Food for thought – Magnets

Question: Does anybody know where to get the magnets around Edinburgh? or by post? Could you point to some article/web page/book that explain the working principle behind the use of magnets for RSI? Maybe it destroys the placebo effect for me, but I’d like to know if there is some evidence that these work for some cases of RSI.

Answer 1:  I feel better now! Sorry, but as a physicist I feel I must at least make some grumbles about this. There is no such thing as a “one-sided magnet”. If you had found a magnetic monopole you would be rich enough to pay for all the physiotherapy you needed! I must admit that personally I am dubious about any “magic” effects assigned to magnets, sounds like advertisers taking advantage of desperate sufferers to me. I would suspect that pressure on certain areas alone might be enough to provide some therapeutic effect. Personally I couldn’t stand anything pressing on my sore wrist points. You’ll be telling me next that magnets also prevent limescale build-up in your arteries! (Actually naturally speaking translated that as Windscale, possibly more entertaining!)

Answer 2: I’d tend to agree but there is evidence of magnetic treatments working on lame horses. This rather rules out a placebo effect. As for pressure points, some of the magnetic methods mentioned have involved no more pressure than wearing a watch, the one’s my dad used are like plasters with very small magnets inside. Apparently they feel like plasters too – unless you put one directly on your elbow and lean on it you don’t feel them.

Answer 3: I’m not a physiologist (though I was trained in mathematics/physics – so yes, magnetic monopoles are non sense). But given that blood carries oxygen in its haemoglobin, and given that haemoglobin has iron in it, it’s not entirely absurd that magnets could have some effect (and no-one said ‘magic’, by the way!)… quite *what* effect is another matter altogether. “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio”.

Answer 4: I use a Bioflow magnet and can’t say that I couldn’t live without – but a lot of my clients have these and have found them noticeable when not wearing them. Some places I think allow you to trial these – I only know about Bioflow and can’t comment on any of the other makes.

Answer 5: I found this posted to Sorehand mailing list today – Food for thought: Magnets. I will quote what it says about magnets as it isn’t very long:
Food for thought
A new FDA study being conducted in Tennessee is looking at pain relief and magnets. Doctors report pain is the most common symptom reported not only in the United States; but around the world. Millions of people suffer from pain caused by on the job accidents and injuries, not to mention at home and “weekend” sports activities. This first ever Food and Drug Administration study is looking at the role of magnets, in pain relief. In a presentation I attended on magnets, magnets work by blocking the signal the injured area’s nerves transmit to the brain. There are magnets for your shoes, your mattress, your chair and more. Some people I have talked to who have suffered from pain without relief through conventional therapy swears by the magnets. Some people saw no difference. What I must point out is that magnets are not the cure. But the magnet may make it possible for the injured to function more comfortably. I’ll keep you posted when the study results are released.

I think he must have got confused about who is conducting the study. The FDA don’t conduct research, in general, they scrutinize the research that the manufacturers provide to them when they are seeking FDA approval. I did check it out on the FDA web site but searching on “magnet”, “magnotherapy” and “magnetotherapy” all found nothing. The theory about magnets blocking the signal is I believe the idea behind the Medicur device that was recently discussed. I did a little further searching to see what I could find out about magnets, and I came across an interesting newsletter. Their newsletter has a write-up on a study of magnets in the relief of pain, conducted at the Baylor College of Medicine (US, I presume). The newsletter also has a list of UK magnet suppliers. My philosophy is, if you try something and it helps, go for it. I do think though that some magnet products are extremely overpriced. If anyone is thinking of giving them a try, it might be worth doing some comparison-shopping amongst the suppliers. Magnets are magnets, I believe, so no need to pay over the odds.

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