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Magnet Therapy

March 23, 2010

We all know that braces provide additional support to joints that are injured or stricken with degenerative diseases such as arthritis. While the brace is undoubtedly a necessary measure in treatment, there is more that can be done. For centuries, cultures around the globe have utilized magnets in medicine, and now there are peer-reviewed studies that support this practice.

A magnetic knee brace gives you the added stability of a traditional knee brace while also taking advantage of therapeutic magnet therapy. Because there are charged particles in our body that are constantly creating magnetic fields, the magnet is able to interact with these ions to achieve a harmonic balance. This increases blood flow and helps relieve pain and swelling.



12 Responses to “Magnet Therapy”

  1. MD_Dave says:

    “This increases blow flow and helps relieve pain and swelling”

    Typo, should read:

    “This increases blow fly and helps relieve pain and swelling”

    Seriously, don’t waste your money on magnets they don’t work, it’s just snake oil.

    Source:
    Richmond SJ, et al. Therapeutic effects of magnetic and copper bracelets in osteoarthritis: a randomised placebo-controlled crossover trial. Complement Ther Med. 2009 Oct-Dec;17(5-6):249-56. Epub 2009 Aug 28.

    If you want to acheive “harmonic balance” buy a harmonica. If you want to releive pain and inflammation try loosing weight and consult your physician.

  2. Most people I come across believe that magnetic therapy is snake oil. I don’t blame them I was skeptical once as well. However I have been in the orthopedic industry for fifteen years and I have seen magnets consistently heal non-union fractures. A non-union fracture is any fracture that has not shown signs of calcification (healing) for 3 to 6 months. I have also met well-educated individuals who claim that magnets make their arthritis feel better.

    Learn more about magnetic knee braces.

    If you don’t want to believe the guy running the blog, then how about Harvard? Harvard concluded that magnets showed “statistically significant efficacy” compared to a placebo group in treating pain associated with OA. University of Texas proved that magnets appear to reduce pain and enhance function in arthritic knees.

    I am not saying that magnets will cure OA. I am not saying that magnets alone will relieve all of the pain associated with knee OA. However I am saying that magnets will make the arthritic knee feel better. And if a patient wearing a brace can walk a little farther or exercise a little longer because of the magnets in their brace, then that patient will be able to lose weight and exercise more effectively. Please keep in mind that magnets are like any other treatment option for knee OA, they will not work for everyone.

    Magnets should be considered as part of a treatment program, not the entire treatment program. I welcome your feedback, however I hope that if you respond and try to be clever, that you try a little harder. “Blow fly” come on, really?

  3. MD_Dave says:

    1) The trial by Harvard found no statistically significant difference in pain, stiffness or physical function between magnet and placebo groups after patients had worn magnets on the knee for 6 weeks. What they did find was a difference between groups in pain after 4 hours, although this disappeared afterwards. The whole paper was pretty much based upon this one finding, which was one of many tests and probably just a chance finding. All statistics are based on probability. Run a test 20 times and one will come up positive due to chance alone.

    2) The trial by the University of Texas compared magnets versus non magnets – the researchers admitted that patients could tell the difference. So the ‘positive’ results can be attributed to inadequate research methods and the placebo effect.

    I still say its snake oil.

    Nothing against braces to get a person moving. Best advice always for osteoarthritis is if you are overweight (most people with osteoarthritis are) then loose it. Eat less – do more. Take the stress off the joints and then perhaps you can live without braces.

  4. Thank you for the response, Dr. Dave. We agree that weight loss will absolutely make an arthritic knee feel better. Losing just 15 lbs can decrease pain by half! Learn more.

    Here’s one more study for you, this one conducted in London. Researches conducted a comprehensive analysis of studies on magnet therapy and concluded, “The weight of evidence from published, well-conducted controlled trials suggests that static magnetic fields are able to induce analgesia.” Learn more.

    A neoprene knee sleeve will provide warmth and compression to an arthritic knee. The skin is the largest organ in the body. The proprioceptive benefits of neoprene are well documented. Increased blood flow to an arthritic knee is a good thing. Add magnets and some patients may benefit even more.

    I understand and appreciate your skepticism. If you are looking for a knee OA treatment option that is clinically proven and will produce results you can see on an X-Ray, then I recommend looking into a bio-mechanical knee brace. Bio-mechanical knee braces will produce condylar separation – a bio-mechanical solution to a bio-mechanical problem. I’ve seen instant pain-relief using this modality in patients for over a decade. Have you ever tried a bio-mechanical knee brace?

  5. MD_Dave says:

    I think that we pretty much agree in other respects, just not on magnets.

    The London review by Dr Eccles, was a critical (not systematic review). Dr Eccles has a private clinic in which he offers a variety of unproven treatments. He also has ties with MagnoPulse, a leading manufacturer and retailer of magnets. I’m not questionning his objectivity though!

    However it does seem strange that latest and most comprehensive systematic review on magnets came to a very different conclusion: “The evidence does not support the use of static magnets for pain relief, and therefore magnets cannot be recommended as an effective treatment. For osteoarthritis, the evidence is insufficient to exclude a clinically important benefit, which creates an opportunity for further investigation.”

    Let’s not be selective.

    Source:
    Pittler M.H. et al. Static magnets for reducing pain: systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized trials. CMAJ, Sept 25, 2007, 117(7): 736-742.

  6. I’m glad we agree that weight loss and exercise are two of the more important factors in relieving pain associated with knee osteoarthritis.

    In regards to magnets here are 18 more studies showing positive results in regards to treating OA with magnets. Clearly magnets work for some people. A magnetic knee brace is a low-cost treatment option for OA that does not tax the health care system or jeopardize the health of patients. Nobody has ever died from a knee brace. People die from medication and surgery.

    What would you recommend for a patient looking to avoid surgery and medications with knee OA to help them exercise longer? Possibly the patient is diabetic, has gastro-intenstinal problems commonly associated with NSAID’s, or they are poor surgical candidates. What would you recommend to get them up and moving so they can start losing weight, strengthening their quads, and possibly getting more from their physical therapy? Further if a patient presented to you and explained that a magnetic knee brace made their knee feel better would you instruct that patient to stop wearing the brace? If so, why?

  7. MD_Dave says:

    Again, no objection to knee braces, only unfounded claims for the effectiveness of static magnets which state that:

    “Because there are charged particles in our body that are constantly creating magnetic fields, the magnet is able to interact with these ions to achieve a harmonic balance. This increases blow [blood] flow and helps relieve pain and swelling.”

    This is pseudoscience – there is no convincing evidence that static magnets increase blood flow in humans, relieve pain, or alleviate swelling. Most of the 18 studies you refer to relate to pulsed electromagnetic field therapy – which is not what this advert for magnetic knee braces relates to. Some of the studies also concern rats – people are not rats.

    The placebo effect can have a remarkable effect on pain perception – but that doesn’t mean to say that magnetic knee braces are effective. You could get the same result if you convinced people that smearing their joints in goose fat had the same benefits – or even perhaps wearing a baking foil hat to block out harmful cosmic energy. These would also be a lot cheaper.

    We should at least have the decency to present people who are desperate to relieve their pain with a balanced over-view of the research evidence. Not just the poorly conducted studies that appear to show an effect. Most people who have arthritis are adults – they should not be fed fairy tales in order to sell a product. That could be viewed as exploitation of the sick and gullible.

    It would not be appropriate to offer advice regarding specific treatment options without speaking to each patient – which is why I recommend that people with osteoarthritis consult their physician – rather than commercial websites.

    If people want to use magnets and believe that they help then great! I have no problem with that.

    From your replies it is obvious that you have the interests of people with OA in mind, in which case presenting them with a balanced overview of the research evidence (or rather lack of it) will enable them to make their own informed decisions and earn you a lot of respect.

  8. The New England Journal of Medicine in July of 2002 published a study on treating knee osteoarthritis with arthroscopic knee surgery. The study found the surgery to be no more effective than placebo. Yet this surgery is still performed on over 600,00 patients per year in our country. I trust the manufacturers I work with a lot more than most doctors.

    I’ve seen orthopedic surgeons bully patients into unnecessary surgeries. I’ve been asked by physicians, “what’s in it for me”? Meaning why should they prescribe my products if they don’t profit financially from writing the script, regardless of the science behind it. I have had doctors, the very people you recommend “sick and gullible” people go see ask me for high-end fishing poles, cash, dinners, travel expenses, catering for their offices, text books, and other “gifts” for them to prescribe the supplements, braces, surgical instruments, and rehab equipment I’ve represented over the years.

    Common sense dictates that if magnets were not effective most companies that work with magnetic therapy would be out of business. Clearly you have no interest in using magnets to treat your patients. There is no money it for you, you risk scorn from your peers, and you don’t want to understand how it works. Patients die from surgery. Patients die from COX II Inhibitors. Patients die from NSAIDs. Nobody dies from knee braces or magnetic therapy. It is a low-cost treatment option. If the braces don’t work they can be returned.

    Some patients are fortunate enough to have honest, intelligent physicians. Some are not that fortunate. The manufacturers I work with are reputable, they make effective products, and care about the people who wear and/or use their products. Because of this, they also turn a profit. Not all companies are evil and not all physicians are trustworthy.

    Here are several articles relating to magnetic therapy and blood circulation.

    Patients need to research their condition, consult their physicians, and make up their own minds. Testimonials.

    In the course of this dialogue I have given you links to studies on knee OA and magnetic therapy, links to studies on blood circulation and magnetic therapy, and testimonials from doctors and patients who have tried and enjoyed success using magnets to treat OA. It works for some people.

    What do you recommend for patients looking to lose weight and help ease the pain of their knee OA? I understand your recommendations are patient-specific but certainly you follow a treatment protocol. What do you usually recommend? Also, when was the last time a sales rep bought you a meal?

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