Electromagnetic Field (PEMF) Therapy in Small Animal Practice

This webinar discusses pulsed electromagnetic field therapy. Discussion will include the science behind the technology and the applications for this integrative therapy in small animals. Case studies demonstrating its application in managing osteoarthritis, wound care, and the wobbler patient (cervical vertebral instability) will be included.

Electromagnetic Field (PEMF) Therapy in the Equine

Learn about pulsed electromagnetic field therapy. Discussion will include the science behind the technology and the applications for this integrative therapy in the equine. Case studies demonstrating its application in wound care, managing the wobbler patient, and horses with laminitis (founder) will be discussed.

Veterinary Research

Effect of targeted PEMF therapy on canine post-operative hemilaminectomy: a double- blind, randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial.

Alvarez LX, McCue J, Lam NK, Fox P, Gulce A.

J Am Anim Hosp Assoc. 2019 Mar/Apr;55(2):83-91.

Intervertebral disk disease (IVDD) is one of the leading causes of paralysis in dogs. Pulsed Electromagnetic Field Therapy (PEMF) has been advocated for improving wound healing and pain reduction, however, robust clinical trials are lacking. The present…Read Abstract

The effect of electromagnetic fields on postoperative pain and locomotor recovery in dogs with acute, severe thoracolumbar intervertebral disc extrusion: a randomized placebo-controlled, prospective clinical trial.

Zidan N, Fenn J, Griffith E, Early PJ, Mariani CL, Munana KR, Guevar J, Olby N.

J Neurotrauma. 2018 Aug 1;35(15):1726-1736.

Spinal cord injury (SCI) due to acute intervertebral disc extrusions (IVDE) is common in dogs and is treated by surgical decompression. Dogs with sensorimotor complete injuries have an incomplete recovery. Pulsed electromagnetic fields (PEMF) reduce…Read Abstract


Osteoarthritis (OA) is a growing problem in animals. Assisi is marketing technologies that have been demonstrated to provide pain relief in human OA of the knee.1 There is existing evidence that PEMF therapies of several types may improve the progression of OA and underlying health of cartilage. Studies suggest that use of PEMF can slow the progression of OA in animals2 and have positive effects on cartilage cells directly.3 Targeted signals modulate chondrocyte proliferation through a pathway which is mediated by nitric oxide.4 This is the same pathway through which Assisi’s technology decreases inflammation and enhances healing.5

The use of a standard PEMF technology (not Assisi), produced the significant preservation of cartilage (in pink) in a model that treated animals one-hour a day. Treated animals had a third less progression of OA1.

1 Nelson, et al.  2009.  ORS, submitted.
2 Ciombor D, McK Aaron RK, Wang S, Simon B. 2003. Modification of osteoarthritis by pulsed electromagnetic field-a morphological study. Osteoarthritis Cartilage. 11:455-62.
3Fini, M., Giavaresi, G., Carpi, A., Nicolini, A., Setti, S. and Giardino, R. 2005. Effects of pulsed electromagnetic fields on articular hyaline cartilage: review of experimental and clinical studies Biomedicine & Pharmacotherapy 59:388-394.4
4Fitzsimmons RJ, Gordon SL, Kronberg J, Ganey T, Pilla AA. 2008. A pulsing electric field (PEF) increases human chondrocyte proliferation through a transduction pathway involving nitric oxide signaling. J Orthop Res. 26:854-9
5Strauch B, Herman C, Dabb R, Ignarro LJ, Pilla AAv.2009. Evidence-based use of pulsed electromagnetic field therapy in clinical plastic surgery. Aesthet Surgery Journal.29:135-43

Pain Management

Assisi technology derives from PEMF technology cleared by the FDA for the treatment of post-operative pain and edema. Studies have demonstrated that the Assisi base technology is at least as effective as NSAIDs in the treatment of pain and edema.1 In a study on humans, using the technology upon which Assisi is based, the use of pain medication decreased by nearly 3-fold in the treated patients compared with the control group.2

1Johnson MT, Ramanathan M, Owegi R, Pilla AA. 2008. Modulation of carrageenan-induced paw edema and hyperalgesia in the rat with pulsed magnetic field therapy. Proceedings, 30th Annual Meeting, Bioelectromagnetics Society, Frederick, MD, June 2008, p. 156.
2Heden P, Pilla AA. 2008. Effects of pulsed electromagnetic fields on postoperative pain: a double-blind randomized pilot study in breast augmentation patients. Aesthetic Plast Surg. 32:660-6.

Assisi targeted PEMF (tPEMF)® technology summary

Assisi’s targeted pulsed electromagnetic field technologies emerge out of a century-long evolution of using electrical currents to improve health and healing. Pulsed electromagnetic fields are simply delivery systems for inducing electrical current. Pulsing an electromagnetic field near a conductor (such as tissue) will induce current flow in the conductor.

This simple law from physics allows currents to be induced in tissue from outside the body, without anything touching the skin. Magnetic fields penetrate through bandages, casts, fur, hair etc. The simple induction of electrical current in tissue is the functional therapeutic component of Assisi’s tPEMF® technology.

Historically, PEMF technologies were generally large, AC-powered devices that produced a substantial magnetic field. Even today, manufacturers of some PEMF devices describe them as “powerful” or “more powerful”. During much of this period of development, PEMF devices did not have a specific or known biological target. Developing medical applications of the technology was largely driven by trial and error based on unproven assumptions that greater power was likely to produce better outcomes.

We now know those assumptions to be incorrect. By the 1970s, researchers and clinicians had developed relatively low-powered PEMF devices – bone growth stimulators (BGS) – to heal recalcitrant fractures. Although demonstrated to be effective at fracture repair at low power, the specific mechanism of action remained elusive.

Arthur A. Pilla, one of the inventors of BGS technology and a professor of Biomedical Engineering at Columbia University, was also the original developer of Assisi’s targeted PEMF products. He focused significant time and resources on researching mechanisms of action for PEMF and developing PEMF signals. Among the potential targets proposed in the literature, research suggested that calcium binding was a likely candidate, in particular, the binding of calcium (Ca) to calmodulin (CaM). This particular complex is a voltage-dependent process responsible for a number of potentially therapeutic biological cascades, most importantly the natural anti-inflammatory cascade.

Learn more about the science behind the technology here.

The Ca/CaM anti-inflammatory cascade is well described. The initial binding of four calcium ions to calmodulin produces a conformational change in CaM, which, in turn, then binds to the constitutive nitric oxide syntheses (both endothelial – eNOS and neuronal – nNOS), which virtually immediately (within seconds) leads to the production of nitric oxide (NO), a principal anti-inflammatory molecule. Nitric oxide reduces pain, improves blood flow and reduces edema. It further triggers downstream effects, including the production of cGMP, the ‘energy’ molecule that then drives growth factor production, which, in turn, support new blood vessel formation, tissue regeneration and then, ultimately, to tissue remodeling.

What this means is that Assisi can bring the most effective targeted PEMF technology to veterinary medicine in small, lightweight and disposable configurations whose effectiveness is supported by a substantial and growing body of basic science and clinical research.