Do Magnets Really Relieve Foot Pain?

I am greatly interested in relief for my foot pain. Please share with me any information on relieving foot pain with the use of magnets.

Harry Hoe
Middlesboro, Kentucky


Diabetic foot pain is usually secondary to peripheral neuropathy. This is an incapacitating disorder usually involving both feet and producing symptoms of numbness, tingling and burning. It is often progressive and conventional therapy with drugs is usually ineffective or associated with unacceptable side effects.

Since the peripheral nervous system is magnet sensitive, I speculated that constant magnetic stimulation could possibly reduce these uncomfortable symptoms. In my first study, published in January 1998 in the American Journal of Pain Management, eight people with diabetes and six subjects with peripheral neuropathy wore magnetic foot pad insoles for 24-hour periods up to four months. The strength of these devices was 470 gals. Surprisingly, 75 percent of the people with diabetes and 50 percent of the nondiabetics showed improvement in foot pain.

A second study was performed in January 1999, and was again published in the American Journal of Pain Management. In this study, 10 people with diabetes and nine nondiabetics with peripheral neuropathy completed a four-month trial. Ninety percent of the people with diabetes and 33 percent of the nondiabetics showed improvement in foot pain. Improvement was observed in 22 to 38 percent of the placebo subjects.

In view of these two provocative studies, a national, multicenter study was started in July. It only looks at the diabetic population with peripheral neuropathy. Currently, there are 29 sites in 17 states, and seven podiatric medical centers are participating. This large study will attempt to test 200 patients in a double-blind, placebo-controlled manner. The study is anticipated to last one year.

If the promise of these two early pilot studies can be validated by this national study, it will establish a legitimacy for magnet stimulation and should encourage future research designs.

Michael I. Weintraub, MD, FACP, PC
Chief of Neurology, Phelps Memorial Hospital
North Tarrytown, New York

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