30 October 2009
The use of magnets and copper bracelets for pain relief might be a rapidly growing industry, but there is little evidence of the efficacy of magnet therapy, researchers say (Complement Ther Med 2009, online).
Worldwide sales of products containing therapeutic magnets total around $US4 billion ($4.3 billion) annually, say UK researchers.
They found when 45 patients with osteoarthritis were randomised to wear 4 different devices over a 16-week period, none produced any meaningful benefit. The finding contrasts with claims the products reduce pain and stiffness and improve physical functioning.
The products used in the study included a commercially available magnetic wrist strap, a copper bracelet, a weak magnetic wrist strap and a demagnetised wrist strap.
The authors said patients with persistent and disabling pain might be especially vulnerable to misleading claims relating to such unproven treatments.
“Reported analgesic [pain relieving] benefits associated with wearing these devices may… be attributed to the psychological effects of a placebo [dummy medicine],” they concluded.
Last Reviewed: 30 October 2009