There had been several double-blind, placebo-controlled trials conducted over the years to dispel the lingering doubts on the effectiveness of magnet therapy. In 2007, there had been a review of all the studies done in relation to magnets as treatment for pain.
The review concluded that based on those studies, there was no meaningful evidence that magnet therapy was effective. It added that magnets were in fact not effective.
Proponents of magnet therapy, however, claimed that it was impossible to carry out a real double-blind study because participants were able to check on the authenticity of their magnets.
Some researchers went around this by using weak magnets as the placebo treatment. Others used complicated placebo devices to confound the patients.
Here are the results of some of the double-blind tests.
A double blind, controlled trial of patients with rheumatoid arthritis of the knee compared the effects of strong alternating polarity magnets with the effects of a deliberately weak unipolar magnet.
After a week of therapy, 68% of the participants with the strong magnet reported relief, compared to 27% in the control group. However, there were no significant improvements in the objective evaluations of the condition.
The study suggested that magnets may reduce pain but did not alter the actual inflammation. Also, there was a mixture of statistically significant and insignificant results indicating a larger trial is needed to remove the ?statistical noise?.
A double-blind, placebo-controlled study of 50 patients with post-polio syndrome found evidence that magnets are effective for relieving pain. In the treatment group, 76% of the participants reported improvements, as against the 19% in the placebo group.
On peripheral neuropathy, there was a 4-month, double-blind, placebo-controlled crossover study of 19 people. Four participants wore magnetic foot insoles during the day all throughout the trial period.
There was a reduction in the symptoms of burning, numbness, and tingling. Especially marked were those cases of neuropathy associated with diabetes.
Afterwards, a far larger randomized, placebo-controlled follow up study was done by the same researchers. They used 375 patients with peripheral neuropathy caused by diabetes. Again, they tested the effectiveness of 4 months of treatment with magnetic insoles.
The results showed that the insoles produced benefits beyond that of the placebo effect and reduced the severity of such symptoms as burning pain, numbness, tingling and exercise-induced pain.
30 people with multiple sclerosis underwent a 2-month, double-blind, placebo-controlled study using a PEMP device. The participants taped the device to one of the three different acupuncture points.
The results showed statistically significant improvements in the treatment group, especially in bladder control, hand function, and muscle spasticity.
Low back and knee pain
Another trial (double-blind, placebo controlled) of 54 people with knee or back pain compared a complex static magnet array against a sham magnet array. 7 participants used either the real or sham device for 24 hours.
After a 7-day rest, they used the opposite therapy for another 24 hours. The evaluated results showed that the use of the real magnet was associated with greater improvements.
There were more trials done aside from these. Some showed significant results on the benefits of magnet therapy, especially on pain relief. However, there is still a need for more follow up on these tests.