Experience From - Jon Engelstad, Al Zeller#1 , Tim Jantz , Al Zeller#2 , Geri Kilgariff#1 , Paul Comet#1 , Geri Kilgariff#2 , Kevin Kepley , Paul Comet#2 , Al Zeller#3 , Unknown , Rich Schick , Heidi Schutt , Dick Vincent , Karl King,

Jon Engelstad

I know that this is a little unusual, but I was wondering if anyone has tried using magnets to help heal nagging injuries. My dad has a bad back, and he has been using magnets on it for the past several months, and claims that it feels much better. My ITB has been causing me problems, and I am now wearing a magnet in the knee wrap I wear. It seems that there have been a number of studies done which suggest that there is a definite positive benefit, but no one really understands why they work.

Has anyone had any experience with using magnets to cure their ailments? Thanks in advance for any help!

Al Zeller #1

I can give you several physics based reasons why magnets DON'T work as advertised in healing the human body. Can you give me a peer reviewed study where they DID work? It's a bit hard to imagine a double-blind experiment since the subject can easily verify the presence or absence of a magnetic field. How do you show that it isn't just the placebo effect?

Tim Jantz

Here is the site for a double blind study on magnets, and another informative site. check it out. I was very skeptical about magnets myself but am now a believer. it doesn't work for everyone but then I know a lot of people who say aspirin doesn't help their headaches either.

Al Zeller #2

I looked at these sites, but the evidence is sadly lacking. First, I admit to not having the time to read the entire article of which only a summary is presented and in another case, discussed. So my comments may be partially answered elsewhere.

A brief summary for those who don't want to look further: 50 patients were supplied with either a magnet or a placebo for a single 45 minute treatment, then asked to rate the pain level.(They are all suffering from post polio pain.) Sorry, but the small sample size, the qualitative nature of the response and the use of a single trial only convince me that medical doctors do not know what a scientific experiment really is. A result which is not reproducible is not a result. The main author, in fact, stated he didn't understand why the some patients felt improvement in areas of the body far away from the application site. Now if anybody's mind is changed by this set of data then that somebody was already a believer in the "conspiracy of the establishment against new ideas."

Another fundamental question is that all these reference concern relief of pain, not about healing injuries. A shot of Novocain will stop a toothache, but does nothing to cure the problem. Even assuming (big assumption) that magnets somehow give pain relief, do you really want to just deaden the pain in your whatever instead of fixing the problem?

A comparison of magnets to aspirin for curing headaches is ignoring the very real data of dose-response that is completely lacking in magnet studies. Swallow a handful of aspirin and see if there isn't some effect in 100% of the people who try it.

Geri Kilgariff #1

I have a couple articles in front of me about how magnets are successfully used in treating injuries in horses. Horses are too dumb to have a placebo effect. So are some runners. Magnets may just be worth a try.

Paul Comet #1

Geri, presumably the patient was Mister Ed, the Talking Horse. Horses are not only too dumb to have a placebo effect, they're also too dumb to discuss their condition with a scientist. The horse's condition has to be interpreted by a human being, presumably one of these "authentic psychics" that advertise on TV.

Geri Kilgariff #2

In response to Paul... according to Horse Journal, which is like the Consumer Reports of horse products (unbiased product review with no advertising), static magnets proved to relieve pain, reduce swelling and speed healing. While pain is subjective, swelling and healing can be observed objectively.

Kevin Kepley

I don't know about the effects of static magnetic fields, but I do recall reading articles in the IEEE journals a few years ago about the use of electromagnetic stimulation being effective in the treatment of broken bones. The electromagnetic fields produced by young persons and animals which are actively growing (i.e. bones) were measured, and a device that produced similar fields was made and applied in controlled experiments in the treatment of broken bones. It was found to be helpful, and I believe is now a standard treatment in some cases - especially where the damage is severe.

Paul Comet #2

Kevin your ABSOLUTELY RIGHT about this very effective treatment. Unfortunately, it has NOTHING to do with magnets. ELECTROMAGNETIC energy is not MAGNETIC energy. One powers TV, radio, and phone signals, and is the basis of all electronics. The other is used to pull rusty tin cans out of lakes.

Al Zeller #3

Ah, there is a big difference between a static field and a time varying one. Organisms are essentially living electrical devices so a changing magnetic field will induce electrical currents. At the least, this will cause muscles to contract and body will respond by increasing blood flow to the effected area. Increased blood flow means faster healing, e.g.. ultrasound treatment.

Static magnetic fields interact with matter (non-magnetic matter) depending on whether the material is ferromagnetic, diamagnetic or paramagnetic. In all three cases, the sign of the field doesn't make any difference. Ferromagnetic materials are things like iron which is strongly attracted to the magnet, or your rear end to a chair in Winfield or at the top of Devil's Thumb. Paramagnetic materials are attracted, but much more weakly; like sitting in Half Moon on the way out. Diamagnetic materials are repelled by the magnet, like your pacer booting you in the rear. Now, water and virtually all biological materials are diamagnetic, so are repelled by the magnet. In fact, given a sufficiently strong field one can levitate a person. This has been done with a frog, and no, it didn't croak. This is what makes any healing effect of static magnetic fields hard to swallow. The body is mostly water and the weak magnetic field tries to repel it. So any effect would have to depend on different magnetic susceptibilities of the various biochemical constituents and, in any field produced by one of these "medical magnets", the differences would be swamped by every other interaction.


Try typing that one into your web search engine, and see what you'll get! My wife had a spiral fracture (broke her leg in three places). The doctor AND the physical therapist were very concerned that she would recover completely. Anyway, the doctor managed to get the company who manufactures one of those EM stimulators to let Sue use it free (saved about $3000).

We spent a fair amount of time trying to read some of the literature about it's effect. There did seem to be some scientific validity to why it works (something to do with potentials at different parts of the bone). And I still question if it helped. She has recovered, and is training for her first marathon. I still think that her recovery was more due to her religious compliance at her recovery program more than the effect of the box. BUT WHO KNOWS?

Rich Schick

A Medline search on the use of magnets in Orthopedics only yielded one citation:

J Am Podiatr Med Assoc, 87(1):11-6 1997 Jan


The effect of a magnetic foil placed in the PPT/Rx Firm Molded Insole on the relief of heel pain was determined using the foot function index. Nineteen patients wore the PPT/Rx Firm Molded Insoles with the magnetic foil for 4 weeks and 15 patients wore the same PPT/Rx Firm Molded Insole with no magnetic foil for the same time. Approximately 60% of patients in both groups reported improvement. There was also no significant difference in the improvement between the magnetic foil group and the PPT/Rx Firm Molded Insole group in their scores on the post-treatment foot function index. These results suggest that the PPT/Rx Firm Molded Insole alone was effective in treating heel pain after only 4 weeks. The magnetic foil offered no advantage over the plain insole.

Doesn't look too promising to me...

Then again I came across this item...

Alternative Sports Medicine
Jacqueline White

Magnet therapy. Magnet therapy is the latest rage among athletes, who claim it reduces muscle soreness and pain. It involves wearing high-powered magnetic disks or sleeping on magnetic mattress pads.

Though therapeutic magnets have been used for decades by some athletes, research on their effectiveness has barely begun. One current effort is being led by Ann Gill Taylor, EdD, RN, director of one of the OAM research centers, the Center for the Study of Alternative and Complementary Therapies at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. Her double-blind, randomized, controlled study is evaluating how sleeping on a static magnetic mattress pad affects the pain of fibromyalgia patients.

Bioelectromagnetism, which involves extremely low-voltage electrical currents and magnetic fields, has been studied for its effects on pain relief and on soft-tissue wound healing (3). Perhaps the most striking possibility of this therapy is that it may promote healing in nonuniting bone fractures (15).

15 Sharrard WJ: A double-blind trial of pulsed electromagnetic fields for delayed union of tibial fractures. J Bone Joint Surg (Br) 1990;72(3):347-355

3. Workshop on Alternative Medicine: Alternative Medicine: Expanding Medical Horizons: A Report to the National Institutes of Health on Alternative Medical Systems and Practices in the United States. Bethesda, MD, National Institutes of Health, 1995, NIH Publication No. 94-066

Heidi Schutt

Ok - fine - I use "Nikken" magnets occasionally. Several years ago I had a chronic knee problem - my husband "Larry, the Legend" Ridgeway was using the magnets and kept insisting that I try them - I finally gave in and advised I would try them for 30 days. Religiously, every night I would put an ace wrap around my knee and drop a magnet on each side of my knee. Supposedly, you get a lot of "good" out of them while you are resting. 30 days passed without my realizing it - and to my surprise - I had to admit the knee pain was gone. Occasionally, I would feel it coming on again - and I would use the magnets again for a night or two - I have not had any knee problems since.

Unfortunately, I do have torn ligaments in my ankle and have not been able to run in 8 weeks - a friend who sells "Nikken" magnets ordered a new flexible magnetic ankle wrap for me - at the time he gave it to me - my ankle was just driving me crazy for days, I was volunteering at a local race and immediately put the magnetic ankle wrap on and within 30 minutes the pain had subsided! The ligaments are still healing - I didn't expect a miracle healing - but the magnetic wrap has helped tremendously.

Dick Vincent

The one theory that seems to make the most sense to me about magnets is that the iron in the blood is attracted to the magnet and therefore increases blood flow to the injured area without pooling all the other fluids that would normally be attracted to the area with the application of heat. Therefore there is less swelling around the injury yet the boo boo area still gets the nutrients ( found in the blood) to the area to help promote healing. Fact or fiction? Give it a try and see. For every study you see supporting magnets there seems to be one saying "the joke is on you".

Karl King

Dick wrote:

"The one theory that seems to make the most sense to me about magnets is that the iron in the blood is attracted to the magnet and therefore increases blood flow to the injured area without pooling all the other fluids that would normally be attracted to the area with the application of heat."
Not true. Iron is attracted to a magnet only when it is in the zero valence state. Iron in the blood is in the +2 or +3 state, and not attracted. Dip a magnet into ferrous sulfate, or ferric sulfate and see how much you pick up.

Stainless steel is mostly iron, but it not attracted by a magnet.

As a scientist, I remain open to scientific evidence and proof, but what I've seen so far on this subject is nothing more than Witchdoctor mumbo-jumbo. I can easily understand how *alternating* fields can affect change through heating, but nobody has shown me any evidence that static magnetic fields can affect tissues. How do you know that whatever results were obtained were not the result of mechanical stimulation or the magnet acting simply as a heat sink? If a cool magnet works well, maybe icing would relieve pain even better (what a novel idea). Does a magnet reduce pain if the magnet is first heated to 100 degrees F and then applied?

Placing a magnet over an injured area may change things, but how do you know that it is the result of magnetism? Perhaps the same kind of apparatus, but non magnetic, with a similar thermal conductivity, would have produced equally good results. Those of you who use magnets, try putting the apparatus in the freezer before applying. Does it work any better? Does it still work if the magnets are hot?