Pre-clinical studies have shown that treatment by pulsed electromagnetic fields (PEMFs) can limit the catabolic effects of pro-inflammatory cytokines on articular cartilage and favour the anabolic activity of the chondrocytes. Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction is usually performed by arthroscopic procedure that, even if minimally invasive, may elicit an inflammatory joint reaction detrimental to articular cartilage. In this study the effect of I-ONE PEMFs treatment in patients undergoing ACL reconstruction was investigated. The study end-points were (1) evaluation of patients' functional recovery by International Knee Documentation Committee (IKDC) Form; (2) use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), necessary to control joint pain and inflammation. The study design was prospective, randomized and double blind. Sixty-nine patients were included in the study at baseline. Follow-up visits were scheduled at 30, 60 and 180 days, followed by 2-year follow-up interview. Patients were evaluated by IKDC Form and were asked to report on the use of NSAIDs. Patients were randomized to active or placebo treatments; active device generated a magnetic field of 1.5 mT at 75 Hz. Patients were instructed to use the stimulator (I-ONE) for 4 h per day for 60 days. All patients underwent ACL reconstruction with use of quadruple hamstrings semitendinosus and gracilis technique. At baseline there were no differences in the IKDC scores between the two groups. At follow-up visits the SF-36 Health Survey score showed a statistically significant faster recovery in the group of patients treated with I-ONE stimulator (P <0.05). NSAIDs use was less frequent among active patients than controls (P <0.05). Joint swelling resolution and return to normal range of motion occurred faster in the active treated group (P <0.05) too. The 2-year follow-up did not shown statistically significant difference between the two groups. Furthermore for longitudinal analysis the generalized linear mixed effects model was applied to calculate the group × time interaction coefficient; this interaction showed a significant difference (P <0.0001) between the active and placebo groups for all investigated variables: SF-36 Health Survey, IKDC Subjective Knee Evaluation and VAS. Twenty-nine patients (15 in the active group; 14 in the placebo group) underwent both ACL reconstruction and meniscectomy; when they were analysed separately the differences in SF-36 Health Survey scores between the two groups were larger then what observed in the whole study group (P <0.05). The results of this study show that patient's functional recovery occurs earlier in the active group. No side effects were observed and the treatment was well tolerated. The use of I-ONE should always be considered after ACL reconstruction, particularly in professional athletes, to shorten the recovery time, to limit joint inflammatory reaction and its catabolic effects on articular cartilage and ultimately for joint preservation.
- Anterior cruciate ligament
- Biophysical stimuli
- Joint preservation
- Pulsed electromagnetic fields
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
- Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation