therapy shows limited pain relief
In one of the first clinical research
studies conducted on magnet therapy for pain, U.Va. researchers
found "clinically meaningful" pain reduction in one group of participants,
but inconclusive results overall. The study was published in the
Feb. 23 issue of the Journal of Alternative and Complementary
in part with a grant from the NIH Center for Complementary and
Alternative Medicine, the study used three measures of pain: functional
status reported by study participants on a standardized fibromyalgia
questionnaire used nationwide, number of tender points on the
body and pain intensity ratings.
Ninety-four patients were randomly divided into four groups. One
group used Pad A, which provided whole-body exposure to a low,
uniformly static magnetic field of negative polarity. This group
exhibited a consistent improvement across all three outcome measures
at three and six months. Another group used Pad B, which exposed
subjects to a low static magnetic field that varied spatially
and in polarity, and showed the same level of improvement at the
control group received sham pads containing magnets that had been
demagnetized through heat processing. The second control group
received only their usual treatment for fibromyalgia. These two
groups did not exhibit the same improvements.
"Finding any positive results in the groups using the magnets
was surprising, given how little we know about how magnets work
to reduce pain," said the study's principal investigator, Dr.
Alan P. Alfano, assistant professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation
and medical director of the U.Va. HealthSouth Rehabilitation Hospital.
"The results tell us maybe this therapy works, and that maybe
more research is justified."
our knowledge, no other studies on magnet therapy have been done
in as rigorous a clinical setting as U.Va., and this study was
the largest conducted so far," said co-investigator Ann Gill
Taylor, a professor of nursing and director of the U.Va.
Center for the Study of Complementary and Alternative Therapies.
is a common rheumatological condition causing pain and tenderness
in joints, for which there is no generally effective treatment.
yet, there are no standards for magnet therapy based on what dosage,
field strength and period of exposure is proper, Alfano said.