Do Mangets Actually Work to Relieve Pain?
Magnets do produce energy in the form of magnetic fields which is generated by the spin of electrons within the material itself.
Though I was aware of their popularity, I was recently surprised to learn that magnets represent a multi-billion dollar industry–they are marketed with claims of effectiveness for reducing pain of various origins (Norwalk, 2006).
How Do Magnets Relieve Pain?
One theory proposes that magnetic fields promote an increase in blood flow through the skin and the subcutaneous muscular tissues which reduces pain (Trock et al, 2000).
What Does the Current Evidence Suggest?
A recent meta-analysis (Pittler et al, 2007) compared the results of 29 potentially relevant clinical trials. They concluded, “the meta-analysis suggested no significant effects of static magnets for pain relief relative to placebo.”
[box type="note"]If the latest clinical evidence suggests that they are ineffective for pain relief, then why are they so popular? Perhaps this can be explained by a combination of effective marketing and the placebo effect.[/box]
- Trock DH. Electromagnetic fields and magnets: investigational treatment for musculoskeletal disorders. Rhem Dis Clin North AM 2000;26:51-62.
- Pittler MH, Brown EM, Ernst E. Static magnets for reducing pain: systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized trials. CMAJ. 2007 Sep 25;177(7):736-42.