Magnetic products to alleviate pain associated with neurological conditions and even cancer is a multi-million dollar industry in the United States alone.
Multiple studies on these products have found people claiming to have experienced a reduction in pain. But a clear-cut evidence on the effectiveness of the bracelet is yet to be found.
What Is A Magnetic Bracelet And How Can It Help?
A magnetic bracelet, as the name implies, is a device that can be worn like a bracelet. Wearing such a bracelet for extended periods of time is believed to help relieve pain associated with arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome, and other chronic painful conditions.
A 2004 study that included over 200 people with osteoarthritis found that using a magnetic bracelet for 12 weeks helped alleviate pain and other symptoms. However, whether the pain relief was experienced due to a placebo effect or an actual benefit remains unknown.1
In another study at the National Institute Of Health (NIH) in 2007, some participants reported pain relief after using magnetic devices. However, the evidence was not conclusive enough to recommend the use of magnetic devices.2
NIH maintains that there are no known benefits of using magnetic devices, bracelets included.
If the patient finds comfort in wearing a magnetic device, they may do so after consulting their doctor. Although NIH doesn’t specifically ask people not to use them, it advises people to not use magnets in place of conventional treatment methods to avoid a doctor visit.3
When Should You Not Use Them?
The reported strength of a magnetic bracelet is around 300 to 5,000 gauss, which is much higher than the earth’s magnetic field on humans and less than that of an MRI machine. Any individual who is otherwise healthy can use a magnetic bracelet for extended periods.
However, people who use pacemakers or an insulin pump must avoid magnetic devices at all costs. The relative magnetic strength of a magnetic bracelet is more than enough to interfere with the working of these devices and can prove to be fatal.
It is also important to remember that for more serious conditions or for chronic pain, it is best to follow a doctor’s treatment plan. Complementary therapies such as magnetic bracelets cannot replace conventional medicine.
Other Approaches For Treating Pain
Traditionally, steroidal and non-steroidal drugs have been used to address pain. But these are only symptom relievers and do not address the problem itself.4
Treatment paths rarely work unless the source of the problem is identified. So the first step to addressing pain of any kind is identifying the underlying cause. Is it a migraine? Is it neurological in nature? Could it be arthritis?
Once the underlying cause has been identified, a few modes of alternative steps can be tried alongside medical intervention. These, in particular, have shown promise in treating pain:
- Exercise and movement can help alleviate pain in several cases. It’s important, however, to remember that over-exercising can be counterproductive.5
- Mind-body intervention, the practice of using meditation, relaxation, and focused exercise as a way to alleviate pain, is gaining popularity.6
- Chiropractic intervention is something you could try. It has been found helpful in dealing with pain associated with fibromyalgia.7
- Root extracts of hibiscus, applied as an oil, can help with severe joint pains. Even some Croton species are effective in treating pains in general.8
- Poppy has always been known to alleviate pain. Extracts of opium are often used to treat pain seen in postherpetic neuralgia and even cancer. However, the use of medical-grade opioids is strictly regulated.9
A Brief History Of Magnetic Therapy
Magnetic therapy has been used for centuries.
- Historically, the Greeks, Egyptians, and Chinese have all recorded the use of magnets for healing purposes.
- During the Renaissance, healers in Europe and Asia used magnets to treat infections and chronic pains. They seemed to believe that magnets could pull out disease from the body.
But the faith in magnets slowly faded with advances in medicine in the 1800s.10
Magnetic therapy came back into the limelight in the 1970s when scientist Dr. Albert Roy Davis claimed that magnetic energy could relieve arthritis pain, kill malignant cells, and even treat infertility. Dr. Davis comprehensively studied the effects of magnetism on biology, starting from the smallest animals and moving on to humans.11 However, much of the conclusions were actually hypotheses and further research couldn’t prove the efficacy of magnets.
|↑1||Harlow, Tim, Colin Greaves, Adrian White, Liz Brown, Anna Hart, and Edzard Ernst. “Randomised controlled trial of magnetic bracelets for relieving pain in osteoarthritis of the hip and knee.” Bmj 329, no. 7480 (2004): 1450-1454.|
|↑2||Pittler, M. H., E. M. Brown, and E. Ernst. “Static magnets for reducing pain: systematic review and meta‐analysis of randomised trials.” Focus on Alternative and Complementary Therapies 12, no. s1 (2007): 39-39.|
|↑3||Magnets, National Institutes Of Health|
|↑4, ↑5, ↑6||J.B. LaValle, The Cox-2 Connection: Natural Breakthrough Treatment for Arthritis, 2001, Healing Arts Press.|
|↑7||Schneider, Michael, Howard Vernon, Gordon Ko, Gordon Lawson, and Jerome Perera. “Chiropractic management of fibromyalgia syndrome: a systematic review of the literature.” Journal of manipulative and physiological therapeutics 32, no. 1 (2009): 25-40.|
|↑8||Iwalewa, E. O., L. J. McGaw, V. Naidoo, and J. N. Eloff. “Inflammation: the foundation of diseases and disorders. A review of phytomedicines of South African origin used to treat pain and inflammatory conditions.” African Journal of Biotechnology 6, no. 25 (2007).|
|↑9||Calixto, Joao B., Alessandra Beirith, Juliano Ferreira, Adair RS Santos, Valdir Cechinel Filho, and Rosendo A. Yunes. “Naturally occurring antinociceptive substances from plants.” Phytotherapy research 14, no. 6 (2000): 401-418.|
|↑10||Basford, Jeffrey R. “A historical perspective of the popular use of electric and magnetic therapy.” Archives of physical medicine and rehabilitation 82, no. 9 (2001): 1261-1269.|
|↑11||Davis, Albert Roy, and Walter C. Rawls. “Magnetism and its effects on the living system.” Exposition Press, 1974.|