Will Magnets Help Me Heal?
November 29, 2004 2:39 PM   Subscribe

I'm currently recovering from a pretty bad foot injury. Basically i was hit by a car while riding my motorcycle. My foot was smashed by the bumper and I suffered a talonavicular dislocation, which is a fancy way of saying my foot bones got disconected from the leg bones. The dislocation was reduced (owch) and now its immobilized. Someone sugested magnets would help me heal. Does anyone have experience with this? Does it work or is it nonsense? Does anyone know any other home remedies that work?
posted by clubfoote to Health & Fitness (15 answers total)
I've heard a lot about magnet therapy with respect to sports injuries, and it seems to be widely accepted. Who knows?
posted by loquax at 2:50 PM on November 29, 2004

I've read about some sort of electrical therapy that was used by Lance Armstrong to recover on a daily basis.
posted by mecran01 at 2:52 PM on November 29, 2004

posted by xil at 2:52 PM on November 29, 2004

Ouch! Sorry to hear that.

IMHO, magnets are nonsense. A cursory Googling will reveal much debunking.

Follow the instructions of your orthopedic doctors and physical therapists -- their knowledge is based on much actual experience. Aside from prescribed excersise and medication, home treatment should mainly involve getting proper rest, nutrition and hydration to allow the healing process to work to its full potential. (My own experience was with a double fracture of one femur.)
posted by Tubes at 2:56 PM on November 29, 2004

Not that they're definitive, but Penn & Teller had a Bullshit show on magnet therapy being...bullshit.
posted by davebug at 3:07 PM on November 29, 2004

What you want is calcium, glucosamine/condroitin, and co-enzyme Q10. Plus lots of yummy painkillers.
posted by kindall at 3:43 PM on November 29, 2004

Google Answers thread.

I think the best answer is that there's not enough information at this point. I find it at least plausible that sufficiently strong magnets could have some effect on the transmission of pain signals; accelerated healing due to static magnets seems rather less likely. But there just aren't enough studies covering a broad enough range of magnetic field parameters to be able to make any judgment either way.

The corollary is that the crap you can find on the internets has no evidence supporting its use. Well, except for "customer testimonials."
posted by Galvatron at 3:46 PM on November 29, 2004

If you smoke, stop. My bone doc couldn't figure out why it was taking so long for my broken hand to heal, until he remembered I was a smoker.

Plus your vitamins and minerals and such, as kindall said.

Magnets are for keeping stuff on the fridge door.
posted by QIbHom at 4:05 PM on November 29, 2004

Beating the acupuncture drum again...
It will help with the pain and with your healing speed.
OR the needles will freak you out so much you will forget about the pain for a while.
As always, go to an experienced acupuncturist and be sure to ask them about their orthopedic background.
posted by pomegranate at 4:21 PM on November 29, 2004

Response by poster: I just remember the big bottle of glucosamine/condrointin sitting next to my monitor. lol. Vitamins, check, have to go look for that co-enzyme and and an acupuncturist. No more pints of ben and jerrys and staying up till 5am playing half life 2. Ok, got it. Thank you all for the input, I kinda figured magnets were bullshit.
posted by clubfoote at 5:38 PM on November 29, 2004

Don't put the magnets in upside down, or it'll make things worse!


If your insurance is paying, or if you can afford it, I suggest you continue with physiotherapy, massage, acupuncture/healing touch/whatever, and the glucosamine.

Good luck. Hope you heal well.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:15 PM on November 29, 2004

And let's hear it for Acupuncture, too! Isn't interesting that:

The National Council Against Health Fraud (NCAHF) claims that of the 46 medical journals published by the Chinese Medical Association, not one is devoted to acupuncture or other traditional Chinese medical practices.

Or that:

The NCAHF issued a position paper on acupuncture that asserts, "Research during the past twenty years has failed to demonstrate that acupuncture is effective against any disease" and that "the perceived effects of acupuncture are probably due to a combination of expectation, suggestion, counter-irritation, operant conditioning, and other psychological mechanisms."

Magnets, needles, magic water, cure-alls, energy healing.. It's strange how our world is a combination of futuristic technology and old dark ages beliefs. But hey, if you think you feel better, it sure beats actually getting better, right? :)
posted by splice at 4:08 AM on November 30, 2004

The magnets won't hurt you. They probably won't do squat either. (No verifiable double-blind tests have been conducted that say otherwise)

Listen to your doctor(s), take your pills etc. Your body will do the rest.

Hope you get better soon!
posted by defcom1 at 10:55 AM on November 30, 2004

It's almost certainly nonsense, but if you plan to do it for whatever reason, at least use magnets that could, in fact, apply a magnetic field to your body.

As a good proof to debunk this theory that magnetic fields help your body, many of the products marketed as having shown a demonstrable effect apply absolutely NO magnetic field below even the top epidermal layer (sometimes none at all if they are padded!) They use fleximble magnets whose magnetic field extends perhaps a couple of mm past the bottom surface of the magnet.

If you plan to try this out, at least use proper magnets that exhibit a magnetc field that can penetrate your skin.

If you have an old CRT monitor or TV that you don't mind risking permanent damage to, you can check the strength of magnetic fields with it. A magnetic field will disrupt the deflection of the electroncs lighting up the phosphors on your monitor, causing distortion of the image. If you get too close with the magnet, you will permanently magnetize the shadow mask. Degaussing will take case of some problems related to this, but not all. So, don't do this with your shiny new trinitron monitor.
posted by shepd at 11:42 AM on November 30, 2004

Using magnets for healing purposes is bullshit, although I hear waving a dead chicken around will help enormously.
posted by bshort at 12:24 PM on November 30, 2004

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