PEMF Therapy to Treat Interstitial Cystitis/Bladder Pain Syndrome

  • days left to enroll
  • participants needed
  • sponsor
    Wake Forest University Health Sciences
Updated on 5 August 2021
pelvic pain
bladder pain
pain disorders


The purpose of this study is to gather information from the investigation of a non-pharmacological (non-drug) treatment known as low frequency pulsed electromagnetic field (PEMF). The study team will be distributing the PEMF therapy to female subjects with Interstitial Cystitis/Bladder Pain Syndrome (IC/BPS) to measure its ability to decrease pelvic pain. The results, from multiple questionnaires and voiding diaries, will be compared when participants are enrolled for treatment, at 4 weeks after using PEMF therapy, and 12 weeks post-enrollment.


Interstitial cystitis/bladder pain syndrome (IC/BPS) is a clinical diagnosis based primarily on chronic symptoms of pain perceived by the patient to emanate from the bladder and/or pelvis associated with urinary urgency or frequency in the absence of another identified cause for the symptoms. Although it is not a life-threatening disease, the chronicity and severity of pain, along with urinary symptoms, causes great impairment in a patient's quality of life. IC/BPS poses as a significant clinical challenge for many reasons. For one, the pathophysiology described in the literature is incompletely determined and likely multi-factorial, including factors such as inflammation, neurovascular dysfunction, ion imbalance, and impaired urothelial cell integrity. Consequently, there are many options for IC/BPS therapy, many of which are driven primarily by patient-reported symptoms. In this regard, IC/BPS patients with moderate to severe pain typically require multi-modal therapy, often resulting in incomplete or no resolution of symptoms. Another clinical challenge is the heterogeneity of the symptoms. While pelvic pain is the distinguishing characteristic, patients with IC/BPS also routinely present with additional urological and non-urological medical symptoms and syndromes. This has led to the description of two specific sub-phenotypes in IC/BPS based on anesthetized bladder capacity (BC), in which patients with BC < 400 cc are more likely to experience severe pain, urgency and frequency (bladder centric sub-phenotype), and patients with BC > 400 cc (non-bladder centric sub-phenotype) have a higher prevalence of non-urological associated syndromes (NUAS) such as fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue symptoms, irritable bowel syndrome, endometriosis and sicca syndrome.

Pulsed Electromagnetic Field (PEMF) therapy may present a promising alternative therapy for IC/BPS. PEMF is a safe, non-invasive, and effective therapy currently used for wound healing, bone-related diseases (osteoarthritis, RA), and chronic pain states (chronic lower back pain, fibromyalgia), the latter of which is frequently associated with IC/BPS as NUAS. Based on Faraday's law, electromagnetic interactions (e.g. PEMF) with biological processes and conditions (e.g. IC/BPS) will theoretically address many of the proposed pathophysiological causes of the condition. While the mechanism(s) of action are not fully understood, PEMF therapy has been shown in several studies (randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled trials) to decrease the output of pro-inflammatory proteins, improve oxygenation of blood and tissue, stabilize transmembrane action potential and ion channels, and stimulate tissue regeneration. Thus, PEMF may provide a safe, non-invasive therapeutic option that would be complementary to, or serve as an alternative for, the treatments that are currently being administered in IC/BPS for pain reduction. Of note, PEMF has demonstrated an excellent safety profile with no associated systemic risks reported to date. Additionally, the application of exogenous PEMF to stimulate the pelvic floor muscle has recently been introduced for treating urge and/or stress urinary incontinence and overactive bladder. Furthermore, if patient safety and efficacy for pain reduction are demonstrated, these feasibility studies will provide the foundation for larger multi-site trials to determine additional parameters regarding the appropriate number of treatments as well as the duration of benefit (pain relief) following treatments.The purpose of this study will be to determine if PEMF therapy in patients with IC/BPS is an effective treatment in reducing pelvic pain.

Condition Interstitial Cystitis, Bladder Pain Syndrome, chronic interstitial cystitis, painful bladder syndrome
Treatment Pulsed Electromagnetic Field (PEMF) Therapy
Clinical Study IdentifierNCT04540887
SponsorWake Forest University Health Sciences
Last Modified on5 August 2021


Yes No Not Sure

Inclusion Criteria

Female patients between 18 and 80 years old
Participants must have already been diagnosed with interstitial cystitis/bladder pain syndrome
Subjects must have a bladder capacity greater than 400 cc
Participants must have scored at least a 6 or higher on Numeric Rating Scale questionnaire
Participants must not have any cognitive disabilities
Participants must not have taken any narcotic medication for at least three months before being enrolled in this clinical trial

Exclusion Criteria

Participants must not have any history of bladder, uterine, ovarian, or vaginal cancer, urethral diverticulum, spinal cord injury, stroke, Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis, spina bifida, radiation cystitis, cyclophosphamide treatment, or genital herpes
Patients cannot have an implanted pace-maker or metal prosthesis
Participants cannot have a urinary tract infection at the time of enrollment or be currently pregnant
Patients must not have a body mass index greater than 40
Clear my responses

How to participate?

Step 1 Connect with a site
What happens next?
  • You can expect the study team to contact you via email or phone in the next few days.
  • Sign up as volunteer to help accelerate the development of new treatments and to get notified about similar trials.

You are contacting

Investigator Avatar

Primary Contact


Preferred Language
Other Language
Please verify that you are not a bot.

Additional screening procedures may be conducted by the study team before you can be confirmed eligible to participate.

Learn more

If you are confirmed eligible after full screening, you will be required to understand and sign the informed consent if you decide to enroll in the study. Once enrolled you may be asked to make scheduled visits over a period of time.

Learn more

Complete your scheduled study participation activities and then you are done. You may receive summary of study results if provided by the sponsor.

Learn more

Similar trials to consider


Browse trials for

Not finding what you're looking for?

Every year hundreds of thousands of volunteers step forward to participate in research. Sign up as a volunteer and receive email notifications when clinical trials are posted in the medical category of interest to you.

Sign up as volunteer

user name

Added by • 



Reply by • Private

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet consectetur, adipisicing elit. Ipsa vel nobis alias. Quae eveniet velit voluptate quo doloribus maxime et dicta in sequi, corporis quod. Ea, dolor eius? Dolore, vel!

  The passcode will expire in None.

No annotations made yet

Add a private note
  • abc Select a piece of text from the left.
  • Add notes visible only to you.
  • Send it to people through a passcode protected link.
Add a private note