Case report

Scand J Work Environ Health 1996;22(6):457-458    pdf | Issue date: Dec 1996

Provocation of the electromagnetic distress syndrome

by Toomingas A

Background Many patients in Sweden are today distressed by fears of "electric fields." This phenomenon was almost unknown to occupational health clinics 10 years ago.

Case history and examination A 35-year-old male plumber complained of fatigue, headache, lack of concentration, numbness and paresthesia in his arms, and a greasy feeling in his palms, where he observed tiny shiny spots. These symptoms made him unable to work. It all started after a period of high strain at the work. He feared negative influences, mainly from electric fields. Signs indicating nerve entrapment in the upper extremities were found in a clinical examination.

Provocation study The patient was blindly provocated in a whole-body electromagnetic coil at 34 or 100 µT randomly mixed with sham exposures. After being blinded against irrelevant external cues, he was not able to detect the existence of or any symptoms at either field intensity. He was informed about the results and was later able to return to his previous work.

Conclusions No sensitivity to electromagnetic fields could be objectively verified for this patient, who was suspected to suffer from a thoracic outlet syndrome.