Key Points The vast majority
of magnets marketed to consumers to treat pain are of a type called
static (or permanent) magnets, because the resulting magnetic fields
are unchanging. The other magnets used for health purposes are called
electromagnets, because they generate magnetic fields only when electrical
current flows through them. Currently, electromagnets are used primarily
under the supervision of a health care provider or in clinical
so far does not firmly support a conclusion that magnets of any type
can relieve pain. However, some people do experience some relief. Various
theories have been proposed as to why, but none has been scientifically
proven (see Question 5).
in this area have produced conflicting results (see Question 8). Many concerns exist regarding the quality and rigor of the studies
conducted to date, leading to a call for additional, higher quality,
and larger studies.
The U.S. Food
and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved the marketing of magnets
with claims of benefits to health (such as "relieves arthritis pain").
The FDA and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) have taken action against
many manufacturers, distributors, and Web sites that make claims not
supported scientifically about the health benefits of magnets.
It is important
that people inform their health care providers about any therapy they
are currently using or considering, including magnets. This is to help
ensure a safe and coordinated course of care.