Who knew people would be printing money by selling magnets? It is figured that nearly $5 billion has been spent worldwide on magnets to treat pain conditions. With the claims of efficacy of magnets to treat chronic pain massively increasing over the years, their popularity doesn’t seem likely to fade any time soon.
If you do a little research, you will come to realize that magnets have a rich historical and medicinal background. They have been utilized extensively for medical purposes and for their healing properties’ tracing back to the 1500s (or even longer!).
They are still popularly considered useful for treating various types of pain and promoted in the form of magnet bracelets and a variety of other accessories. You might be amazed that the magnet stuck on your refrigerator for the past decade is a trending medical marvel, but let’s dive into the magnetic nitty-gritty.
There are two types of magnets. One is the static magnet that has a constant magnetic field (yes, the one of your refrigerator), and then there is the electromagnet which generates magnetic field only when you pass an electric current through them. The magnetic field generated by these electromagnets is claimed to have a pain-relieving effect in chronic illness.
The interest in magnets developed due to the increased body of knowledge on how the electromagnetic force interacts at the cellular level. Advocates have proposed many ways in which magnets could work on our body. Studies have shown that the magnetic field created by magnets can help relieve back pain or knee pain in conditions such as fibromyalgia or arthritis. Other clinical studies go on to explain that by placing magnets in close contact with the painful areas in the body that the electromagnetic field that is created can alter and modulate the activity of several components in the body, mainly the nerve cells which carry positive and negative charges throughout the body. Nerve cells are electrical cells which the magnetic fields can obstruct effectively blocking pain signals.
Not quite! Recent research studies that were conducted to determine the therapeutic effects of wearing copper and magnetic bracelets did not show any substantial effect in reducing pain and inflammation in osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis patients. Hence, wearing magnets showed no purposeful therapeutic effect.
The World Health Organization has reported that magnetic fields of low intensity (up to 2 Tesla = 20,000 G) appears to be safe and can be considered for regular use. The ones which are sold are much weaker in strength.
Although complications are rare, complaints of side effects in some individuals, such as pain, dizziness, nausea have been reported. However, magnets are not considered safe for patients using pacemakers or insulin pumps as it may impede the working of the medical device. Also, since its effects are not completely known, pregnant women should also restrict its use.
Many clinical research studies supporting the use of magnets for treating chronic pain prove to be futile and limited. Many demonstrated too much ambiguity in terms of the quality and consistency of their results, with too few participants and too short a duration. Also, the majority of the research proved to have no statistically significant effect on pain. We must note, however, that research studies oftentimes have limited ‘generalizability’, which is to say that the research conditions are so restrictive that it precludes the detection of actual real-world effects. Perhaps, magnet therapy does have some benefits that scientific observation cannot and has not been able to detect.
While clinical studies have not yet provided any solid platform for magnets in treating chronic pain, and claim that further extensive research is certainly necessary to satisfactorily investigate its efficacy, others are making hay while the sun shines – marketing the therapeutic efficacy of magnets for treating chronic pain. Products include magnetic sleeping masks, magnet therapy pads and even magnetic therapy insoles.
Well if you do consider using magnets for chronic pain make sure you talk to your health care professional for examining the cause of your pain. Remember: pain is a symptom of a deeper, underlying problem – always consult a medical professional and use alternative remedies as a complement to traditional treatment methodologies. Just as a painkiller works for one individual and may be ineffective on others, there are numerous complementary alternatives available to work out the possible treatments for you.
To read more posts on natural cures for chronic pain, click here.