Scientific studies show PEMF therapy as an effective treatment for post-Covid-19 fatigue and pneumonia.
By now, over 509 million people have been infected with COVID-19 worldwide. If you or someone you know has been infected, you’re probably already aware that the common symptoms of COVID-19 infection include fever, cough, shortness of breath, tiredness and loss of taste or smell. In more severe cases, Covid-19 can lead to complications in the lungs, including pneumonia.
Many patients will also have lingering symptoms following recovery in a phenomenon known as post-COVID syndrome or long-hauler syndrome. Those with post-COVID syndrome may continue to experience symptoms for months. These symptoms can include fatigue, brain fog, joint pain, depression, muscle pain, sleep issues and chest pain.
Pneumonia and the symptoms of post-COVID syndrome can be painful, uncomfortable, and frustrating to live with. Beyond following your doctor’s recommendations, and seeing specialists like cardiologists and pulmonologists for complications, you may wonder what you can do to help manage symptoms at home. Fortunately, recent studies on the use of pulsed electromagnetic field (PEMF) therapy for post-COVID fatigue and pneumonia following COVID-19 infection have shown promise as a way to reduce the severity of symptoms. Here we break down both studies, explain how PEMF devices were used, and what kind of symptom relief patients saw from PEMF treatment.
Successful application of pulsed electromagnetic fields in a patient with post-COVID-19 fatigue: a case report. (Wagner et al., 2022)
This was a case study on a 55-year-old female who had persistent weakness, tiredness, and exhaustion since being infected with COVID-19 six and a half months prior. She had been on sick leave for 3 weeks, taking medication twice daily for pain. Her main complaint was fatigue, but she also had difficulty concentrating and shortness of breath when exerting herself. Married with two children, and working 30 hours a week previously, her symptoms became worse due to the stress of needing to take sick leave and simultaneously homeschooling her children. While she had not received any treatments specifically for fatigue, she had been resistance training with a trainer twice a week for five months, but exercising had not changed many of her symptoms.
PEMF Treatment Protocol
For this study, the researchers used a PEMF device which they noted, “is a certified and approved medical device (class IIa) that can be safely and effectively applied to treat fatigue and general weakness.”
The patient was screened for contraindications for PEMF use, including pregnancy, ring-shaped metals in the body, and electronic implants (e.g., cochlear implant, pacemaker, implantable cardioverter defibrillator).
She was given ten 30-minute sessions of pulsed electromagnetic field treatment over the course of 5 weeks.
The device was always applied to the following regions for the indicated amount of time:
Abdominal area – 6 minutes
Over the sternum – 3 minutes
Upper back, covering the lungs and adrenal area – 6 minutes
Pelvic floor area – 6 minutes
Soles of both feet – 6 minutes
The pulse rate was 2.5 Hz in the dorsal (back) area and 1 Hz for all other locations.
How Physical and Mental Improvements Were Measured.
Since long COVID-19 syndrome contributes to both mental and physical health issues, the following outcome tools were used to evaluate the treatment outcome:
The Brief Fatigue Inventory: measures the severity and impairment of fatigue
The Short Form Health Survey: measures the health-related quality of life
The Work Ability Index: evaluates one’s ability to work in relation to physical and psychological work demands
The Perceived Stress Scale: Assesses experience of stress, helplessness, and self-efficacy
The Patient Health Questionnaire: Screens for the presence and severity of depression
The Generalized Anxiety Disorder 7: Questionnaire to identify patients with Generalized Anxiety Disorder and assess the severity of symptoms
The Brief Resilience Scale: Measures the ability to successfully cope with difficult, stressful situations and recover quickly from them.
After four treatment sessions, the patient reported increased energy and decreased fatigue. Improvements continued over the following PEMF sessions. By her 10th session, she felt fully recovered and could handle challenges in her work and personal life. Her wellbeing continued through the evaluation six weeks after treatment ended. To give examples of her energy levels, the patient said that going for a hike or baking a cake at the end of a busy day were manageable tasks now. She also reported no adverse side effects.
The measured outcomes, as per the questionnaires/assessments were as follows:
She moved from moderate fatigue before treatment to no fatigue post-intervention
Her mood, work, relationships, and enjoyment of life improved
Her ability to work improved from “critical” (21.5 points) before treatment to “good” (40 points) after treatment.
Her stress levels changed from “high” (43 points) to “moderate” (16 points) post-intervention
She moved from having moderately severe depression (16 points) to a normal level (2 points).
Generalized anxiety decreased from pathologic (13 points) to normal (2 points).
Resilience improved from “low” to “high”
All improvements persisted through the follow-up evaluation six weeks after completing her ten PEMF treatment sessions.
Why PEMF was Effective
From reviewing literature and previous research, the researchers offered the following hypotheses about how PEMF works to improve physical and mental wellness:
Electromagnetic stimuli interact with cells through ion channels or receptors on the cell membrane, modifying cellular function and initiating signal transduction (cell communication).
PEMF has been shown to enhance metabolism and gut microbiome. The gut microbiome/immune system/brain axis is sensitive to stress. In this way, gut microbiomes can influence disorders such as depression.
Improving physical energy levels, as PEMF has been shown to do, has a direct positive influence on mental wellbeing and resilience
The Future of PEMF as a Treatment for Fatigue.
The study concluded that PEMF therapy is well-tolerated, noninvasive, easily applied, and can be used on a fully-dressed patient. Since this study showed promising results, the author’s recommended that future studies use a larger sample size to investigate how PEMF treatment (on its own or in combination with physical exercise) can aid in the rehabilitation of patients with post-COVID-19 fatigue syndrome. PEMF therapy could help patients to better manage fatigue and associated symptoms, reducing clinical health and economic consequences.
Efficacy of Low-Frequency Magnetic Therapy in Patients with COVID-19 Pneumonia (Bodrova et al., 2020)
Early data has shown that up to a third of COVID pneumonia patients show evidence of lung scarring up to a year after infection. Pneumonia can lead to complications of the respiratory system, brain, cardiovascular system, and can even lead to permanent disability.
During recovery from COVID pneumonia, your body must first repair the damage to the lungs then clear leftover debris and fluid. Then, scarring occurs until the tissue is fully healed. This healing process in itself can create many unpleasant symptoms.
Those who develop moderate to severe COVID-19 (about 15% of infected cases) and who require hospital admission and need oxygen therapy take an average of three to six weeks to recover. Those who develop severe or critical COVID-19 (about 5% of cases) can take even longer to recover.
Because of the severe and long-lasting impact of pneumonia, as well as the increase in cases of pneumonia due to COVID-19 infections, it’s urgent for modern medicine to find and implement new methods of physical rehabilitation. Research into PEMF therapy is showing it to be a safe, non-invasive treatment option for pneumonia.
This study involved 52 patients in Russia with an average age of 56, who had suffered from pneumonia caused by COVID-19.
PEMF Treatment Protocol:
Group 1 – Treatment Group (30 patients)
On the 16th day after discharge from the hospital, patients in this group received low-frequency electromagnetic therapy daily for 20 minutes, for a course of 10-12 procedures.
Group 2 – Control Group (22 patients)
Patients received treatment in accordance with the Temporary Clinical Recommendations of the Ministry of Health of the Russian Federation for the treatment of COVID-19, as well as the Temporary Clinical Recommendations for medical rehabilitation for COVID-19 infection. They did not receive any PEMF treatments.
How Physical and Mental Effects of Treatment were Measured.
Spirometry: Measures how well the patient inhales and exhales
Chest excursion: Chest measurements taken during inhalation and exhalation
Rehabilitation routing scale
Quality of life questionnaire
Borg scale: Assessment of patient’s exercise tolerance
Oxygen saturation in the blood
Health Outcomes of PEMF Use:
Compared to the control group, group 1 (the PEMF group) showed:
An increase in the vital capacity of the lungs by 16.4%
A decrease in shortness of breath (from moderate to mild) by 64.1%
An increase in chest excursion by 45.6%
A decrease in disabilities by 62.7 %
Improved general mobility by 44.5%
Improved everyday activity by 26.1%
A decrease in pain and discomfort by 47.9%
A decrease in anxiety and depression by 42.2%
Using low-frequency magnetic therapy in the rehabilitation of COVID-19 induced pneumonia was effective in many ways. The treatment contributed to the regression of respiratory issues, reduced anxiety and depression, minimized pain and discomfort and improved the patients’ overall quality of life.
Hope for those with post-COVID-19 complications
While very different in focus and scale, both of these recent studies indicate that treatment with PEMF may promote significant and long-term alleviation of both physical and mental after-effects of COVID-19. Before the pandemic, PEMF devices have been used effectively in the treatment of sleep disorders, anxiety and depression, pain, mobility, and low energy. The same effectiveness appears to be true for the treatment of these symptoms following COVID-19 infection.
If you are struggling with post-COVID-19 symptoms, it’s important to meet with your doctor and any specialists so that they can create a treatment plan that is best for you. However, PEMF therapy may be a simple, safe, non-invasive way to help accelerate the healing process and get some relief. After just a few treatment sessions, patients in these studies were breathing better, moving more freely, and were more energetic, less stressed, and happier.