Safety

Redness of the skin in contact with the magnet has been reported, but most cases self-resolve within 24 hours of removal of the device. Patients who use cardiac pacemakers, implanted automatic defibrillators, or insulin pumps should not use magnet therapy without consulting their health-care provider.

Some manufacturers warn that magnets can interfere with the pharmacokinetics of transdermal medications, such as pain patches. Although this theory has not been proven, it warrants consideration. 

Cost, How Supplied

The cost of magnet therapy is highly variable. Generally, the cost of the device rises with the quality and strength and varies from as low as $10 to as much as $100 or more. Patients should thoroughly research any product before buying.



Summary

Magnet therapy is still on the outer fringe of any sort of evidence-based practice. However, even the studies that did not show benefit failed to show any negative safety issues. Consequently, health-care professionals should be aware of the emerging data and help their patients make informed decisions regarding magnet therapy.


References

  1. Basford JR. A historical perspective of the popular use of electric and magnetic therapy. Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2001;82:1261-1269.

  2. Boyer TH. The force on a magnetic dipole. Am J Physics. 1988;56:688-692.

  3. Kuipers NT, Sauder CL, Ray CA. Influence of static magnetic fields on pain perception and sympathetic nerve activity in humans. J Appl Physiol (1985). 2007;102:1410-1415. Available at jap.physiology.org/content/102/4/1410.long.

  4. Mayrovitz HN, Groseclose EE. Effects of a static magnetic field of either polarity on skin microcirculation. Microvasc Res. 2005;69:24-27.

  5. McLean M, Engstrom S, Holcomb R. Static magnetic fields 
for the treatment of pain. Epilepsy & Behavior. 2001;2:S74-S80.

  6. Pittler MH, Brown EM, Ernst E. Static magnets for reducing pain: systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized trials. CMAJ. 2007;177:736-742. Available at www.cmaj.ca/content/177/7/736.long.

  7. Colbert AP, Markov MS, Banerji M, Pill AA. Magnetic mattress pad use in patients with fibromyalgia: a randomized double-blind pilot study. J Back Musculoskeletal Rehab. 1999;13: 19-31.

  8. Lee PB, Kim YC, Lim YJ, et al. Efficacy of pulsed electromagnetic therapy for chronic lower back pain: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. J Int Med Res. 2006;34:160-167. Available at imr.sagepub.com/content/34/2/160.long.

  9. Eccles NK. A randomized, double-blinded, placebo-
controlled pilot study to investigate the effectiveness of a static magnet to relieve dysmenorrhea. J Altern Complement Med. 2005;11:681-687.


All electronic documents accessed January 15, 2014.

This article originally appeared on Clinical Advisor