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MINERVA ORTOPEDICA E TRAUMATOLOGICA
Rivista di Ortopedia e Traumatologia
Minerva Ortopedica e Traumatologica 2016 March;67(1):1-7
The role of pulsed electromagnetic fields in the “practice” of amateur running
Quadrante Orthopedic Centre, Omegna, Verbania, Italy
BACKGROUND: Running at an amateur level, especially cross country, is a rapidly growing phenomenon, together with a constant increase in “endurance” pathologies. The knee is one of the joints that undergoes a functional overload when running, and very easily develops pathologies both at the periarticular structure level (quadriceps/kneecap and ligamentous enthesis) and at an intra-articular level (synovial-meniscal-cartilaginous-bone tissues). Finding a recurrence of pain in the subchondral bone in amateur runners during functional overload (long training sessions) has led the author to evaluate how the bone (and the entire joint) reacts to pulsed electromagnetic field (PEMF) stimulation for 60 days. PEMF treatment on full-blown osteochondral lesions (with symptomatic bone injury) has been already carried out with good results for several years. In this study the author has monitored the frequency of bone pain in a not yet symptomatic phase and the reaction to contemporaneous PEMF treatment in amateur runners.
METHODS: The study group is limited (but carefully selected) to 20 cases. Patients were divided in two subgroups of 10, one of which subject to PEMF stimulation, for 60 days and for 5-6 continuous hours in the night, at a frequency of 50hz. All patients underwent a NMR pretreatment and NMR treatment after 60 days.
RESULTS: The study has shown a significant frequency of bone pain in the mid tibial plateau (6 cases out of 10 who were treated and recorded in this study) and a good reaction to PEMF treatment with a marked reduction of the bone marrow edema in all cases that were treated.
CONCLUSIONS: Complaint of pain in the subchondral bone among amateur runners should be feared as, if it is not diagnosed early, may lead to permanent osteochondral damage. The use of PEMF treatment on selected athletes and in particular phases of training for cross country races, has been found to be concretely useful. The study group should definitely be broadened, but the recorded data are very promising.