Pulsed electromagnetic field therapy appears to accelerate wound healing and improve blood circulation in chronic diabetic foot ulcers, according to a small study by researchers.

Hong Kong scientists randomly assigned the experiment’s 13 participants to one hour of either active PEMF therapy at a frequency of
12 Hz or the control condition, non-active PEMF therapy, in which participants placed a foot in the PEMF unit, but the output was shut off. All subjects received 14 sessions of the therapy over the course of three weeks.

At the end of the treatment period, researchers reported an 18% decrease in wound size among the active PEMF group, compared with a 10% decrease among the control group. The PEMF group also demonstrated a 28% increase in capillary blood velocity and a 14% increase in capillary diameter. The control group, showed a decrease in capillary blood velocity and diameter.

The use of PEMF therapy in the treatment of diabetic foot ulcers is controversial, but the authors said traditional treatment approaches, such as debridement, often fail to heal. 

Results appeared in the May issue of Advances in Skin & Wound Care