Magnet therapy is an non-invasive and drug-free treatment. Static magnetic field therapy has been around longer than current civilization. From the earliest recorded history of medicine, physicians and scientists have been investigating magnet therapy and it’s effects on physiology and neurology alike.
There have been many innovations, research and developments in magnetic field therapy by doctors, scientists and universities from around the world. Like any medical or alternative treatment, the procedure to apply magnetic therapy requires some amount of knowledge and skill. It is required to study scientific evidence such as case studies, clinical trials and cell studies in order to apply biomagnetic therapy effectively and with confidence.
Does magnet therapy really help with pain?
In a world where pain medications are frequently discovered to be harmful after substantial damage has already occurred, it is the duty of everyone involved to learn about pain treatments such as magnet therapy for natural pain relief. Perhaps it is our fault, never questioning the treatment prescribed, without even caring to pro-actively ask about associated side-effects. John Hopkins recommends anti-depressants for arthritis pain relief treatment.
Thankfully, these same universities have encouraging research on static magnetic field therapy, although their focus is more on electromagnetic therapy. It’s nice to see this John Hopkins study recognize that SMF magnetic field therapy has clinical applications1, and taking steps to spread information, rather than spread blatant mis-information such as in case of Wikipedia.
What is magnet therapy and how does it work?
Magnet therapy is applying magnetic fields to the body for a therapeutic benefit. The degree of benefit and the effect itself depends on the magnetic device’s magnetic field characteristics such as intensity and field gradient, as well as the duration of use and placement of the magnet.
Magnetic field gradients are integral to life. In nature, magnetic field gradients are found in gravity, temperature changes, light intensity and electric potential in cell membrane. Magnetic field gradient is the rate of change of the strength of the field over distance – measured in mT/mm. Most magnet therapy products such as those found on Amazon or Walmart typically provide less than 12 mT/mm, while some of the Q Magnets models go up to 260 mT/mm.
Dr. Robert Holcomb & Dr. McLean M. J.2 are the key pioneers is discovering the pain relieving effects of static magnetic fields and the quadrapolar array magnet3 which has been found to have the steepest magnetic field gradient. Later, Italian scientists confirmed the superiority of the design.4 This study found magnet therapy using quadrapolar array to reduce wrist pain after fracture by 35%.
In 1995, McLean and Cavapol made the break-through discovery. They found that 1.5 mT quadrapolar magnets stopped the pain signal5.
That design has now been further optimized to true quadrapolar by Q Magnets. The field gradient is strongest where the magnetic poles intersect, so more the number of poles, more magnetically healing area.
Fact is, bipolar designs have been found to be ineffective in clinical trials6. On the other hand, significant effects are to be found with Q Magnets with some of them going up to 260 mT/mm with 4-8 poles on the same side, although you may require a low gradient magnet for nerves closer to the surface of the skin.
Magnet Therapy Clinical Research – What are SMFs used for today?
Chronic inflammation is painful and frustrating. Magnetic therapy is a natural painkiller. Pain management is one of the most common applications for magnetic field therapy.
Majority of research and use of magnetic field therapy has been for pain relief and pain management. Animals such as canines7 and equines can also benefit with magnet therapy use. By now we understand why magnet therapy doesn’t work, they use non-optimized magnets usually bipolar and with not enough penetration. The following studies showcase how multipolar SMFs support pain relief based on published clinical trials.
Magnetic field therapy is an all-natural pain relief technology and has been found soothe soreness in erosive gastritis8, menstrual pain9, chronic pelvis pain10, chronic lumbar radicular pain11, back pain, arthritis pain12, wound healing13 and diabetic neuropathy14 among others.
In conclusion, magnet therapy is an effective pain relief technology for a variety of conditions. It’s easy imagine that it would provide some temporary benefits in most musculoskeletal pain conditions. Physiotherapists, Sports physiotherapists and indeed any professional working with musculoskeletal issues can consider magnetic therapy as an adjunct treatment.
Best Magnetic Therapy Products
Several kinds of magnetic therapy products with healing magnets are available now. These include several kinds of magnetic therapy products such as knee braces, bands, mats and magnetic bracelets among a few. To be able to buy anything that could help with surety it is important to know their field, dose and placement.
It’s not a matter of simple construction at all. Magnet therapy devices should have very specific field characteristics optimized to deliver the field to specific parts of the body. For example, the QF28-3 and QF20-3 magnets by Q Magnets works especially great for knees, as it is able to reach the deepest nerves of the joint. Below image shows the quadrapolar magnetic fields of these two magnet types and you can also see one is reaching deeper than the other.
The reason why magnetic bracelets and magnetic jewelry have been found to be a waste of money is plain and simple, these do not ensure a consistent placement. A steady magnetic field would only be possible by attaching the magnet to the body using an adhesive or tape to have a great effect, and it needs to be strong enough or optimized to reach the desired nerve.
Choosing the target nerve based on a deeper understanding of the pain condition, myofascial trigger points and dermatone map are considered effective methods to place healing magnets.
Q Magnets has been online since early 2000s and we find their research and procedures to be thoroughly explained for home-users and professionals alike. Q Magnets are developed by physiotherapists and neurologists including Dr. Holcomb) in their advisory panel, making them really one of the best pain treatment technologies today. They have magnetic therapy protocols based on myosfacial trigger points, acupuncture points and physiotherapy. All explained via diagrams that show magnet placements to target specific pain areas such as knee, neck, shoulders, lower back, etc.
They offer comprehensive magnetic therapy kits that include magnetic mattress toppers/mats/blankets as well therapeutic magnets of various sizes, strengths and configurations. The Q magnets shop allows you to filter and compare magnets based on their characteristics allowing you to experiment with more than 44 types of magnets at your own pace or budget.
Professional practitioners are welcome to explore Q magnet protocols. Read their guide on how to integrate magnetic therapy in a physiotherapy practice to learn more.
Like any wellness technology, it is important to understand the manufacturer contraindications before use. Most magnets can’t be used near electronic pace-makers or other battery operated implants. They should be safe to use near titanium implants. Pregnant or children should seek professional advice before using magnet therapy.
- 1.Zhang X, Yarema K, Xu A. Biological Effects of Static Magnetic Fields. Springer Singapore; 2017. doi:10.1007/978-981-10-3579-1
- 2.Cavopol AV, Wamil AW, Holcomb RR, McLean MJ. Measurement and analysis of static magnetic fields that block action potentials in cultured neurons. Bioelectromagnetics. Published online 1995:197-206. doi:10.1002/bem.2250160308
- 3.McLean M, Engström S, Holcomb R. Static Magnetic Fields for the Treatment of Pain. Epilepsy & Behavior. Published online June 2001:S74-S80. doi:10.1006/ebeh.2001.0211
- 4.Costantino C, Pogliacomi F, Passera F, Concari G. Treatment of wrist and hand fractures with natural magnets: preliminary report. Acta Biomed. 2007;78(3):198-203. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18330079
- 5.Cavopol A, Wamil A, Holcomb R, McLean M. Measurement and analysis of static magnetic fields that block action potentials in cultured neurons. Bioelectromagnetics. 1995;16(3):197-206. doi:10.1002/bem.2250160308
- 6.Collacott E, Zimmerman J, White D, Rindone J. Bipolar permanent magnets for the treatment of chronic low back pain: a pilot study. JAMA. 2000;283(10):1322-1325. doi:10.1001/jama.283.10.1322
- 7.Rogachefsky R, Altman R, Markov M, Cheung H. Use of a permanent magnetic field to inhibit the development of canine osteoarthritis. Bioelectromagnetics. 2004;25(4):260-270. doi:10.1002/bem.10192
- 8.Juhász M, Nagy V, Székely H, Kocsis D, Tulassay Z, László J. Influence of inhomogeneous static magnetic field-exposure on patients with erosive gastritis: a randomized, self- and placebo-controlled, double-blind, single centre, pilot study. J R Soc Interface. 2014;11(98):20140601. doi:10.1098/rsif.2014.0601
- 9.Eccles N. A randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled pilot study to investigate the effectiveness of a static magnet to relieve dysmenorrhea. J Altern Complement Med. 2005;11(4):681-687. doi:10.1089/acm.2005.11.681
- 10.Brown C, Ling F, Wan J, Pilla A. Efficacy of static magnetic field therapy in chronic pelvic pain: a double-blind pilot study. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2002;187(6):1581-1587. doi:10.1067/mob.2002.128026
- 11.Khoromi S, Blackman M, Kingman A, et al. Low intensity permanent magnets in the treatment of chronic lumbar radicular pain. J Pain Symptom Manage. 2007;34(4):434-445. doi:10.1016/j.jpainsymman.2006.12.008
- 12.Wolsko P, Eisenberg D, Simon L, et al. Double-blind placebo-controlled trial of static magnets for the treatment of osteoarthritis of the knee: results of a pilot study. Altern Ther Health Med. 2004;10(2):36-43. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15055092
- 13.Man D, Man B, Plosker H. The influence of permanent magnetic field therapy on wound healing in suction lipectomy patients: a double-blind study. Plast Reconstr Surg. 1999;104(7):2261-2266; discussion 2267-8. doi:10.1097/00006534-199912000-00051
- 14.Weintraub M, Wolfe G, Barohn R, et al. Static magnetic field therapy for symptomatic diabetic neuropathy: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2003;84(5):736-746. doi:10.1016/s0003-9993(03)00106-0