Pain-Relieving Gadgets -- Do They Work?

Collins: "iSqueeze mimics Sequential Suppression Stockings, which we use in the hospital to prevent deep vein thrombosis after surgery. We use them on anyone who is unable to get up and do a lot of walking. I would recommend that a person considering this purchase go to Brookstone and try it out first, because I have known patients that can't tolerate it because it squeezes too hard."

Wagan Total Rest Heated Massage Magnetic Cushion

Sitting at a desk all day can be hard on your butt and back, so why not strap one of those massage cushions people use in the car to your chair?

The Wagan model has a low back and a sleek black design -- totally inconspicuous. No one needs to know that you're on the receiving end of a new-age heated therapeutic back rub as you finish those reports. Plus it's got magnets! They're supposed to be good for you, right?

Collins: "There's a lot of stuff out there in popular literature about magnets, but not much in the medical lit. I am very skeptical due to the principles of basic physics. Most of the magnets in these sorts of devices are not strong enough to hold a piece of paper to a door, so how could they penetrate the skin? I have patients who swear they make their headaches go away, and I don't argue with them. But most of them have already been in an MRI machine, which has an extremely powerful, superconducting magnetic field. No patient has ever said that going through the MRI has made them feel better."

Still, Collins says magnetic devices in feel-better gadgets are harmless. Only those wearing pacemakers should avoid them.

While these gadgets may not prove to be the solution to all of your aches and pains, at least they're not terribly likely to hurt you anywhere -- except, possibly, your wallet.

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