Scientists have studied magnet therapy
for the following health problems:
Several studies report that pulsed electromagnetic fields improve healing of fractures of the long bones of the lower leg (tibia) that have failed to heal properly after several weeks. Pulsed electromagnetic fields may also be useful for fracture healing of the largest bone in the wrist (scaphoid), the foot bones (metatarsals) and the vertebrae, although there is less research in these areas. It is not clear if pulsed electromagnetic fields are equal to or better than other techniques for fracture, such as bone grafting. These procedures should be performed only by qualified specialists and should first be discussed with your health care provider.
Carpal tunnel syndrome
Preliminary research reports that magnet therapy does not improve pain from carpal tunnel syndrome.
Diabetic foot pain
Preliminary research reports reductions in foot burning, numbness, tingling and walking-induced foot pain with the use of static magnetic shoe insoles. Despite weaknesses in the existing research, these findings are promising. Effects are reported to take three to four months to be noted. Better-quality research is necessary to make a firm conclusion.
Preliminary research suggests that magnet therapy, such as the use of magnetic sleep pads, may not be beneficial in fibromyalgia. Further studies are needed to provide a more definitive answer.
Studies of electromagnetic field therapy for multiple sclerosis symptoms have differing results. Well-designed studies are needed to determine a benefit before a conclusion can be drawn.
The results of research on electromagnetic field therapy for osteoarthritis or degenerative joint disease are inconclusive. High-quality studies are needed before a recommendation can be made.
Magnets are used to treat many types of pain. There is early research of static magnets and pulsed electromagnetic therapy for several types of pain, but these results can only be considered preliminary. Better research is needed before a firm conclusion can be drawn. Types of pain that have been studied include muscle symptoms in post-polio patients, chronic refractory pelvic pain, chronic neck pain (using pulsed electromagnetic therapy or magnetic "necklaces"), foot pain in people with diabetes (using magnetic footpads) and chronic back pain (using permanent or harnessed bipolar magnets).
Rheumatoid arthritis pain
Initial evidence has failed to show improvements in knee pain with the use of magnet therapy. However, because of weaknesses in this research, the conclusions cannot be considered definitive.
Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
Most research using magnets for tinnitus is not well designed or reported. Better studies are necessary before a recommendation can be made.
Magnet therapy has been suggested for many other uses, based on tradition or on scientific theories. However, these uses have not been thoroughly studied in humans, and there is limited scientific evidence about safety or effectiveness.
Some of these suggested uses are for conditions that are potentially life-threatening.
Consult with a health care provider before using magnet therapy for any use.
- Achilles tendonitis
- Ankle pain
- Back pain
- Blood flow stimulation
- Cardiovascular disorders
- Cerebral palsy
- Circulatory disorders
- Enhanced cellular metabolism
- Enhanced energy
- Enhanced strength
- Hair loss and Alopecia
- Heel spurs
- High blood pressure
- Immune system stimulation
- Improved athletic performance
- Improved well-being and vitality
- Increased blood circulation
- Jet lag
- Knee pain
- Knee replacement surgery
- Settling prosthetic implants
- Menstrual cramps
- Migraine headache
- Muscle soreness
- Nerve regeneration
- Neurologic disorders
- Obstructive sleep apnea
- Orbicular muscle paralysis
- Peripheral neuropathy
- Respiratory (breathing) disorders
- Restless leg syndrome
- Retinitis pigmentosa
- Soft tissue injuries
- Stress reduction
- Synovitis (a type of arthritis)
- Tennis elbow
- Traumatic reticulitis (a cellular disorder)
- Wound healing
If you have an implantable medical device such as a pacemaker, defibrillator, insulin pump or liver infusion pump, avoid exposure to magnets, as they may affect the way your medical device functions.
Anecdotally, magnets may cause dizziness or nausea or may prolong wound healing or bleeding. Some practitioners discourage the use of magnet therapy during pregnancy or in people with myasthenia gravis or bleeding disorders. Scientific evidence is lacking in these areas.
Magnet therapy is not advised as the sole treatment for potentially severe medical conditions and should not delay diagnosis or treatment with more proven methods. Patients are advised to discuss magnet therapy with a qualified health care provider before starting treatment.