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Simultaneous Use of Opioid and Electromagnetic Treatments

Concurrent therapeutic electromagnetic applications complement opioid treatment and promote enhanced pain control.
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In this century, there have been seminal discoveries that set the stage for a treatment approach which combines opioids and electromagnetic measures. Electric currents and electromagnetic waves have clearly been shown to reduce pain when administered by a wide variety of techniques. Not only do various electromagnetic currents or waves reduce pain within seconds, or minutes, after administration, some electromagnetic waves—particularly those in the radiofrequency range—promote collagen formation, capillary budding, and other wound-healing necessities. Opioid receptors have been discovered in peripheral tissues and they multiply in inflammatory tissue.4-6 Opioids applied topically to a pain site will reduce pain apparently due to binding with these opioid receptors. In summary, many historical and scientific developments now set the stage for a combined, opioid-electromagnetic approach to pain problems. A primer on terms and definitions is presented in Table 1.

Figure 2. Electromagnetic waves are generated by an electric current passing through a conductor such as coil of copper wire. Instruments are used to medically administer either a direct electric current or an electromagnetic energy wave known as a microwave (diathermy), radio wave, or ultrasound. Figure 3. Categories of waves in the electromagnetic spectrum

Table 1. Primer on Terms and Definitions

General term that encompasses a variety of phenomena resulting from the flow of electric charges.

Electric Charge
Property of some subatomic particles, usually electrons and protons, which produces electromagnetic interactions.

Electric Current
A flow of electrically charged particles and typically measured in amperage.

Electromagnetic Energy
Waves generated by an electric current moving through a metal object such as a wire. The outgoing electromagnetic waves include those labeled radio, ultrasound, micro, infrared, ultraviolet, laser, x-ray, and gamma ray. The unit of electromagnetic energy is the photon.

Table 2. Some Electric Extraction-mobilization Measures


  • Copper
  • Magnets
  • Magnesium Sulfate (Epson Salts)
  • Acupuncture
  • Inserted Needles
  • Water Soaking

Two Basic Types of Electromagnetic Modalities

There are two basic types of electromagnetic modalities. One type attempts to extract or mobilize sequestered electricity. The other administers an electric current or electromagnetic wave to mobilize sequestered electricity and enhance healing of the pain site by stimulating wound-healing mechanisms. The latter may also modulate, or alter, the neurocircuitry of the body.7,8

Electrical Extraction/Mobilization Modalities

Most electromagnetic modalities to extract or mobilize sequestered electricity are simple, inexpensive, and readily available to all who seek them (see Table 2). There are few controlled studies, however, that meet the criteria for “evidence-based therapy.” Precise mechanisms of some measures are not completely known but a basic explanation is given here based on historical developments, theoretical rationale, and the author’s clinical experience. Consequently, the general title for these common measures is “extraction/ mobilization.” Certainly, future developments may provide superior explanation.

Metals such as copper, magnesium, and zinc are positively charged. Sequestered electricity in pain sites is usually negatively charged due to excess electrons. Positively charged metals attract electricity to temporarily relieve pain. Magnets, originally called “lodestones” because of metals “loaded” on them, have long been believed to increase blood circulation. While magnets may attract circulating metals, particularly iron, in blood and lymph to increase circulation, magnets are also known to cause an electric current to mobilize.2,3 A magnet placed over a pain site may produce immediate, but temporary pain relief, because it forces electric charges to mobilize. Physicians should be aware of the growing popularity of magnets and copper among chronic pain patients. There are commercially available copper and magnetic bracelets, necklaces, and anklets. You can buy a mattress, back, knee, or neck brace, and shoe sole inserts that contain magnets. Stick-on adhesive bandages that contain a magnet are also available. Magnesium, zinc, and copper are sold as tablets; and zinc and copper can be purchased as topical creams. Even Epson Salts, which is magnesium sulfate, is commercially available and can be purchased and put in bath water or a pan for soaking painful extremities. Water and ice are good conductors of electricity and act to extract sequestered electric charges. If the water contains metals—i.e., mineral baths—all the better.

There are some other electrical extraction techniques that are common, although, perhaps unappreciated as to causation. Physicians who do trigger point injections found out years ago that a needle injected into a pain site relieved pain without the need for a corticoid. Any metal needle inserted into, or around, a pain site will attract sequestered electricity. Acu-puncture needles do the same thing.

“Grounding” is the simple term used to explain that excess electricity, including lightning, goes into the ground.3 Since the human body continuously produces electricity and moves currents throughout the body, it must naturally ground itself to relieve excess buildup of electricity. The body apparently, and primarily, grounds itself through the hands and feet, as they are the most external points in the circuit. Most massage or acupressure sites are probably ground connections. A few years ago, the author heard a physician lecture who claimed that his pain patients who walked barefoot on grass, rugs, or sand did better. Could that be? That now makes sense. The need to ground excess electricity in the body’s circuit provides a logical rationale for the positive use of massage, stretching and physical movement.

Administration of Electric Currents or Electromagnetic Energy

The administration of electromagnetic measures treats pain with two types: (1) electric current, and (2) electromagnetic energy (see Table 3). Physicians need to know that all forms of energy or electricity are related, and comprised of ionic, invisible matter. Electrical energy is transmitted in waves with different potency (see Figure 3). The electromagnetic devices and techniques being commercially offered to physicians and patients have different ionic waves and strengths. Different measures and techniques may have very different clinical affects as they exert different biological actions. Also, patients may vary in their response to the various administered measures.

Last updated on: November 13, 2012