Some specialty web sites retail the magnets, as well as work furniture and tools that are ergonomically-designed to prevent and alleviate work-related disorders. The proximity implies ergonomic credentials the magnets don’t have, and a new study suggests they may be worthless.
Reporting the 2006 study, the BBC said Professor Leonard Finegold of Drexel University in Philadelphia and Professor Bruce Flamm of the Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in California found no benefits from the “therapeutic” magnets, worn in bracelets, insoles and wrist and knee bands. The team reviewed 10 earlier studies into the effectiveness of magnet therapy and showed that the so-called “controlled” experiments were suspect because of the way they were conducted.
As the real magnets stuck to anything metal in pockets and elsewhere, patients given dummy magnets and real magnets could distinguish between the two. Some studies boxed the magnets to make it more difficult to make the distinction. A boxed study into carpal tunnel syndrome, a common work-related disorder market by wrist pain, showed no statistical difference between patients with real magnets and sham ones. Both reported an improvement. The magnets were credited in one boxed study with bringing relief to subjects with pelvic pain, but the results were compromised, according to the two US professors, because the researchers admitted they had no way to tell if the patient knew the false magnet from the real one.
In the same BBC article, Debbie Shimadry, director of World of Magnets, defended the use of the devices. Describing them as a treatment, not a cure, she said they were “very effective for relief of symptoms of joint-related disorders.” She stressed it is important to have the right type of magnet of the right strength, placed in the right area.
Professors Fiengold and Flamm warned that self-treatment with magnets risked leaving underlying medical conditions untreated. They don’t mention prevention, but in cases where ailments are job-related, the best care is attacking the root of the problem with ergonomic measures.
Sources: BBC, British Medical Journal