Reduce Foot Pain Relief with Magnetic Therapy Products

Magnets may reduce diabetic foot pain

NEW YORK, Jan 11 (Reuters Health) -- The wearing of magnet-laden socks seems to reduce or eliminate the pain associated with a foot disorder common in diabetics, according to study from a US researcher.

"The constant wearing of magnetic devices was able to dramatically suppress the neuropathic symptoms of burning pain and numbness and tingling in the diabetic (patients' feet)", concludes researcher Dr. Michael Weintraub of Phelps Memorial Hospital in North Tarrytown, New York. His findings are published in the January issue of the American Journal of Pain Management.

Diabetic peripheral neuropathy -- a progressive deterioration of nerve function in the extremities linked to diabetes -- can trigger chronic pain in the feet. According to Weintraub, this condition is "notoriously difficult to treat, and often the patient becomes disabled."

Anecdotal reports have stimulated interest in the purported effectiveness of magnet therapy in the treatment of various types of pain. Sales of therapeutic magnets have now reached $200 million in the United States alone.

Weintraub's study involved 19 patients suffering from foot pain, 10 of whom were diabetic. He had all the study participants wear special 'magnet socks' for 4 months. Real magnets were sewn into one foot of each of the pair of socks, Weintraub explained, while the other foot contained a fake 'placebo' magnet-lookalike. Patients were not told which sock contained the real magnet, and socks were switched from foot to foot after the first month of the study.

The result? At the end of 4 months, 90% of diabetic subjects reported a dramatic reduction in foot pain. In contrast, just a third of the non-diabetic patients reported symptom reduction after magnet therapy.

The positive response of diabetic users to magnet therapy "appears to be palliative but not curative", Weintraub writes, "since symptoms recur when the magnet is removed."

Still, he says, magnet therapy "demonstrated an unexpected benefit" in easing the symptoms of a condition previously "felt to be disabling, intractable and progressive."

Weintraub and other experts believe that larger, controlled clinical trials are necessary to confirm these results. "We don't know the mechanism by which this works", said Dr. Paul Rosch, president of the American Institute of Stress and an expert in magnet therapy. "From a statistical point of view, the sampling (of Weintraub's study) is very small." Still, he labeled Weintraub's findings "a tremendous breakthrough."

SOURCE: American Journal of Pain Management 1999;9:8-17.