Flux Health Forum

Use of ICES for lower back DDD, spinal stenosis, & extruding discs causing nerve impingement

Hi all,
I’m a new user of ICES (been using the M1 for a week and will be getting the C5 within a few days). I suffer from chronic low back and hip pain that is partially genetic and partially due to years of playing hockey as a goalie and heavy weight lifting. I’m in my early 40s and fit.

I’d love to hear others experiences, successes, failures, and/or tips on the use of ICES for lower back DDD, spinal stenosis, &/or extruding discs causing nerve impingement (I have all 3). I’m less interested in hearing about temporary back strains.

So far I have been doing the following (not all done just for pain as I do them for general health) which keeps me functional:

  • Chiropractic adjustments–mild benefit

  • Physiotherapy (just started)

  • photobiomodulation (red and infrared ~3-foot panel from PlatinumLED)–mild benefit

  • infrared sauna daily and HIIT daily–very beneficial part of my daily routine in the mornings—allows me to function.

  • TENS–temporary relief

  • massage chairs–temporary relief

  • inversion table–likely helps but can’t quantify it.

  • Yoga–helps with balance, flexibility, and strength but increases pain for a day or two

  • Neurofeedback/biofeedback (I’m a practitioner)–doing this for many years with no noticeable effect on pain (but lots of other great benefits with regard to mood and cognitive functioning)

  • Cranial Electrotherapy Stimulation (CES–like Alpha-Stim)–slight pain reducing effect

  • CBD oil–no noticeable effect (take up to 40 mg/day)

  • 1 to 1 ratio THC:CBT oil (indica dominant)–under the tongue–helps sleep–don’t take during day and will only use a few times per week. Note I’m in Canada (Ontario) and cannabis is now legal (I don’t smoke or vape).

  • numerous supplements including: turmeric, ginger, glucosamine/chondroiten/MSM, type-II collagen, pharmaceutical grade omega-3, boswellia, etc.

  • by far the most success I’ve had so far for pain reduction is SAM-e (S-adenosyl methionine…a supplement) which has been shown to be as strong as prescription anti-inflammatories in terms of reducing pain. It takes about 2-3 weeks to kick in. I’ve been on this for years but go off every summer to give my system a break and to check in with regard to how bad my pain is. Not surprisingly, I’m currently off SAM-e which motivated me to look for something and thankfully I found ICES PEMF!

For the past week I’ve been using the M1 for about 18 hours a day (sleep with it and wear it at work but share it with my mother in law who loves it…I just bought her one for herself). I’m using either the 2x2 or the two singles side-by-side using kinesio tape (the latter --side-by-side–seems more effective) and I have played around with the intensity from 7-15 and amprimarily using the Omni-8.

So far I’ve noticed a significant deducting in pain from the ICES M1 (e.g., no longer have to suppress a scream putting on my socks or shoes!). If I had to quantify it, I’d say there has been a 40% reduction in my pain so far which is about on par with SAM-e. I have yet to combine the two as I want to experiment with the M1 and C5 first.

Here is a link to learn more about SAM-e which I can’t encourage enough (along with ICES now) if you struggle with chronic pain: https://examine.com/supplements/s-adenosyl-methionine/

I’d love to hear others’ experiences, successes, failures, and/or tips on the use of ICES (or other modalities) for lower back DDD (degenerative disc disease), spinal stenosis, &/or extruding discs causing nerve impingement (I have all 3).

Looking forward to hearing others thoughts :slight_smile:

Chris Friesen

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OK, this is a topic where I can probably be of some direct assistance because this is precisely the application for which ICES-PEMF technology was developed, and I have a lot of direct, personal experience with very similar lower back problems which (I think) arise from similar activities and genetic predispositions.

First, let me say it is really great that you are carefully and closely looking at this, and intelligently analyzing each factor that might be contributing to your recovery. That will be very helpful for you, as well as anyone you share your findings with.

The best advice I can give you since you just started using ICES-PEMF is that it should be viewed as a way to suppress inflammation and swelling while it is being used, with a few hours of persistence thereafter. It works best if used with a low-dose, persistent-use strategy. I suggest finding a way to use it for as long during the day as you can, 6 to 8 hours or more if possible, every day and/or at night. It is not nearly as effective as a 15-minute, occasional fix.

For me, the pain reduction has been so complete (from a 10++ to a solid 0) that the minor inconvenience of continued use is far more desirable than a return to pain. But many people report to me that if they use ICES-PEMF persistently, daily, and continue on for 2-3 weeks after symptoms have gone, then they no longer need to use the device, or only need to use it occasionally.

I find it helpful to occasionally change between pulse patterns, every few weeks. The ones I currently use most often for back and joint pain are: Omni8, Schumann4, and Alpha Wave. It is best if you occasionally experiment to see what works best for you, keeping in mind that this may change over time.

For the lower back, I use kinesiology tape to tape the coils side by side, and place the coils across (not along) the spine directly over the point of greatest pain. If this is difficult to find, try placing the contact point between the coils slightly above (1-2 cm) the painful area along the spine.

I suggest you set the intensity to 9 or 10 (higher intensities are usually not necessary and often do not work as well).

I suggest you swap batteries to keep one in the charger and a freshly charged battery in the unit, at least once every 2 hours. They can last longer, but performance begins to decline after that. It is best to keep the batteries fresh if you can. The M1 is designed specifically to make battery changes extremely quick and easy.

Also, I find that ICES-PEMF works extremely well synergistically with chiropractic adjustments: the adjustments feel more profoundly effective when they are given, and the adjustment seems to persist much longer if I use ICES-PEMF for about an hour before an adjustment and then for 6-8 hours thereafter. It seems to help stabilize and reinforce the adjustment, and in my experience, helps each adjustment converge more quickly toward a permanent fix.


Hi Bob,
Very helpful information. Thanks so much. I will try what you describe.


would this work in the a9 reprogrammed for brain injury unit?

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my opinion: I think so. The only difference is the pulse pattern (timing between pulses), but so far as I can tell, orthopedic injuries at least seem to respond pretty well to any pulse pattern in that approximate range. But sometimes it helps to change pulse patterns to reduce any habituation, which is not possible with an A9 system because it only has one, pre-programmed pattern.

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so if i had the m1 and it were on the Omni 8 (or matrix), then it would provide that variety that you recommend in the pulse pattern without manually having to change anything? i am looking at how my parents would be using it… set and forget it type usage…

That is the design intent for the different pulse patterns: incorporate enough change to prevent habituation. This usually seems to work pretty well, though it is sometimes (perhaps once every 2-3 months) also helpful to change the pulse pattern entirely.

I usually cycle between:
Alpha Wave


I just ordered an M1 which is on the way for the exact same type of issues. Degenerative and herniated disks in lower back / cervical areas. Slight SLAP tears in right shoulder as well. I’m in mid-40’s and wanting to take another stab at getting more active and strong before getting any older and losing muscle mass, bone density, etc. I’m thankfully still in decent shape by eating good, but the daily "nuisance’ pain and once or twice a year really bad flare ups have kept me out of any active exercise routine for over a decade. My day to day pain and stiffness is tolerable, but general lack of range of motion and fear of pushing my back too much has kept me on the sidelines.

I’ll be happy if the M1 provides some daily pain relief, but should I not expect any actual ‘repair’ of the problem areas? If I’m feeling better with the M1, should I not assume that I can try to be more active than usual because I’m still at the same risk of making any little move that can trigger my typical flare ups?

I realize no one here can diagnose anything, but I’m curious if people have had an experience of healing and benefit beyond feeling better only when using the device (which may be a huge improvement in and of itself). Mast advocates of PEMF do claim tissue / cellular repair is possible.

Thanks and looking forward to contributing more once I start using the device!


Opinions may vary, but I find that the technology really helps me stay active, and when I do hurt myself (inevitably), I am able to recover much more quickly.

The recent nursing study/dissertation on the use of this technology for all types of pain is here:

You can read what many other people have to say about using this technology for pain and increased activity and functionality, how well it works for them, how long it lasts, etc.

Note: this was an IRB-approved descriptive study, and I was strictly not involved in data collection or analysis. The dissertation included all comments and observations whether they were favorable or not.

DISCLAIMER: this is my technology, of course. But this is why I designed/built it in the first place.


Someone recently recommended to me Specialized Pro-Resolving Mediators for inflammation / innate healing boost.

Are you familiar with these? Very expensive, but they highly recommend taking when dealing with pain, pre/post surgery, etc. I’ve been taking for a couple days - we’ll see if I notice anything.

@Dr.Friesen Have you had any success using ICES PEMF for your extruding discs? Looking for more anecdotes as a friend is in a similar position and I am assessing as whether to recommend it for this.

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@SamplesMIA has the M1 had any affect on your degenerative and herniated discs?

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@TajD I had an updated lumbar MRI two months post starting ICES which, unfortunately, relative to my previous MRI ~4-5 years earlier, showed worsening DDD, disc protrusions, and even deterioration of the actual bone (vertebra). This of course was not caused by the ICES treatment. That being said, I still use my M1 daily for almost 24 hours per day. It still works well. I would estimate it reduces my pain and increases my functionality by about 30-40%. I paid an external spine expert (http://chirogeek.com) to review my MRIs and he was amazed that I could function at all. He also predicted more serious problems within the next 10 years which was depressing. But this encouraged me to keep doing what I was doing (minus certain exercises like squats, running, etc.) and to keep using SAM-e and my ICES M1 unit. I walk around with minimal pain (unless I do heavy lifting or walk, stand, or sit for too long). I attribute this primarily to my M1. I encourage anyone with significant back pain (or any long term pain for that matter) to get an M1. I often wish I was aware of a brief video or scientific review article that I could send to people to help convince them. So long story short, I would highly recommend the M1 to your friend. I just wish I knew about this technology earlier. Hope this helps.

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@Dr.Friesen Thanks so much for sharing your experiences. I am sorry that you are in pain and have experienced worsening DDD on the MRI. Pain reduction, even at a minimum, would be a huge plus for my friend, so I will recommend they buy and self experiment with the M1.

I wonder what an MRI would look like for you in 2 years after 24x7 M1 use. Too bad MRIs are so darn expensive.

Are you using the M1 default of OMNI 8 power 9?

Have you tried 850nm infrared therapy (several uses a day for 10-20min per use) as well? Wondering if upregulating energy will further help.

This is the one I bought to use on my joints in parallel to using the M1


@TajD Thanks for the supportive comments. I live in Canada so we don’t have to pay for MRIs directly. I will likely get another one within 5 years.

I also use infrared. I have a similar light at the same nm and I also have a full body panel that combines red light and infrared light (Platinum LED’s BIO-600: https://platinumtherapylights.com/products/bio-rlt?variant=12496929095746). I don’t use them as frequently as you note though. I find they do help but not as much at the M1. I also end up having trouble sleeping when I use the infrared lights too much. But I may consider using my smaller handheld (https://redlightman.com/product/infrared-mini-830/) for shorter frequencies (e.g., 2 x 10 mins/day) like you noted.

I also have infrared head units that I have in my practice (NiagaraNeuropsychology.com) and at home for myself. These are the Vielight Neuro Gamma & Alpha. In addition I use the Vielight 633 nm intranasal unit now daily to help keep my immune system working well (given COVID),

As for the setting I use on the M1, I mix it up. The most effective though are OMNI 8 and C5. But I also use the A9 and P1 (?) settings, again, to mix it up (i.e., prevent habituation). However, overnight I use delta as it’s less likely to negatively effect sleep (and I feel may possibly enhance sleep) AND it uses much less power (i.e., battery) and so lasts the whole night. I keep the intensity at 10.

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For some time years ago I had been concerned that maybe PEMF was just masking pain, and like other “pain killers”, could prompt you to maintain a lifestyle that was damaging tissues.
But since then it became clear to me that much more fundamental healing was taking place, not just pain masking.
This was (once again) verified for me when I got detailed MRIs for my left hip, in late 2019. I asked the MRI technician to see if he could also image my lower spine. He was exceptionally cool and got great images of my hip (as prescribed) and my lower spine (bonus!). I reviewed these in detail with the ortho and my physician, who noted that my most recent detailed lower spine images show degeneration normal for a 50-year-old man… not the tangled mess that had been evident on earlier images.
So, clearly, in my case, there has been a fundamental healing and not just pain masking. It was a slow process, but at least it was a healing process, and not a degenerative process. Personally, I attribute this to (1) ICES-PEMF, (2) supplements, (3) adjusted lifestyle: no more heavy lifting or very heavy physical work, (4) nutrition, and (5) time, about 6 or 7 years.


Bob: Some time ago I had asked about any physical lumbar improvement from the ICES, and now you have it “in MRI writing”!

I am fused from C3 to T1, and it only took six years before I had deterioration below one surgery and needed another Right now only C1 to C3 is not fused, and it does not look “pretty”. Compared to your healing, I am unsure if I could achieve anything with ICES but to lessen the rate of deterioration by reducing inflammation (I am 71).

I have the A9 which I am using every night on the C1 - C3 area. As a best guess, do you think that switching to an M1 and using different frequencies would provide any significant benefit above using the A9?


just a general observation of pemf and varying degrees of success with using… in particular with bone, joint muscle, etc repair…a variable that might need to be accounted for is raw material/nutrition available for the body to use/optimize. when we consider the facts that 1. 1/3 of our protein is made from collagen; 2. that we lose about 1% production of collagen after age of (as early as 20) 25; 3. collagen is also used/depleted by external/environmental/stress factors; and 4. collagen sources from food aren’t as abundant in standard diet… maybe supplementation of nutrition/raw materials (such as collagen and other nutrients body may be deficient in) can enhance healing.

i personally get my collagen boost (evident in my skin, hair, nails, joints, etc health since taking) from organic silica sources… biosil is one such source, but a literally dirt cheap and effective source has been good grade de (diatomaceous earth)…

afterall, the body can only work with what it has available onhand

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Good suggestion. I have a big bottle in the closet.

I don’t think you need to spend the extra money on an M1. Most of my personal recovery has been with an A9 or earlier generation, so my best guess is that should be sufficient. If you happen to have an M1, it is nice to be able to control intensity with finer granularity, and switch between pulse patterns to see if anything works a bit better. But I don’t think it is necessary.