Q:

How effective is magnetic therapy for back pain?

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Quick Answer

More research is necessary before magnetic therapy can be proven or discounted as effective relief for back pain, but WebMD states there is no evidence of patients enjoying relief as a result of magnetic therapy, as of 2015. Magnetic resonance imaging scans typically use magnets thousands of times more powerful than those that magnetic therapy practitioners use, with no evidence of biological influence, notes Livescience.

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Full Answer

Medical magnet manufacturers claim that their magnets are different than standard magnets, and that the magnetic field their products produce can relief pain in ways that regular magnets cannot, according to WebMD. None of the research conducted on magnetic therapy uses these specially designed therapeutic magnets, and doctors admit that it is possible that the wrong magnets were used, or that the magnets were misused in determining the effectiveness of treatment. One study examined 20 individuals with lower back pain who had never used magnet therapy before, subjecting them to magnetic treatment for six hours, three days a week, before resting a week and performing the same experiment with fake magnets. The study found no difference in either treatment.

While some small studies have reported therapeutic value in magnetic therapy for pain relief, larger studies fail to show such a correlation, notes Livescience. Most therapeutic magnets sold do not carry a magnetic force strong enough to penetrate human skin, a fact that skeptics can easily test at home with a paperclip and a sock or any other thin membrane.

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