Home > Media > Dr Ross Walker discusses magnet field therapy for pain relief – Radio 2UE Healthy Living

Dr Ross Walker discusses magnet field therapy for pain relief – Radio 2UE Healthy Living

Dr Ross Walker as an eminent cardiologist is always worth listening to. Click on the image to learn more about his Healthy Living segments.

We have provided a transcript of the interview with some links to the supporting documents and quoted studies.

Introduction by host David Prior of 2UE:
People have been using magnets for a long time now, third century AD the Greeks were actually treating arthritis with magnets. Medieval doctors used magnets to treat gout, poisoning and also baldness, believe it or not. Today, magnets are popular for pain relief for shoe insoles, bracelets, head bands, belts and mattress pads. So, can magnets bring about better health doctor Ross? What is the research?

Dr Ross Walker:
OK, last week (link to last week’s show) I was mentioning that I have trialled magnets for pain relief, I’ve trialled the Scenar therapy and I’ve also trialled the Pain Master. All of which have given me enormous relief, which I think is a good thing. I don’t think you need the very rigid randomised controlled clinical trials that you might need for strong pharmaceutical agents that also have the potential for harm or for significant surgical procedures. Alex called up and said I shouldn’t be condoning or advising therapy that doesn’t have proper science. He said there was a Cochrane Review that said that magnets don’t help at all, that it’s basically just snake oil salesman stuff.

I did a bit of homework and looked at the Cochrane review because I didn’t have the results of the Cochran review right there with me and it looked at electromagnetic fields, or the use of magnets for treating osteoarthritis, this is a Cochrane Review of 2013. So it is a pretty current review, they looked at nine studies of 636 total patients with osteoarthritis who were treated for more than 4 weeks with magnets with a sham group as well, a placebo group and here is the conclusion. Current evidence suggests – this is the Cochrane review David, that electromagnetic field treatment may provide moderate benefit for osteoarthritis sufferers, in terms of pain relief. Further studies are required to confirm whether this treatment confers clinically important benefits in terms of physical function and quality of life – it’s important to check these things as well.

But, they are saying that studies already show significant benefit from pain relief. When Alex said that the Cochrane review said it was negative, I’m sorry Alex you were wrong this Cochran review says there is moderate benefit from pain relief. People with arthritis, of course they are limited physically and I know myself, I’ve got osteoarthritis in my right knee, but when I’ve applied the magnets, I have relief from pain and that’s what we’re talking about here. Sure it hasn’t helped my function any better but it has certainly relieved my pain.

Two reviews of weak unipolar magnets contradicted each other, one said there was a significantly less pain in the treatment group, whereas the other review said there was no difference, strangely it was a review of the same data, so I didn’t really get that. It does suggest that across the board there are positive benefits over placebo.

Four studies showed significant pain relief and even fracture healing (Study 1, Study 2, Study 3, Study 4). A variety of other studies by a Professor Holcomb from Vanderbilt University in Nashville (Study 1, Study 2, Study 3, Study 4, Video) showed very significant pain relief especially low back pain from using what is known as quadrapolar or Q magnets which are the ones I am talking about. So the reality is, most of the studies that showed no benefit suffered from one or a combination of the following problems. Firstly it was inadequate time of exposure or the strength of the field. So they used unipolar versus these much stronger quadrapolar magnets and it was the size of the magnet and the location and the depth of penetration (see explanation). So really, like everything, not all magnets are created equal. So if you are going to use the magnets for pain relief or anything else, you’ve got to use the Q magnets which are the ones that gave me the benefit – I’ve got to say.

As there are no potential ill effects from magnets, unless applied of course over a pacemaker, they don’t require the same rigid degree of randomised controlled clinical trials, although it appears that most of the studies do show a benefit to some degree. As I’ve said before and I’ll say it again, I’ve had great benefit for pain relief for my knee using quadrapolar magnets. I’ve also had benefits from a lot of other musculoskeletal problems from the magnets. As well as the scenar therapy, which I think is terrific and I use that most nights when I sit watching the television and now just recently I’ve discovered this Pain Master which are these micro-electrodes, you don’t feel it at all, but I’ve had incredible relief from the pain master as well and I’ll be talking about that more in coming weeks. I’m sorry Alex, you were incorrect, the Cochrane Review did show a moderate benefit for pain relief and that’s got to be good.

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