SJR: 0.121 SNIP: 0.228 CiteScore™: 0.17

ISSN Print: 0896-2960
ISSN Online: 2162-6553

Critical Reviews™ in Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine

DOI: 10.1615/CritRevPhysRehabilMed.v16.i2.20
14 pages

Magnetotherapy: Historical Background With a Stimulating Future

Michael I. Weintraub
New York Medical College, Department of Neurology & Internal Medicine, Valhalla, NY


It is now well established that weak, nonthermal electromagnetic fields (EMF) can result in physiologically meaningful in vivo and in vitro bioeffects. This article critically reviews both positive and negative cellular and clinical applications of permanent static magnetic fields (SMF, 1−4000 Gauss) and time-varying pulsed EMF (PEMF) and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) for a variety of orthopedic, musculoskeletal, neurologic, and psychiatric conditions. Technological innovations have triggered not only enthusiasm and excitement in the scientific community but also skepticism. Despite the fact that very little is known about the precise mechanisms of action, readers will become aware of the current biophysical theories in ion-ligand binding, transductive signaling, and modulation via a cascade of biological and chemical effects at the cell-tissue-atomic level.
Modern-day magnetotherapy is currently in its infancy as regards SMF, PEMF, and TMS applications. Because randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trials are the gold standard in clinical research, future trials and applications need to be validated as rigorously as possible so as to enhance regenerative capabilities and reduce skepticism. It is quite plausible that within the next 5 to 10 years, magnetotherapy will assume a much greater therapeutic importance to the medical community, leading to less dependence on traditional pharmacology and surgery.

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