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Magnets

By

Denise Millstine

, MD, Mayo Clinic

Last full review/revision Oct 2021
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Evidence and Uses

Magnets, in particular, are a popular treatment for musculoskeletal disorders and neuropathic pain, although data on effectiveness are mixed.

The biologic effect of pulsed electromagnetic therapy is significantly different from that of static magnetic. Some evidence suggests that pulsed electromagnetic therapy may relieve pain. One meta-analysis found relief of neuropathic pain with use of high-frequency repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (3 References Magnet therapy (an energy therapy) utilizes static magnetic fields (constant fields produced by permanent magnets) or pulsed electromagnetic fields (intermittent magnetic fields produced by... read more ). Another study showed improvement in physical function, but not pain or stiffness, in knee osteoarthritis (4 References Magnet therapy (an energy therapy) utilizes static magnetic fields (constant fields produced by permanent magnets) or pulsed electromagnetic fields (intermittent magnetic fields produced by... read more ). Using pulsed electromagnetic fields to speed healing of nonunion fractures is well established.

Possible Contraindications

Possible contraindications for magnets include pregnancy (effects on the fetus are unknown) and use of implanted cardiac devices, an insulin pump, or a drug given by patch.

References

  • 1. Kroeling P, Gross A, Graham N, et al: Electrotherapy for neck pain. Cochrane Database Syst Rev.(8):CD004251, 2013. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD004251.pub5. PMID: 23979926.

  • 2. Pittler MH, Brown EM, Ernst E: Static magnets for reducing pain: systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized trials. CMAJ 177(7):736–42, 2007.

  • 3. Jin Y, Xing G, Li G, et al: High frequency repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation therapy for chronic neuropathic pain: a meta-analysis. Pain Physician18(6):E1029-46, 2015.

  • 4. Chen L, Duan X, Xing F, et al: Effects of pulsed electromagnetic field therapy on pain, stiffness and physical function in patients with knee osteoarthritis: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. J Rehabil Med 16;51(11):821-827, 2019. doi: 10.2340/16501977-2613

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