Frequency specific microcurrent
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Frequency specific microcurrent or frequency specific microcurrent therapy (FSMT) is the practice of introducing a mild electrical current into an area of damaged soft tissue. Practitioners believe that the introduced current enhances the healing process underway in that same tissue. Quackwatch includes FSMT in its index of "questionable" treatments.
Frequency Specific Microcurrent (FSM) uses specific frequencies resurrected from a list of frequencies used by thousands of medical physicians between 1910 and 1935. In 1935, the AMA decreed that drugs and surgery were going to be the only legitimate medical therapies and the devices that delivered the frequencies ended up in the back rooms of clinics all over the US and Canada. In 1946, an osteopath named Harry Van Gelder bought a practice in Vancouver BC and found a machine in the back room of his new clinic that was made in 1922. That machine came with a list of frequencies. Van Gelder learned how to use the machine and the frequencies and combined them with other therapies to treat very difficult patients successfully. Dr. Carolyn McMakin discovered Van Gelder's list in 1995 and began to use a two-channel microcurrent machine to deliver the frequencies. There are frequencies used on two channels simultaneously applied so the frequencies from the two channels intersect or cross in the area to be treated. Clinical experience shows that both frequencies need to accurately reflect the condition causing the problem (like inflammation or scarring) and the tissue being affected (like the nerve or spinal cord) in order for the treatment to be successful. The therapy is used for treatment not diagnosis. It is not to be used in the treatment of cancer except as palliative care for reducing pain, metastatic bone pain and for eliminating the nausea caused by chemo therapy.
At first the frequencies and micro current were only used to treat myofascial pain. Myofascial pain and myofascial trigger points are considered very difficult to treat with manual and medical therapies but FSM appeared to treat the trigger points easily and successfully. "Microcurrent treatment of myofascial pain in the head neck and face" was published in Topics in Clinical Chiropractic Vol 5 (1) 1998. and "Microcurrent therapy: a novel treatment for chronic low back myofascial pain." was published in Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies (2004) 8.
The technique was first taught in 1997 to determine if the results achieved were reproducible. By 1998 it was apparent that the results were reproducible as determined by the successful treatment of myofascial pain by practitioners trained to use the technique. At this point in 2016, there are over 3,000 practitioners using FSM in clinics all over the world to treat a wide variety of conditions.
The microcurrent devices are classified by the FDA in the category of TENS devices even though the current delivered in 1000 times less than TENS. The physiologic sub-sensory micro-amperage current has been shown to increase ATP production by 500% in vivo and in vitro studies. Cheng 1982, Seegers 2001, 2002.,,
In 1998, frequency protocols were developed that are effective in the treatment of neuropathic (nerve) pain like sciatica and nerve pain caused by disc injuries and nerve traction injuries. The paper "Non-pharmacologic Treatment of Neuropathic Pain using Frequency Specific Microcurrent" was published in The Pain Practitioner in Fall 2010.
In 1999, the first 25 cases of fibromyalgia associated with spine trauma were successfully treated. The frequencies used were those described on the list to "reduce inflammation"(40 Hz) in the "spinal cord"(10 Hz). In 2000, a microimmunochemist at NIH (National Institutes of Health) determined that the frequency protocol that reduced pain from a 7.1/10 to a 1.3/10 in 90 minutes also reduced all of the inflammatory cytokines and substance P by factors of 10 and 20 times and raised endorphins by 10 times. Inflammatory peptides called cytokines are known to be very difficult to change with medical therapies and when they change they change very slowly if at all. Changes of this magnitude are not seen with any known medical therapy. "Cytokine changes associated with microcurrent treatment of fibromyalgia associated with cervical spine trauma" was published in 2005.
The use of frequencies and microcurrent to treat new injuries has been demonstrated in one controlled trial. "The use of frequency specific microcurrent therapy in delayed onset muscle soreness" Journal of Bodywork & Movement Therapies (2010). Pain was reduced from a 7/10 in the control group to a .7/10 in the treated group. While there are no published papers on the use of FSM in postoperative healing or injury repair, it is being widely used in the NFL and NHL and by Olympic and elite athletes around the world. FSM has also been shown to be effective in healing peripheral wounds from diabetes or vascular insufficiency.
There is one frequency combination used to treat acute shingles. Patients are generally pain free after 20 minutes treatment and when this protocol is used for 2 to 4 hours the shingles attack is stopped and the pain does not return. This protocol is only effective to treat the active viral infection and is not effective in post herpetic neuralgia, the pain that follows a shingles attack caused by the damage to the nerve caused by the virus. This protocol is not effective to treat any condition other than shingles. "Non pharmacologic treatment of shingles" was published in Practical Pain Management May 2010.
There is one recent multi-center collected case report documenting the effectiveness of FSM in the treatment of dry and wet macular degeneration.
There is a textbook available for those who wish to learn how to use FSM to treat pain conditions. Frequency Specific Microcurrent in Pain Management is published by Elsevier Press, the world's largest medical textbook publisher.
There is one frequency combination found to eliminate the pain associated with kidney stones. So far there have been no treatment failures with this frequency protocol. It has been effective in thousands of cases reported by multiple clinics around the world. Patients report pain reductions from an average 7.5/10 to a 1/10 in 20–60 minutes when treated with one specific frequency combination. FSM practitioners are clinicians and tend not to publish their results but primarily use them to treat patients.
There is one treatment protocol that has been used to treat PTSD since 2005. To date there are no known treatment failures and no known side effects. The treatment protocol is 2 hours long and requires 4 to 8 treatments to alleviate PTSD symptoms regardless of chronicity. There is some data but no published papers in this application.
While it is true that FSM lacks published papers in many areas where it is found to be clinically effective, it is being used more and more in pain and internal medicine clinics and rehab centers all over the world. The documented frequency effects of reducing inflammation and the ability of the current to increase ATP energy production in animal and human studies make it an ideal tool for clinical practice. There have been no documented adverse effects aside from temporary mild skin irritation at the electrode site and a temporary strong euphoric effect found to be rather pleasant by most who experience it.
- "Index of Questionable Treatments". Quackwatch. 20 November 2013. Retrieved 24 November 2013.
- Microcurrent treatment of myofascial pain in the head neck and face" was published in Topics in Clinical Chiropractic Vol 5 (1) 1998
- Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies (2004) 8
- Cheng, Clinical Orthopedics 1982
- Seegers, Medical Hypothesis 2001
- Seegers, Medical Hypothesis 2002
- Non-pharmacologic Treatment of Neuropathic Pain using Frequency Specific Microcurrent" was published in The Pain Practitioner in Fall 2010
- Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies (2005) 9, 169–176
- JBMT 2010
- Practical Pain Management May 2010
- Chaikin, Fall 2015, Journal of Clinical Ophthalmology
- Frequency Specific Microcurrent in Pain Management, Textbook for practitioners, McMakin, Elsevier Science Press, Edinburgh, 2010