A recent study by University of Virginia researchers demonstrates that the use of an acute, localized static magnetic field of moderate strength can result in significant reduction of swelling when applied immediately after an inflammatory injury.
Thomas Skalak, professor and chair of biomedical engineering, and Cassandra Morris, a former Ph.D. student in biomedical engineering at U.Va., reported their findings in the November 2007 edition of the American Journal of Physiology.
In the study, the hind paws of anesthetized rats were treated with inflammatory agents in order to simulate tissue injury. Magnetic therapy was then applied to the paws. The research results indicate that magnets can significantly reduce swelling if applied immediately after tissue trauma.
Since muscle bruising and joint sprains are the most common injuries worldwide, this discovery has potentially significant implications. "If an injury doesn't swell, it will heal faster - and the person will experience less pain and better mobility," says Skalak. This means that magnets might be used much the way ice packs and compression are now used for everyday sprains, bumps, and bruises, but with more beneficial results. The ready availability and low cost of this treatment could produce huge gains in worker productivity and quality of life.
Magnets have been touted for their healing properties since ancient Greece. Magnetic therapy is still widely used today as an alternative method for treating a number of conditions, from arthritis to depression, but there hasn't been scientific proof that magnets can heal.
Lack of regulation and widespread public acceptance have turned magnetic therapy into a $5 billion world market. Hopeful consumers buy bracelets, knee braces, shoe inserts, mattresses and other products that are embedded with magnets based on anecdotal evidence, hoping for a non-invasive and drug-free cure to what ails them.
|Contact: Jeff Hanna|
University of Virginia