Magnet Therapies Appear Ineffective for Muscle Soreness and Back Pain, But May Reduce Pain in Knee Osteoarthritis
En Español (Spanish Version)

Magnet therapy is an alternative therapy that is believed to alter magnetic fields on our bodies to assist in healing. The magnet therapy ranges from pieces taped to the body to the newer more complex devices only used with medical supervision. Therapy practioners claim to be able to address health issues from joint pain, to wound healing, migraines , and fatigue, just to name a few. Although there is evidence that the therapy has been used for centuries, there is little scientific evidence to support the claims.

Researchers from the Focus in Alternative and Complementary Therapies , reviewed several previous studies on magnet therapy. Results for treating low back pain , muscle soreness, and knee joint pain were collected from the various studies. The therapy did not appear helpful in muscle soreness or low back pain, but demonstrated some pain relief in cases of knee osteoarthritis .

About the Study
The researchers used a systematic review to gather results from multiple studies and assess the accumulated results. In all of the studies reviewed, one group had the magnet therapy and a second group had a placebo treatment with very weak or non-magnetic devices.

In a review of muscle soreness:

  • Three randomized trials with 88 patients were reviewed for delayed onset muscle soreness.
  • There were no significant differences between treatment and placebo group in any trial.
In a review of low back pain:

  • Three trials with 146 patients with low back pain were reviewed.
  • Two trials found no significant differences between treatment and placebo group.
  • One trial suggested significant differences but there were problems with the methods used in the study which may have influenced the study.
In review of pain in osteoarthritis in the knee:

  • Four trials were evaluated.
  • Three out of the four trials reported significant difference.
  • These studies also proved to have methods that could introduce bias to the results and make them inaccurate.
How Does This Affect You?
Further research may be needed for magnet therapy for knee osteoarthritis, but it appears to be ineffective for back pain and muscle soreness. Most complementary and alternative therapies have very few regulations. As a result, there are many false claims about treatment effectiveness.

Before investing in complementary or alternative treatments, discuss them with your doctor. Your doctor may have information on effective treatments, reputable practitioners, and hazards you need to be aware of.




RESOURCES:
American Academy of Family Physicians


References:
Pittler MH. Static magnets for reducing pain. Arch Focus Altern Complement Ther . 2008;13:5-6.

Last Reviewed August 2008



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