Researchers say magnets for pain are a multibillion dollar industry and have been incorporated into arm and leg wraps, mattress pads, necklaces, shoe inserts, and bracelets. They are marketed for reducing pain from a variety of causes, and one survey showed up to 28% of people with rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, or fibromyalgia use magnets or wear copper bracelets.
But the research has yet to back up the hype behind the use of magnets for pain.
Magnets No Good for Pain Relief
Researchers analyzed nine previous studies on magnets for pain in which the participants were randomly assigned to receive magnet or a dummy device for pain. Each of the studies rated the effects on pain reduction on standard scale.
The results, published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, showed no significant difference in pain reduction between the groups treated with magnets or the placebo.
Therefore, researcher Max H. Pittler, MD, PhD, of the Peninsula Medical School in Exeter, England, and colleagues say magnets cannot be recommended as an effective treatment for pain.
The only condition for which the evidence did not rule out any hope of a potential effect of magnets on pain was osteoarthritis. Researchers say more research is needed in this area.