Pulsed electromagnetic fields improve the healing process of Achilles tendinopathy: A pilot study in a rat model

C. Perucca Orfei, A. B. Lovati, G. Lugano, M. Viganò, M. Bottagisio, D. D'Arrigo, V. Sansone, S. Setti, L. de Girolamo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Aims In the context of tendon degenerative disorders, the need for innovative conservative treatments that can improve the intrinsic healing potential of tendon tissue is progressively increasing. In this study, the role of pulsed electromagnetic fields (PEMFs) in improving the tendon healing process was evaluated in a rat model of collagenase-induced Achilles tendinopathy. Methods A total of 68 Sprague Dawley rats received a single injection of type I collagenase in Achilles tendons to induce the tendinopathy and then were daily exposed to PEMFs (1.5 mT and 75 Hz) for up to 14 days - starting 1, 7, or 15 days after the injection - to identify the best treatment option with respect to the phase of the disease. Then, 7 and 14 days of PEMF exposure were compared to identify the most effective protocol. Results The daily exposure to PEMFs generally provided an improvement in the fibre organization, a decrease in cell density, vascularity, and fat deposition, and a restoration of the physiological cell morphology compared to untreated tendons. These improvements were more evident when the tendons were exposed to PEMFs during the mid-acute phase of the pathology (7 days after induction) rather than during the early (1 day after induction) or the late acute phase (15 days after induction). Moreover, the exposure to PEMFs for 14 days during the mid-acute phase was more effective than for 7 days. Conclusion PEMFs exerted a positive role in the tendon healing process, thus representing a promising conservative treatment for tendinopathy, although further investigations regarding the clinical evaluation are needed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)613-622
Number of pages10
JournalBone and Joint Research
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2020


  • Achilles tendinopathy
  • Pulsed electromagnetic field
  • Tendon

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine

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