Magnet therapy involves applying a magnet to the skin or close to the skin to improve a condition such as pain.
The strength of magnets is described in terms of “gauss” or “Tesla.” A Tesla is equivalent to 10,000 gauss. Magnets used for treatment usually have a higher magnetic strength than typical refrigerator-type magnets. Therapeutic magnets are most often in the range of 200-10,000 gauss. Typical household magnets are typically around 200 gauss.
People wear magnets to treat painful conditions including general pain, pain after surgery, low back pain, foot pain, heel pain, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), carpel tunnel syndrome, painful menstrual periods, nerve pain caused by diabetes (diabetic neuropathy), sports injuries, and migraine headache.
Magnets are also worn for treating water retention, wounds, male sexual performance problems (erectile dysfunction, ED), trouble sleeping (insomnia), ringing in the ears (tinnitus), cancer, multiple sclerosis (MS), Parkinson’s disease, schizophrenia, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), epilepsy, trouble controlling urination (incontinence), and many other conditions.
There is interest in magnet therapy for medical conditions due to the variety of electromagnetic fields that naturally occur within the body. For example, nervous system transmissions and related muscle contractions are associated with magnetic activity. The heart generates the largest magnetic field in the body. Several other activities in the body are associated with magnetic activity.
At one time it was thought that abnormal magnetic fields in the body might result in certain disease states and that magnets could play a role in making these magnetic fields normal again.
You may hear that magnets attract the iron in red blood cells, resulting in increased circulation. But this is wrong. The iron in blood cells is not in a magnetic form. However, magnets, in theory, could have an effect on other charged molecules in the blood and other parts of the body.
There isn’t enough information to know exactly how magnets might work in the body to treat disease or pain.