ChiroACCESS Article



Osteoarthritic Treatment with Magnetic Bracelets



This information is provided to you for use in conjunction with your clinical judgment and the specific needs of the patient.

ChiroACCESS Editorial Staff

  

ChiroACCESS



Published on

January 11, 2010

Text Size:   (-) Decrease the text size for the main body of this article    (+) Increase the text size for the main body of this article
Share this:  Add to TwitterAdd to DiggAdd to del.icio.usAdd to FacebookAdd to GoogleAdd to LinkedInAdd to MixxAdd to MySpaceAdd to NewsvineAdd to RedditAdd to StumbleUponAdd to Yahoo

Magnetic Field For decades there have been numerous anecdotal reports of magnets used to improve osteoarthritic and other symptoms.  A systematic review and meta-analysis in 2007 concluded that “The evidence does not support the use of static magnets for pain relief, and therefore magnets cannot be recommended as an effective treatment. For osteoarthritis, the evidence is insufficient to exclude a clinically important benefit, which creates an opportunity for further investigation.”  This latter call for further investigation was partially filled with a 2009 study.  This new randomized controlled clinical trial, conducted in Great Britain, examined the possible benefits of magnetic and copper bracelets on multiple symptoms associated with osteoarthritis.  The strong research design used a wrist worn device resembling a wrist watch, where the internal contents were not visible to the research subjects.  The internal contents consisted of either a strong magnet, a weak magnet, or a dummy magnet.  In addition, a copper bracelet was used as the fourth device.  A crossover design permitted each of the subjects to eventually wear all four devices.  Symptoms were evaluated using well established outcome measures after each of the four devices were utilized.  Over the sixteen weeks of the study there was no significant improvement in pain, stiffness, or physical function.  This study provides evidence that these devices are not effective for osteoarthritis.

The authors of this work are developing additional studies to explore the potential therapeutic value of magnetic devices with other chronic pain conditions.  They have completed a study of rheumatoid arthritis that is being prepared for publication. 

Therapeutic effects of magnetic and copper bracelets in osteoarthritis: a randomised placebo-controlled crossover trial.

Complement Ther Med. 2009 Oct-Dec;17(5-6):249-56. Epub 2009 Aug 28.

Richmond SJ, Brown SR, Campion PD, Porter AJ, Moffett JA, Jackson DA, Featherstone VA, Taylor AJ.
Department of Health Sciences, Area 3, Seebohm Rowntree Building, The University of York, Heslington, York, YO10 5DD, United Kingdom. sjr503@york.ac.uk

OBJECTIVES: To test the effectiveness of a typical magnetic wrist strap for reducing pain and stiffness, and for improving physical functioning amongst patients with osteoarthritis. DESIGN: A randomised double-blind placebo-controlled crossover trial. Each participant wore four devices over a 16-week period.

SETTING: Forty five patients with osteoarthritis were recruited from general practices in rural and urban areas of Yorkshire.

INTERVENTIONS: Experimental device: a commercially available magnetic wrist strap. Control devices: a weak magnetic wrist strap, a demagnetised wrist strap, and a copper bracelet.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: The WOMAC Osteoarthritis Index, the McGill Pain Questionnaire-Pain Rating Index (PRI), a pain visual analogue scale (VAS), and medication use.

RESULTS: No difference was observed between devices in terms of their effects on pain as measured by the primary outcome measure (WOMAC A), the PRI and the VAS. Similar results were obtained for stiffness (WOMAC B), physical function (WOMAC C), and medication use. Further analyses of the PRI subscales revealed a statistically significant difference between devices (P=0.025), which favoured the experimental device. Participants reported lower sensory pain after wearing the standard magnetic wrist strap, than when wearing control devices. However, no adjustment was made for multiple testing.

CONCLUSIONS: Our results indicate that magnetic and copper bracelets are generally ineffective for managing pain, stiffness and physical function in osteoarthritis. Reported therapeutic benefits are most likely attributable to non-specific placebo effects. However such devices have no major adverse effects and may provide hope.

Static magnets for reducing pain: systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized trials.

CMAJ. 2007 Sep 25;177(7):736-42.

Pittler MH, Brown EM, Ernst E.
Complementary Medicine, Peninsula Medical School, Universities of Exeter and Plymouth, Exeter, UK. max.pittler@pms.ac.uk


BACKGROUND: Static magnets are marketed with claims of effectiveness for reducing pain, although evidence of scientific principles or biological mechanisms to support such claims is limited. We performed a systematic review and meta-analysis to assess the clinical evidence from randomized trials of static magnets for treating pain.

METHODS: Systematic literature searches were conducted from inception to March 2007 for the following data sources: MEDLINE, EMBASE, AMED (Allied and Complementary Medicine Database), CINAHL, Scopus, the Cochrane Library and the UK National Research Register. All randomized clinical trials of static magnets for treating pain from any cause were considered. Trials were included only if they involved a placebo control or a weak magnet as the control, with pain as an outcome measure. The mean change in pain, as measured on a 100-mm visual analogue scale, was defined as the primary outcome and was used to assess the difference between static magnets and placebo.

RESULTS: Twenty-nine potentially relevant trials were identified. Nine randomized placebo-controlled trials assessing pain with a visual analogue scale were included in the main meta-analysis; analysis of these trials suggested no significant difference in pain reduction (weighted mean difference [on a 100-mm visual analogue scale] 2.1 mm, 95% confidence interval -1.8 to 5.9 mm, p = 0.29). This result was corroborated by sensitivity analyses excluding trials of acute effects and conditions other than musculoskeletal conditions. Analysis of trials that assessed pain with different scales suggested significant heterogeneity among the trials, which means that pooling these data is unreliable.

INTERPRETATION: The evidence does not support the use of static magnets for pain relief, and therefore magnets cannot be recommended as an effective treatment. For osteoarthritis, the evidence is insufficient to exclude a clinically important benefit, which creates an opportunity for further investigation.

Effects of static magnets on chronic knee pain and physical function: a double-blind study.

Altern Ther Health Med
. 2002 Jul-Aug;8(4):50-5.

Hinman MR, Ford J, Heyl H.
Department of Physical Therapy, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, USA.

CONTEXT: Static magnets have become an increasingly popular alternative therapy for individuals with musculoskeletal pain despite limited scientific evidence to support their efficacy or safety.

OBJECTIVE: To determine the effects of static magnets on the pain and functional limitations associated with chronic knee pain due to degenerative joint disease.

DESIGN: Double-blind, randomized, controlled clinical trial.

SETTING: Pretests and posttests were conducted in an academic health science center.

PARTICIPANTS: Forty-three ambulatory subjects with chronic pain in 1 or both knee joints who were recruited from outpatient clinics or who volunteered to participate.

INTERVENTION: Subjects wore pads containing magnets or placebos over their painful knee joints for 2 weeks.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Self-administered ratings of pain and physical function using the Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Osteoarthritis Index (WOMAC) and a timed 15-m (50-ft) walk.

RESULTS: Multivariate analysis of covariance revealed significantly greater improvements in the group wearing magnets (P=.002). Univariate analyses indicated that comparative changes in self-rated pain and physical function (P=.002 and .001, respectively) were greater than changes in gait speed (P=.042).

CONCLUSIONS: The application of static magnets over painful knee joints appears to reduce pain and enhance functional movement. However, further study is needed to determine the physiological mechanisms responsible for this analgesic effect.
Share this:  Add to TwitterAdd to DiggAdd to del.icio.usAdd to FacebookAdd to GoogleAdd to LinkedInAdd to MixxAdd to MySpaceAdd to NewsvineAdd to RedditAdd to StumbleUponAdd to Yahoo