Use of magnets for pain relief Print E-mail
Written by Dr. Somash   

What are magnets?
Magnets are objects that produce a type of energy called magnetic fields. All magnets possess a property called polarity--that is, a magnet's power of attraction is strongest at its opposite ends, usually called the north and south poles. The north and south poles attract each other, but north repels north and south repels south. All magnets attract iron. 

Magnets come in different strengths, most often measured in units called gauss (G). For comparison purposes, the Earth has a magnetic field of about 0.5 G; refrigerator magnets range from 35 to 200 G; magnets marketed for the treatment of pain are usually 300 to 5,000 G; and MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) machines widely used to diagnose medical conditions noninvasively produce up to 200,000 G.1 

The vast majority of magnets marketed to consumers for health purposes (see the box below) are of a type called static (or permanent) magnets. They have magnetic fields that do not change. 

Examples of Products Using Magnets 
- Shoe insoles 
- Heel inserts 
- Mattress pads 
- Bandages 
- Belts 
- Pillows and cushions 
- Bracelets and other jewelry 
- Headwear 

The other magnets used for health purposes are called electromagnets, because they generate magnetic fields only when electrical current flows through them. The magnetic field is created by passing an electric current through a wire coil wrapped around a magnetic core. Electromagnets can be pulsed--that is, the magnetic field is turned on and off very rapidly.


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