Magnets and Pain Management: How Does it Work and How is it Used?

Magnets have been used for various health conditions including pain management since years. While scientific studies regarding the use of magnet for cure are in progress, magnets have been widely marketed and used as an alternative treatment modality. It is popularly known as magnet therapy and promises to be effective as a cure for a range of painful conditions.

Magnet Therapy In Pain Management

Magnet therapy works on the principle of magnetic field, which is a measurable force produced by magnets. Magnets are made up of metals, their combinations or combinations of metals and non-metals. The unit of measurement of magnetic force is gauss. Magnets used for medical purposes range between 450 and 10,000 gauss and the strength are decided based on the medical condition and related requirements.

Magnet Therapy In Pain Management

Magnets are used for pain management and are a popular treatment method for painful conditions like back pain, knee pain, heel pain, osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia, tennis elbowheadache and myofascial pain. They are also considered useful in pain from injuries to muscles and ligaments of joints or relieving general body soreness.

There are some scientific studies that support the use of magnet therapy in conditions like fibromyalgia, which is generalized muscle pain and diabetic neuropathy, which is painful nerve course in diabetic patients.

Magnets used for medical purposes are available in different shapes and sizes. The most commonly used magnets are coin shaped and the number varies depending on the purpose for which they are used.

How Does Magnets Work As A Pain Reliever?

Magnets are believed to reduce pain when held on the skin around the painful area. When magnets are placed on the skin, there are few proposed ways in which the magnets may be functioning. Some of the proposed theories about their ways of working include:

  • They help to relax the small blood vessels in the area and augment the blood flow around the painful area.
  • They help to improve the oxygen carrying capacity; thus revitalizing the muscles and tissues of the body.
  • They help to relax tensed muscle or prevent muscle spasm, which is mostly the primary cause in most cases of musculoskeletal pain.
  • Another possible way in which they might be helpful is by interfering with the pain transmitting pathways that send message to the brain, thus reducing the feeling of pain.

How Are Magnets Used In Pain Management?

Magnets are used by placing them on the painful area, touching the skin over it. They can be used in plain forms and tied with bandage around the area. Magnets for medical purposes also appear in different forms like belts, pads, braces, jewelry and other varieties used commonly. An appropriate form can be chosen depending on the area that is painful.

There is a wide range of magnetic products, which can be used for pain management in specific conditions. The specific usage instructions depending on the product and the relevant medical condition should be followed.

Magnetic Products Generally Used For Painful Conditions Include:

  • Headache- Magnetic headbands are tied around the head
  • Neck and Shoulder Pain- Magnetic shoulder wraps and neck collars are used.
  • Back Pain- Magnetic back braces, back pads or belts are available to help with back pain.
  • Leg Pain- Magnetic knee braces and ankle support can be used according to the pain.
  • Painful Heels- Magnetic insoles are used to relieve aching heels after long standing hours of work.
  • Tennis Elbow- Magnetic tennis elbow support or bands can be used
  • Magnets for Arthritis- Magnetic belts, pads and braces can be used based on the painful region.

For generalized painful musculoskeletal conditions, body soreness or fibromyalgia, magnetic pillows, mattresses and chairs can also be used for healing and improving sleep.

Safety First- Magnet Therapy as a Complementary Treatment Modality Only

Presently, more research is being conducted on the use of magnet therapy and can be considered only as a complementary modality. The use of magnet therapy for pain should not replace traditional medical management; appropriate diagnosis and conventional treatment has its own importance. Any health concerns should receive medical attention as appropriate following which you can work on complementary methods. Make sure your physician is aware of the complementary treatment modalities that you are using or willing to use. This will help in drawing a safe and effective treatment plan.

Magnets are generally safe when applied on the skin. However, the use of magnets may not be recommended for all; especially in patients who have implants or devices like pacemakers, etc as magnets can interfere with such devices so obtain medical opinion.

Experts with experience in magnet therapy can guide with the use of magnets for pain management. Sometimes, experts also recommend placing magnets on certain specific trigger points like those in acupressure; the time period and duration should be followed as advised. In case appropriate results are not obtained, it is advisable to seek medical advice.

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:December 18, 2018

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