Specific Frequency Microcurrent for
Fibromyalgia and Myofascial Pain - January 2006
There are many ways to treat
myofascial pain, and many ways to treat fibromyalgia. Very few
of them can get at the cause of these conditions at the molecular
level. One of the best treatments that I have found is
specific frequency microcurrent (SFM).
Your body uses very small amounts of
current, in millionths of an ampere (an ampere is a measure of the
movement of electrons past a certain point), to increase cell wall
permeability, stimulate the critical protein production and promote
ATP (natural biochemical energy) availability (Cheng 1982). This
helps to promote cellular healing and facilitates many metabolic
processes. This amount of current is smaller than needed to
stimulate your sensory nerves, so you cannot feel it, but the
conductance meter on the machine can record it.
In 1994, Drs. Carolyn McMakin and
George Douglas started using specific frequencies of microcurrent
that had been researched by Harry Van Gelder, DO, for use on
individual conditions and different tissues. If the specific
frequencies were used on the tissues or conditions specified,
changes in tissues occurred rapidly. These changes, often
immediate, included range of motion, softening of tissues, reduction
of nerve and muscle pain and inflammation. The frequencies
were specific. That is, they did not work on other tissues or
conditions. Eventually, Dr. McMakin developed specific
protocols of frequency programs that were most effective for a
variety of conditions and uses them at the Fibromyalgia and
Myofascial Pain Clinic in Tigard, Oregon, near Portland. I
visited her and Dr. Deborah Cherachanko for two weeks in 2005.
I had already experienced the healing effects of SFM. I knew
it worked. I also knew that I had many complex long-standing
conditions that I knew about and wondered how this therapy could
deal with them all. I was also concerned about the effect the
long trip from New Hampshire would have on the body-wide myofascia
trigger points and the central sensitization of fibromyalgia. There
is a reasonable hotel within walking distance across the parking lot
from the clinic, with the bonus of sufficient practice space for my
Dr. McMakin has developed a unique
method to deliver electrical stimulation to her patients. She has
been able to treat successfully the large sheets of fibrosis that
may be found in patients with both FMS and CMP and believes that the
microcurrent therapy she has developed restores harmony and balance
to patients with both of these conditions (McMakin, 1998). This
microcurrent is delivered through graphite/vinyl gloves she wears,
or can be carried from one wet graphite vinyl glove through a wet
towel or sheet through the body to the other side and another wet
towel or sheet and the other glove. The therapy program will
work on the tissue or condition specified and work at the molecular
level. This means the therapy is working at the cause of the
problem and not just the symptoms.
This form of therapy works quickly,
with minimum discomfort and often a rapid result. Patients feel a
sudden release of stress and tension in the damaged muscles.
This therapy can be wonderful for scar tissue. Other therapies
for releasing this can be incredibly painful and time consuming, as
tight tissue is torn away from the surfaces to which it has
adhered. I could actually feel the tissue soften and “melt” under
the microcurrent gloves. Therapy had to proceed carefully, as
joints and nerves can become very painful if the range of motion in
the muscle, ligaments and tendons improves suddenly. Deep
tissues, especially very deep ligaments, that are difficult or
impossible to reach manually with other techniques can be reached
with this therapy
Microcurrent devices are covered
under the same Food and Drug regulations that cover TENS units.
Specific frequency microcurrent has been shown to effectively and
substantially reduce proinflammatory cytokines and improve beta
endorphin release in cases of fibromyalgia that occur after
post-cervical trauma (whiplash). (McMakin CR, Gregory WM, Phillips
TM 2005). It has been shown to be effective in the treatment of
myofascial low back pain (McMakin CR 2004) and myofascial pain in
the head, neck and face (McMakin CR 1998).
Dr. McMakin has found several
subtypes of FMS, and each responds to different frequencies. The
patient feels little but warmth and tissue softening during the
treatment, but after an average of about 11 treatments, her patients
had a lasting reduction of pain even after one or more traditional
treatments had failed. Different frequencies may be more specific
for fibrosis, scarring, central pain, etc. There is no pressure.
She finds the right sequence of frequencies and can feel the tissue
relax and the TrPs “melt.” The TrPs do not disappear, but are
more “available” for treatment by manual therapy. She has
found about 20 combinations of frequencies that she uses on a
regular basis, and she has seen changes she believes to be permanent
in the myofascial tissue. Range of motion seems to increase in all
patients but has not been quantified. There is a post-treatment
“detox” that starts about 90 minutes after the treatment, which can
last for 24 hours. This includes a flu-like ache, nausea and a
temporary increase in pain. This can be moderated by water and
I returned home with substantial
improvement. With the lengthening of my very tight iliopsoas
and dural tissue, I was an inch and a half taller when I returned
than when I left, measured on my primary care physician’s scale.
This is measurable improvement. I also had purchased a small
SFM unit of my own. It is time-consuming, as some of the protocols
can take over 70 minutes, but the myofascial pain protocol is only
20 minutes. When I use this therapy, I know I am working on
the cause of the symptoms and not just covering them up. The
tissues are becoming more and more available as they separate and
get back into better, more healthy alignment. For someone with
complex and long-standing conditions, good health won’t return
overnight. This is just one part of my treatment regimen, but
I can look forward to steady progress, and I am very grateful for
the work Dr. McMakin has done. I heartily recommend this treatment.
Dr. McMakin has been giving seminars on this therapy to many care
providers and has taught it in cities across the world. You
may be able to find a FSM care provider near you.
For a review of Dr. McMakin's book Frequency Specific Microcurrent in Pain Management, click Here.
For more on this treatment, visit
or contact Dr. Carolyn McMakin, 6956 SW Hampton Street, Tigard OR
97223, phone 503-443-6100; fax 503-443-1280
Cheng N 1982. The effect of
electric currents on ATP generation: Protein synthesis and membrane
transport in rat skin. Clin Ortho 171:264-272.
McMakin, CR. Frequency Specific Microcurrent in Pain Management. London: Churchill Livingstone Elsevier. 2011.
McMakin CR, Gregory WM, Phillips TM
2005. Cytokine changes with microcurrent treatment of
fibromyalgia associated with cervical spine trauma. J
Bodywork Move Ther 9:169-176.
McMakin CR 2004. Microcurrent
therapy: A novel treatment method for chronic low back myofascial
pain. J Bodywork Move Ther 8:143-153.
McMakin C. 1998. Microcurrent
treatment of myofascial pain in the head, neck and face.
Top Clin Chiro 5(1):29-35.
Note: Devin J.
Starlanyl has no personal interest in this clinic or this therapy,
other than to educate patients in treatment options.
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