Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Hand FAQ

Question:

I've been thinking about trying magnets to help my carpal tunnel syndrome. My brother says they really helped his feet (he has neuropathies from diabetes). If he's a believer, I'm willing to try it. What can you tell me about them?

Answer:

Magnet therapy (also known as magnetic therapy involves the use of electromagnetic devices or permanent static magnets. The magnets or magnetic devices are placed on various parts of the body for health benefits. Magnets are sold in many forms such as bracelets and jewelry; straps for the wrists, ankles, and back; and shoe inserts. They even come in mattresses and can be woven into blankets. In some places, magnetized water is sold for internal magnetic therapy. The idea is that pain (and other symptoms) can be relieved by subjecting certain parts of the body to magnetic fields produced by these permanent magnets. So far, there is a lack of any real evidence that magnet therapy can improve health or speed up the body's natural healing process. The magnets used are too weak to have any measurable effect on blood flow. There is inconclusive evidence that using them for carpal tunnel syndrome or diabetic neuropathies is helpful. This is not to say that studies haven't been done. There are several studies specifically related to magnets and nerve pain. But experts who have taken a closer look at the studies say that they are flawed and an unreliable source of information. High-quality studies that have been approved as reliable by statistical experts show no benefit from magnet therapy. In fact, several companies producing and selling magnets with claims of improving circulation, reducing nerve pain, or treating effects of diabetes have been barred from making these false claims by the Federal Trade Commission. The bottom line is that there is no scientific evidence that static magnets can relieve pain or change the course of any disease. Many of today's magnetic devices don't even generate enough of a magnetic field to be measurable at (or below) the skin's surface. There may be a placebo effect of any alternative treatment such as magnet therapy. This means the patient believes it will work, so they see improvements in their symptoms or overall health. If you are under the care of a medical doctor, make sure there isn't a medical reason why you shouldn't use magnet therapy before trying it. Fareeha Shuttari-Khan, MPH. AAOS Adopts CTS Clinical Treatment Guidelines. In AAOSNow. October 2008. Vol. 2. No. 10. Pp. 1, 10.

*Disclaimer:* The information contained herein is compiled from a variety of sources. It may not be complete or timely. It does not cover all diseases, physical conditions, ailments or treatments. The information should NOT be used in place of visit with your healthcare provider, nor should you disregard the advice of your health care provider because of any information you read in this topic.
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