Question: What is electromagnetic field therapy and is it effective in treating pain associated with osteoarthritis?
Answer: There's a lot of interest and research right now in the use of magnets and magnetic therapies for arthritis. And you see this.
You know, people are buying magnets and wearing them on their knees, putting them on their elbows and even buying mattress pads filled with magnets. I need to tell you the research is not compelling in the use of magnets.
Now that's not to say that an individual who's using magnets may not feel better. And if a patient came to me and said, gosh Doc, I've been putting this magnet on my knee and it's so much better, I say hallelujah! I mean, that's great.
However, when you look at broad research where you look at clinical trials and you look at even the basic science, it's actually not very compelling for the use of magnets for the treatment of osteoarthritis. However, I would also say that most clinical trials show about 30 percent of the people in that trial will get better in the placebo group -- in the group that's not taking the active therapy.
Which again I think really points to the fact that something may help them, it does. So a number of my patients over the years have said, this really helps me. And indeed I believe it does.
I don't think we should scoff at that as if like the placebo effect is something bad. I would say that that's a good thing if you can take something and it works for you, then you're your own N of one -- you're your own scientific study.
But I seldom recommend magnets because I don't actually think that there's compelling evidence for it.