People who hurt will do or buy just about anything to stop hurting. Companies that sell products claiming to magically relieve pain often create explanations that are marginally plausible but good enough to convince the customer.
Take magnets for instance. The magnet business is big business; a multi-billion dollar business and I don't mean the kind of magnet that you stick to your refrigerator. The kind I'm talking about you will find around the wrists of professional golfers, embedded in mattresses or sewn into knee or back supports. People who wear or use these small, metallic objects will swear to you that it's the magnet that cured their ailments.
But, is it true? Is there any truth to the idea that a magnet can cure knee pain or hip pain for example?
In a recent study published in the British Medical Journal, 194 people with hip or knee pain due to osteoarthritis, were split into three groups. One group wore a magnetic bracelet, one group wore a weak magnetic bracelet and one group wore a fake magnetic bracelet. The bracelets looked the same and the subjects did not know which type of bracelet they had. After three months, the subjects were re-evaluated and guess what? The group that wore the real magnetic bracelet improved more than the other two groups. The magnets seemed to work.
The researchers, however, cannot explain why the bracelet worked but did notice that the strength of the bracelet appeared to be an important factor (134-197mTesla). They concluded that the improvement may be due to the bracelet, a placebo effect or both and that a magnetic bracelet is a reasonable option to help manage the pain associated with osteoarthritis.
Keep this in mind though if you are thinking of buying magnets to rid yourself of pain: Pain is, in nearly every case, a symptom of other underlying problems much like fever is a symptom of certain diseases. While no one wants to hurt, sometimes pain can be the best thing that can happen to you. Pain is an agent for change if you are willing to listen, get advice and follow the advice. Finding the source and addressing it can be a vexing problem but I have seen many people overcome what appears to be insurmountable issues and restore an active, athletic lifestyle; one that will serve them well into their "golden" years. At the end of your journey, you will not only feel better but will greatly enhance the quality of your life by addressing the root problems.
When you chase the pain for the sole purpose of eliminating it, I think you miss a very important opportunity. Think of it this way: what do you want when you're 60, 70 or 80 years of age? Do you want to feel like you're 20 or 30 years younger? I call this your "future youth". We've all seen people who seem much younger than they really are and also people, who at the age of 30, seem like they have one foot in the grave. How do you suppose you will secure your future youth if when your body tells you "Hey, it's time for a pit stop buddy! Get this thing fixed!", you silence the message with a magnetic bracelet, fail to rebuild your aching, ailing joint and just move on with your life? I have news for you. By the time you're 60, you will feel 80 and your window of opportunity will be the size of your little finger.
Magnets are not a magical cure for whatever ails you. Magnets may help you feel better. But, are you really better? Have you restored your health, your abilities and secured your future youth?
Think about it. How young would you like to feel when you're old?
Make today count.
Reference: Harlow, T., C. Greaves, et al. (2004). "Randomised controlled trial of magnetic bracelets for relieving pain in osteoarthritis of the hip and knee." Bmj 329(7480): 1450-4.