images-9PEMF therapy for bone implants
Inflammation or infection around bone implants is a common and often disastrous situation. Implants, usually metallic or ceramic, are placed in the body surgically to replace teeth, joints, gaps in bone, major trauma, dead bone from radiation, etc. Whenever an implant is placed in the body it’s always an experiment as to whether it will actually “take” by the body.

Inflammation or infection around the implant can cause the implant to loosen and create new health problems, including pain and disability. There may be bone destruction around the implant through inflammation and immune reactions caused by bacteria adhering to the surface of the implant. This is called implantitis, or peri-implantitis. Peri-implantitis is the major reason for implant failure. Peri-implantitis is associated with a biofilm of microorganisms, usually anaerobic, that is those bacteria not using oxygen for their energy. Immune responses to the bacteria and inflammation lead to the destruction of the tissues around the implant. This cascade of inflammatory reactions leads to the breakdown of bone, with bone cells called osteoclasts. Osteoclastic over activity is also responsible for osteopenia and osteoporosis.

The use of antibiotics to treat these implant infections often fails because of the presence of drug-resistant bacteria and the resistance of biofilms to treatment. Electromagnetic treatment can often have antibacterial effects. Pulsed electromagnetic fields may resonate with different parts of the bacterial membrane, DNA and other bacterial molecules. Besides potential direct PEMF effects on bacteria and the associated inflammation, which works against the success of an implant, there are PEMF effects on bone remodeling and implant osteo-integration.

PEMFs can also enhance stem cells responsible for tissue synthesis and the bone maturation and enhanced proliferation of bone marrow stem cells. PEMFs can also increase mineralization of osteoblasts [bone building cells]. The action of osteoclasts can be inhibited by PEMFs. So, the simultaneous reduction of excessive and destructive osteoclastic activity and increased osteoblast activity of PEMFs helps bone remodeling. This means the bone around the implant would actually integrate with the implant better with the use of PEMFs.

It’s possible that PEMFs may actually be even more effective when used with anti-inflammatory agents, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories [for example, ibuprofen]. PEMFs may also increase the lipid content of cellular membranes which are involved in inflammatory and immune reactions, augmenting the anti-inflammatory effects.

Therefore, PEMFs may be a new approach to managing inflammation and infection around implants and maintaining bone mass. It’s likely that PEMFs may be even more significant when combined with antibiotics and anti-inflammatory drugs. The therapeutic value of PEMFs in this situation is dependent on the intensity of the PEMF, frequency of exposure and the length of therapy sessions.

The SomaPulse device has actually been proven in NASA research to increase stem cell production and connective tissue growth genes. Because of the evidence to support its actions, its portability and the potential for extended use, it would be an ideal device to assist with complications with implants as well as to prevent implant problems. Most people wait until they have a problem before they would even consider the PEMF device for their implant. Most doctors are not aware of the potential value of PEMFs in the setting of implants.

I would strongly urge anybody considering an implant to begin the use of a PEMF system before surgery and then as soon as possible after the surgery until the implant has clearly been found to be well-integrated. Unfortunately, implants often have a short lifespan. There is some suggestion that the long-term use of PEMFs in the area of an implant will keep the implant integrated into the surrounding bone better long-term, extending the long-term survival of the implant. Surgeries to repair or replace an implant can be more challenging than the original surgery. Therefore anybody with an implant would be encouraged to continue to use PEMF therapy as long as the implant is in place.

Dr. Pawluk

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