Magnetic Therapy for Back Pain

by admin on December 29, 2010

Magnetic Therapy for Back Pain

Magnetic Therapy for Pain

The magnetic therapy industry is worth millions of dollars worldwide and there are a huge number of manufacturers creating devices that claim to treat back pain due to spinal stenosis and a number of other conditions.  This magnetic therapy is available in the form of bracelets, necklaces, and other magnetic therapy jewellery, along with back supports with magnetic inserts, magnetic mattresses, and magnetic insoles for the treatment of foot complaints including diabetic neuropathy. Magnetic therapy for animals has become increasingly popular in the last few years with all manner of exorbitantly priced gadgets and gizmos aimed at cats, dogs, rabbits, and racehorses.

Evidence behind effectiveness

The evidence for magnetic therapy’s usefulness for any medical condition is sorely lacking, with numerous studies finding little or no effect and those that have found an effect being seriously flawed.  This does not stop many retailers quoting these positive studies in order to legitimise the treatment, but a basic grasp of scientific method and a quick look at the research papers themselves soon cast doubt on the merit of the findings.  Common problems include the lack of a control group, issues with randomization, the ability of patients to discern which group they are in if there is a control ‘sham’ treatment, and statistically unsound methods used to analyze findings.  In recent years the FDA has cracked down on those making unwarranted claims for their products with many companies prosecuted and told to remove promises of medical cures from their promotional copy and packaging.

While research continues, the treatment remains popular with a huge amount of anecdotal evidence in its favor.  As magnetic therapy is safe for almost everybody and relatively inexpensive if you go for the basic models rather than the souped-up magnetic massagers, it is worth considering for those who have tried everything else to relieve their back pain.  All patients are encouraged to discuss their treatment with their doctor prior to purchasing any such devices as there may be other therapies available with clearer evidence of efficacy.  Those who are receiving radiotherapy, those with pacemakers, and pregnant women should not normally use these devices, and all patients should make sure not to fall victim to any bombastic claims by manufacturers.

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