Magnetotherapy, comprised in the domain of physiotherapy, comprises the use of low frequency and low intensity pulsed electromagnetic fields; it exploits the action of a magnetic field induced by an electric current passing through a coil (solenoid).
The underlying principle by means of which magnetotherapy exerts its therapeutic effects implies the restoring of order in a region presumed to be affected by magnetic disorder.
This effect is achieved through a direct or indirect action on several important body components, including:
- endorphins and their derivatives, modulators of sensitivity to pain (analgesic effect);
- diamagnetic substances (oxygen, hydrogen, free radicals, enzymes) thought to be capable of influencing almost all reactions carried out in the body (regulatory effect);
- cell membrane, the permeability of which, if altered, will no longer be able to regulate the sodium pump resulting in cell oedema (anti-oedematous and anti-inflammatory effect);
- ortho- and para-sympathetic systems which stimulated on the basis of the quality, intensity and duration of the magnetic field, may induce a series of local (adrenal medullary) or general (circulating catecholamines) responses. Based on the prevalence of ortho- or para-sympathetic stimulation, either alpha or beta receptors and a series of metabolisms (glucose, protein or lipid) are affected.
Moreover, magnetotherapy exerts an action aimed at promoting the process of tissue repair and stimulates the natural defence system of the body.
According to the type of biological effect elicited, the therapeutic action of magnetic fields may be summarised into two main focal points:
- antiflogosis and anti-oedematous effects;
- stimulation of tissue repair processes.
Diseases of the musculoskeletal apparatus constitute the most appropriate field of application for magnetotherapy; in particular, post-traumatic conditions respond extremely well to this type of treatment. All traumatic events, ranging from a small distortive trauma to serious fractures, may benefit from this type of treatment, at times displaying remarkable recovery times.
Bone diseases treated by means of magnetotherapy have likewise displayed the onset of repair processes and shorter recovery times.
To explain the more rapid processes of bone healing, corrective osteotomies, detachment of endoprosthetic replacements, etc. induced by magnetotherapy, several hypotheses have been put forward. Magnetotherapy is maintained to elicit biological effects capable of:
- inducing a piezoelectric effect in the connective tissue structures (collagen) deranged by bone discontinuity;
- determining a structural orientation of collagen and the newly formed bone, and promoting the calcium deposition process resulting in improved quality of the bone callus;
- increasing blood flow and local oxygen pressure (hypervascularization);
- improving the tissue repair process in soft tissues (connective and epithelial tissues);
- failing to affect, or exerting a negligible effect, on the T0 of tissues, a factor of particular importance in the treatment of subjects with metal implants.
Therefore, by using low frequencies, magnetotherapy should be viewed as a first choice therapeutic option, particularly in the treatment of flogosis, trauma and degenerative diseases of the osteoarticular and muscle-tendon apparatuses.
- Pain relief (analgesic)
- Myorelaxant (prevention of spasms)
- Anti-odematous (anti-swelling)
- Detoxification (accelerating the metabolism)