Magnetic Therapy and PEMF for Horses
Updated December 7, 2022 | Reviewed by Dr. Andris J. Kaneps, DVM, PhD, DACVS, DACVSR
Basics of Magnetic Therapy
Tissues, cells, and fluids within all of our bodies have ions. Ions may respond to an electrical or magnetic field.
Magnets have been used to influence imbalances in the body’s energy channels and promote healing in a wide variety of ailments in human and veterinary medicine.
For perspective, the Earth’s magnetic field strength is measured as approximately 0.5 Gauss. Many magnetic therapy devices emit 300-500 Gauss field strength. An MRI machine used to image your horse will have a magnetic field strength of 3400 - 17800 Gauss (usually identified as 0.28 – 1.78 Tesla, where 1 Tesla equals 10,000 Gauss).
You can expect to erase the magnetic strip on your credit cards at field strengths of 700 Gauss. In other words, therapeutic magnets have very low field strength.
Static Magnetic Therapy for Horses
Static magnetic therapy for horses includes blankets, pads, and wraps with strategically placed and sewn in magnets that are designed to be worn over stiff or injured areas. Similar to many other alternative therapies, magnets are thought to increase blood flow, reduce pain, and encourage the body’s natural healing processes.
While static magnetic therapy has yet to be proven effective in equine medicine, pulsed electro-magnetic field therapy (PEMF) has considerable research identifying positive benefits.
Pulsed Electro-Magnetic Field Therapy (PEMF)
In a 2009 report on PEMF therapy, NASA stated: “One may use this electrical potentiation for a number of purposes, including developing tissues for transplantation, repairing traumatized tissues, and moderating some neurodegenerative diseases and perhaps controlling the degeneration of tissue as might be effected in a bioelectric stasis field.”
Recently, a study using a commercially available PEMF therapy blanket in horses with clinical back pain found reduced pain in the topline muscles, better flexibility and postural stability in treated horses
How PEMF Works
A pulsating magnetic field is created by passing an electric current through a coil. The electrical impulse, which can have varying frequency and intensity, interacts with ions in the cells and enhances cellular activity.
This stimulation at a cellular level results in improved blood flow, more efficient removal of metabolic waste products, and regeneration of cells. Pulsed electromagnetic units, full body blankets, and boots for horses are designed to be purposefully positioned over sore muscles, joints, and injured areas.
Benefits of PEMF for Horses
- Stimulates cellular metabolism
- Increases circulation
- Reduces edema and inflammation
- Promotes relaxation
How PEMF Therapy is Used on Horses
- Blankets and devices with adjustable settings and programs are applied to horses for 20–30 minute sessions
Examples of PEMF from the Barn
- Part of a routine before/after exercise to encourage faster recovery and soundness
- To stimulate tissues of slow-healing wounds or ligament injuries
- A whole-body treatment post-surgery
- King et al. J Equine Vet Sci2022 Apr;111:103867