Magnetic / Biomagnetic Therapy Treatment for Fibromyalgia

Magnet therapy has been practiced for centuries and is believed to have healing power. Magnets are known to produce a magnetic field which is reported to have an effect on the sensation of pain.

For Fibromyalgia, people report that this therapy offers bodily relief from pain by increasing blood circulation, improving the flow of oxygen to tissues and by stimulating various cells in the body. Magnetic therapy eases the symptoms of the Fibromyalgia such as widespread pain and muscle tension.

There are many magnetic devices available to buy for relief from pain.  Anecdotally this therapy sounds effective, but there is little or no research related to the effectiveness of magnetic or biomagnetic therapy for Fibromyalgia.  However, this is also little or no risk to trying it.

Magnetic therapy uses the energy and electrical currents of magnets in order to promote overall physical and mental healing through the stimulation of cells.  There are many forms of this therapy from therapy with devices in a hospital setting, to wearing simple magents to pads and bed and chair coverings with a magentic field.

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Frequently Asked Question about Magnetic / Biomagnetic Therapy

What are the Costs of Magnetic Devices?

The magnetic devices available over-the-counter vary dramatically in size, shape, strength, and price. Smaller devices, such as those that can be taped to the wrist, cost around $25. Magnetic insoles can run about $100, and you could spend about $300 to $800 on a magnet-filled mattress pad. Be sure the product you are considering has a refund option, and try to buy any magnetic products from a reputable vendor.

How to Select a Good Magnetic / Biomagnetic Therapy Practitioner

Magnetic therapy may be practiced by a doctor or bodyworker or may be self-administered. Depending on the severity of your condition, you may want work with a reputable and experienced practitioner who is knowledgeable about the therapeutic use of magnets, or you may simply try a device yourself and experiment with whether it works for you.

Various courses can be taken by individuals seeking to become magnetic therapy practitioners, both online and in training centers. Researching what qualifications a practitioner has and the reputation of these courses is a good place to start when looking into finding a practitioner.

History of Magnetic / Biomagnetic Therapy

The origins of using magnets for medical purposes can be traced to Ancient Greece. Hippocrates is noted for his research using a naturally occurring mineral, lodestone, for the magnetic properties it possesses. Galen, another ancient Greek doctor, reportedly discovered that when magnets were applied to the body pain would be reduced or alleviated completely.

Unrelated to the Ancient Greek studies, the effects of magnetism on health were noted in China in the first century AD. Physicians during this era in China observed and recorded how diseases in the body and the body in general reacted to the natural magnetic field that surrounds the Earth. Later, Persian doctors used magnets to treat conditions such as muscle spasms and gout.

Magnets continued to be used in medicine during the middle ages and the Renaissance In 1777, Abbot Lenoble, of France's Royal Society of Medicine, conducted an in-depth study of biomagnetic therapy.  He made and tested therapeutic magnets, recommending the application of magnetic bracelets and necklaces to the wrist and chest.  He replicated results in dozens of cases of magnetic therapy including the treatment of toothache, arthritis, stomach spasms, and convulsions, among other diseases.  During the 19th century, the number of detailed studies continued to grow including studies by Eydam in 1843, Charot and Renard in 1878, Westphal and Gangee in 1878, Mueller in 1879, and Benedict in 1885.

In the 20thcentury extensive biomagnetic therapy studies have been conducted in Japan which have demonstrated the effectiveness of magnetic fields in treating various disorders.  Magnetic jewelry, including necklaces and bracelets, are sold in Japan, Europe, and China for the relief of pain and stiffness, as well as for improved circulation.  Many magnetic devices sold in Japan are registered with the Japan Welfare Ministry as medical devices.  To obtain this registration, devices are required to undergo clinical tests at accredited medical facilities to verify their effectiveness.

Theory behind Fibromyalgia Treatment using Magnetic / Biomagnetic Therapy

There are a few different theories about why magnetic therapy may be effective for pain relief.

These include (in no particular order):

  • the idea that by putting magnets near the body, the magents produce a field that alleviates the pain
  • the theory that the application of magnets to an area of the body will re-align the body's electromagnetic field
  • the scientific fact taht a mild magnetic field can cause very small blood vessels in the body to dilate and contract; which then increase blood circulation and flow and suppresses inflamation, which promotes healling
  • the idea that "electromagnets affect nerve cells, which are electrical cells and the magents can affect how those nerves fire and quiet them down without drugs" (according to Dr. Dillard, a pain specialist who appeared on the Dr. Oz show in late 2011)
  • some studies taht have shown that magnetic fields may cause chagnes in nerve cell functions, which then block the pain signals
  • the theory that magents offer pain relief by causing an increas in blood flow and oxygen to the tissues which promotes healing
  • the theory that magnetic pain therapy works by balancing the death and growth of cells, or by increasing the temperature of the body which then leads to reduced pain.

Clearly there is no one generally accepted study, and some of the theories above are related to one another in different ways.

Research of Fibromyalgia Treatment using Magnetic / Biomagnetic Therapy

There has been little research specific to the use of magnets for Fibromyalgia, and interestingly enough, most online searches for research studies about fibromyalgia and magnets will turn up a press release touting a study done in 2001 at the University of Virginia as 'proving' the efficacity of magnetic therapy for Fibromyalgia, but that is not quite what the study actually says.  The results were that the magnetic pads had an impact on pain intensity but they did not have any greater impact than the placebo or control groups on all the other measures examined.  See the summary of the study below, and search it out if you would like to know more.

Static magnetic fields for treatment of fibromyalgia: a randomized controlled trial (2001, University of Virginia)

Summary:  The goal of this study was to test the effectiveness of static magnetic fields of two different configurations, produced by magnetic sleep pads, as adjunctive therapies in decreasing patient pain perception and improving functional status in individuals with fibromyalgia.  It was a randomized, placebo-controlled, 6-month trial.  

Participants were divided into five groups; one group using a pad for 6 months that provided full body exposure to a low, uniform static magnetic field of negative polarity, one group using a pad for 6 months that exposed them to a low static magnetic field that varied spatially and in polarity and two other groups being given pads that were identical in texture and appearance but had inactive magnets, and one 'usual care' group that continued with their established treatments.
The result was that there was a significant difference in pain intensity ratings in the group that had the functional pad after six months, but that all other measurements (functional status, tender point count, tender point intensity) did not differ in any significant way between the control group or the sham group or the group with functional magnetic pads.


Stories of Fibromyalgia Treatment using Magnetic / Biomagnetic Therapy

Anecdotal stories of the effectiveness of magnets or magnetic therapy are strong.  Proponents say that this goes back the Greeks and Romans.  Sceptics say that magnets are a five billion dollar industry.

The majority of people who post about magents online are positive about them impact (some with an almost religious fervour).

One poster mentions a machine with spinning magnetics in it; "you put your feet on it and it sends magnetic electricity up into your body. It felt weird, but it made the pain bearable!".

Another person says "I rely on magnets for my back pain, I put an infred wrap with a magnet in it, on my back before I got to bed and wake up with a pain free non stiff back :)"

Some people do talk about trying magnets and them not working, but the general consensus seems to be  that they are a worth a try, as long as you do not spend a fortune on them at the beginning.  Other people warn that it can be hard to find a magnet that does work and that they themselves have tried multiple magnets and some do work and others don't.

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