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Magnetic Therapy Research: Healing


Effects of 180 mT static magnetic fields on diabetic wound healing in rats.

Jing D, Shen G, Cai J, Li F, Huang J, Wang Y, Xu Q, Tang C, Luo E.

Faculty of Biomedical Engineering, Fourth Military Medical University, Xi'an, China.

Diabetic wound (DW) problems are becoming a formidable clinical challenge due to the sharp increase in the diabetic population and the high incidence of DW. Static magnetic field (SMF) therapy, an inexpensive and accessible noninvasive method, has been proven to be effective on various tissue repairs. However, the issue of the therapeutic effect of SMF on DW healing has never been investigated. The objective of this study was to systematically evaluate the effect of a 180 mT moderate-intensity gradient SMF on DW healing in streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats. Forty-eight 3-month-old male Sprague-Dawley rats (32 diabetic and 16 non-diabetic rats) were assigned to three equal groups: normal wound, DW, and DW + SMF groups. An open circular wound with 1.5 cm diameter was created in the dorsum. The wound was covered with a dressing and the magnet was fixed on top of the dressing. On days 5, 12, and 19, four rats of each group were euthanized and gross wound area, histology and tensile strength were evaluated. The wound area determination suggested that SMF significantly increased the healing rate and reduced the gross healing time. This result was further confirmed by histological observations. The wound tensile strength, reflecting the amount and quality of collagen deposition, increased to a larger extent in the DW + SMF group on days 12 and 19 compared with the DW group.

The results indicated that 180 mT SMF presented a beneficial effect on diabetic wound (DW) healing, and implied the clinical potential of static magnetic field therapy in accelerating DW repair and releasing the psychological and physical burdens of diabetic patients.

Bioelectromagnetics. July 2010. Electronic publication ahead of print. PMID: 20607739.

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The effect of magnetic fields on wound healing: experimental study and review of the literature.

Henry SL, Concannon MJ, Yee GJ.

Division of Plastic Surgery, University of Missouri Hospital & Clinics, Columbia, MO.

OBJECTIVE: Magnets are purported to aid wound healing despite a paucity of scientific evidence. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effect of static magnetic fields on cutaneous wound healing in an animal model. The literature was reviewed to explore the historical and scientific basis of magnet therapy and to define its current role in the evidence-based practice of plastic surgery.

METHODS: Standardized wounds were created on the backs of 33 Sprague-Dawley rats, which were divided into 3 groups with either a 23 gauss magnet (group 1), a sham magnet (group 2), or nothing (group 3) positioned over the wound. The rate of wound closure by secondary intention was compared between the groups. Literature review was conducted through searches of PubMed and Ovid databases for articles pertinent to magnets and wound healing.

RESULTS: Wounds in the magnet group healed in an average of 15.3 days, significantly faster than those in either the sham group (20.9 days, P = .006) or control group (20.3 days, P < .0001). There was no statistically significant difference between the sham and control groups (P = .45).

CONCLUSIONS: An externally applied, low-power, static magnetic field increases the rate of secondary healing. Review of the literature reveals conflicting evidence regarding the use of magnetic energy to aid the healing of bone, tendon, and skin. Level I studies are lacking and difficult to execute but are needed to define conclusively the role of magnets in clinical practice.

Eplasty: Journal of Burns and Wounds. 2008 July. 25;8:e40. PMID: 18725953

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Effect of static magnetic field on deep wound healing of SD rats

[Article in Chinese]

Shen JG, Chen WS, Wang CX, Jiang T, Dong LQ.

Department of Orthopaedics, the Second Hospital of Zhejiang Chinese Medical University, Hangzhou 310005, Zhejiang, China.

OBJECTIVE: To investigate the effect of static magnetic field on deep wound healing of SD rats and VEGF during the wound healing and different strength static magnetic field on deep wound healing of SD rats.

METHODS: Divided forty-eight SD rats into three groups: 0.16 T magnetic disk treatment (0.16 T group), 0.32 T magnetic disk treatment (0.32 T group), control group. General wounds healing situation was observed on the 3, 6, 9, 12 day. The area of every wound was calculated. The tissue of granulation was dyeing by immune tissue chemical decoration method, in which VEGF protein content with its range in tissue was measured.

RESULTS: The healing index of 0.16 T magnetic group wounds were larger than that of control group on 6th and 9th day, there were statistical difference. The healing index of 0.32 T magnetic group wounds were larger than that of control group on 3rd, 6th, 9th and 12th day, there were statistical difference. The healing index of 0.32 T group wounds contrasted to that of 0.16 T group wounds had no statistical significance.

Observation of VEGF at the course of wound healing: the expressing of VEGF in magnetic group wounds on 3rd and 6th was stronger than in control group wounds, there were statistical difference. While there were no obvious difference between them on 9th and 12th day (P>0.05). But the contrast between that in 0.32 T group and in 0.16 T group had no statistical difference.

The expressing strength of VEGF in magnetic group reached the peak amplitude on the 6th day, and that in control group reached peak amplitude on 9th day. And the peak amplitude of magnetic group was stronger than that of control group.

CONCLUSION: Static magnetic disc of 0.16T and 0.32 T can promote deep wound healing of SD rats. The mechanism of static magnetic field promoting wound heal may be relative to the expressing highly of VEGF during early and middle time.

Zhongguo Gu Shang. 2009 May. 22(5):371-4. PMID: 19522401

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Static magnets prevent leg ulcer recurrence: savings for the NHS?

Eccles N. The Chiron Clinic, Harley Street Practice, London, UK.

The objectives of this survey were to examine the effectiveness of a static magnet device--4UlcerCare--in preventing recurrence of leg ulcers after healing. Two hundred and eighty-nine randomly selected purchasers of 4UlcerCare were telephoned and asked to complete a short questionnaire. Our focus was on the 211 respondents who had ulcers that had already healed. The average age of subjects was 70.6 years and sex distribution was 55% female to 45% male. Mean duration of leg ulcers before using 4UlcerCare was 4.4 years. Sixty-five per cent of those surveyed had had ulcer recurrence before using 4UlcerCare, with a mean of 2.41 episodes of ulceration. This was close to the expected recurrence rate in the population of 67%. Using 4UlcerCare daily, these respondents' ulcers had healed within an average of 3.57 months. The survey took place an average of 19.94 months after healing. The manufacturers advise wearing 4UlcerCare daily post-healing, and of those respondents that had, none had suffered any recurrence. Extrapolating these results across the health economy, an estimate has been made of a potential pound 153.7 million per year saving on leg ulcer care to the NHS.

Br J Community Nurs. 2006 Mar;11(3):S26, S28-30.

PMID: 16607239 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

Pilot Study below:

A pilot study to determine whether a static magnetic device can promote chronic leg ulcer healing.

Eccles NK, Hollinworth H.

The Chiron Clinic, London, UK.

OBJECTIVE: To determine if UlcerCare, a specialised self-securing static magnetic device, can promote the healing of chronic leg ulcers.

METHOD: This double-blind placebo-controlled pilot study involved 26 patients with chronic leg ulcers, receiving care consistent with RCN guidelines, who were randomly allocated to receive either UlcerCare leg wrap (treatment) or an identical sham non-magnetic device (control). Wounds were assessed for 12 weeks at four weekly intervals using digital photography, Verge Videometer analysis and patient questionnaires to determine changes in ulcer size, level of pain and function.

RESULTS: Statistically significant reductions in ulcer measurement were noted in the treatment group when compared with the placebo group.

CONCLUSION: The results demonstrate a significant healing effect in the treatment group. A larger randomised controlled study is recommended to investigate the effects on ulcer-associated pain and quality of life.

PMID: 15739653 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

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The influence of permanent magnetic field therapy on wound healing in suction lipectomy patients: a double-blind study.

Man D; Man B; Plosker H

Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, Laser Center, Boca Raton, Fla., USA.

The authors present their experience with the healing influence of permanent magnets on postoperative wounds.

The responses of 20 patients who underwent suction lipectomy and postoperative negative magnetic field therapy were studied in a double-blind fashion. Magnets in the form of patches (10 patients) or sham magnet patches (10 patients) were placed over the operative region in each of the patients. Pain, edema, and discoloration (ecchymosis) were evaluated at 1, 2, 3, 4, 7, and 14 days postoperatively.

Our results show that the treatment group had significant reductions in pain on postoperative days 1 through 7, in edema on days 1 through 4, and in discoloration on days 1 through 3 when compared with the control group.

These results demonstrated that commercially available magnets have a positive influence on the postoperative healing process in suction lipectomy patients.

Source: Plast Reconstr Surg 1999 Dec;104(7):2261-6; discussion 2267-8.

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Use of magnet therapy to heal an abdominal wound: a case study.

Szor JK, Topp R. Toledo Hospital, Ohio, USA.

Complementary therapies, in particular magnet therapy, may have benefits to offer in healing chronic wounds. This case study involves a 51 year old paraplegic woman with an abdominal wound that had been present for one year. Traditional approaches to wound care had not achieved complete healing. Prior to surgical intervention, the patient consented to the application of magnet therapy over her usual wound dressing. In one month, the wound completely healed. On the basis of this case, further investigation of magnet therapy for wound healing appears to be warranted.

Szor JK, Topp R (May 1998). "Use of magnet therapy to heal an abdominal wound: a case study." Ostomy/Wound Management. 44(5):24-9. PMID: 9697544

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Effect of weak, interrupted sinusoidal low frequency magnetic field on neural regeneration in rats: functional evaluation.

Bervar M. Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Maribor General Hospital, Maribor, Slovenia.

A study of the effect of weak, interrupted sinusoidal low frequency magnetic field (ISMF) stimulation on regeneration of the rat sciatic nerve was carried out.

In the experiment, 60 Wistar rats were used: 24 rats underwent unilateral sciatic nerve transection injury and immediate surgical nerve repair, 24 rats underwent unilateral sciatic nerve crush injury, and the remaining 12 rats underwent a sham surgery.

Half of the animals (n = 12) with either sciatic nerve lesion were randomly chosen and exposed between a pair of Helmholtz coils for 3 weeks post-injury, 4 h/day, to an interrupted (active period to pause ratio = 1.4 s/0.8 s) sinusoidal 50 Hz magnetic field of 0.5 mT. The other half of the animals (n = 12) and six rats with sham surgery were used for two separate controls.

Functional recovery was followed for 6 weeks for the crush injuries and 7(1/2) months for the transection injuries by video assisted footprint analysis in static conditions and quantified using a recently revised static sciatic index (SSI) formula. We ascertained that the magnetic field influence was weak, but certainly detectable in both injury models.

The accuracy of ISMF influence detection, determined by the one-way repeated measures ANOVA test, was better for the crush injury model: F(1, 198) = 9.0144, P = .003, than for the transection injury model: F(1, 198) = 6.4826, P = .012. The Student-Newman-Keuls range test for each response day yielded significant differences (P < .05) between the exposed and control groups early in the beginning of functional recovery and later on from the points adjacent to the beginning of the plateau, or 95% of functional recovery, and the end of observation. These differences probably reflect the ISMF systemic effect on the neuron cell bodies and increased and more efficient reinnervation of the periphery. Copyright 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

PMID: 15887258 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

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Accelerated closure of biopsy-type wounds by mechanical stimulation.

Irion GL, Stone S, Fischer T, Finch VP, Phillips LR, Frederickson C. Department of Physical Therapy, University of South Alabama, Mobile, AL, USA.

OBJECTIVE: To determine whether a device designed to provide low-intensity, low-frequency mechanical stimulation improves healing time of acute wounds.

DESIGN: Repeated measures using mechanical stimulation on one side of a rat and sham stimulation on the contralateral side.

SETTING: Academic animal facility.

PARTICIPANTS: Six male Sprague-Dawley rats, approximately 400 g.

INTERVENTION: Mechanical stimulation of 4-mm biopsy wounds in rats was produced through the use of permanent magnets cyclically attracted and repelled by activation of an electromagnet by a square wave generator at a frequency of 1 Hz and a force equivalent to 64 mm Hg pressure.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE: Days to complete closure of 4-mm biopsy punch wounds.

MAIN RESULTS: This form of stimulation reduced time to close the biopsy wounds by nearly 50%. Mechanically stimulated wounds closed in 3.8 +/- 1.6 days (mean +/- SD) compared with 6.8 +/- 1.9 days for sham-stimulated wounds (P = .0002).

CONCLUSION: Production of a mechanical stimulation device with a miniaturized controller and power source and trials on humans are needed to determine the efficacy and potential cost savings of such a device in the management of wounds.

PMID: 16557056 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

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Morphological evaluation of MRC-5 fibroblasts after stimulation with static magnetic field and pulsating electromagnetic field.

Pate K, Benghuzzi H, Tucci M, Puckett A, Cason Z.

University of Mississippi Medical Center, Jackson, MS 39216, USA.

The quality of tissue repair and the speed with which that repair can be accomplished are the two major variables in the healing of any injury. Today, magnetic field exposure to traumatized areas has shown to be a promising tool in the healing process. The exact mode of action by which radiating and unchanging magnetic fields still has to be elucidated. The objective of this study was to evaluate the morphology of MRC-5 fibro-blasts after stimulation with static and pulsating magnetic fields. Under sterile environment, a total of 24 wells were loaded with 50,000 MRC-5 cells each and further divided into three groups. Groups 1 and 2 were exposed to magnetic fields, static and pulsating respectively. Group 3 wells were unexposed and served as the control group. The cells were monitored at 0, 24, 48, and 72 hours and representative views were captured using digital analysis techniques. The live cells were screened for cellular mobility, cell distribution, and cellular morphology (size, shape, lysis, and background). After 72 hours, the supernatants and cells of all three groups were collected and MDA analysis was performed to determine possible cellular damage. Group 1 cells continued to grow at a reasonable rate, but there was substantial cell membrane damage (high MDA levels, p < 0.05). Group 2 cells appeared to be very stressed under these conditions especially at the initial phase (24 hours). In conclusion, the use of pulsating magnetic stimulation can be beneficial in the healing process of soft tissues.

Biomed Sci Instrum. 2003;39:460-5.

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Electromagnetic fields and magnets. Investigational treatment for musculoskeletal disorders.

Trock DH.

Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut, USA.

Certain pulsed electromagnetic fields (PEMF) affect the growth of bone and cartilage in vitro, with potential application as an arthritis treatment.

PEMF stimulation is already a proven remedy for delayed fractures, with potential clinical application for osteoarthritis, osteonecrosis of bone, osteoporosis, and wound healing.

Static magnets may provide temporary pain relief under certain circumstances. In both cases, the available data is limited. The mechanisms underlying the use of PEMF and magnets are discussed.

Rheum Dis Clin North Am. 2000 Feb;26(1):51-62, viii.

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Clinical effectiveness of magnetic field therapy - a review of the literature.

Quittan M, Schuhfried O, Wiesinger GF, Fialka-Moser V.

Universitatsklinik fur Physikalische Medizin und Rehabilitation, Wien.

To verify the efficacy of electromagnetic fields on various diseases we conducted a computer-assisted search of the pertinent literature. The search was performed with the aid of the Medline and Embase database (1966-1998) and reference lists.

Clinical trials with at least one control group were selected. The selection criteria were met by 31 clinical studies.

20 trials were designed double-blind, randomised and placebo-controlled. The studies were categorised by indications. Electromagnetic fields were applied to promote bone-healing, to treat osteoarthritis and inflammatory diseases of the musculoskeletal system, to alleviate pain, to enhance healing of ulcers and to reduce spasticity.

The action on bone healing and pain alleviation of electromagnetic fields was confirmed in most of the trials. In the treatment of other disorders the results are contradictory.

Application times varied between 15 minutes and 24 hours per day for three weeks up to eighteen months. There seems to be a relationship between longer daily application time and positive effects particular in bone-healing.

Patients were treated with electromagnetic fields of 2 to 100 G (0.2 mT to 10 mT) with a frequency between 12 and 100 Hz. Optimal dosimetry for therapy with electromagnetic fields is yet not established.

Acta Med Austriaca. 2000;27(3):61-8.

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Evolution of magnetic therapy from alternative to traditional medicine.

Vallbona C, Richards T.

Department of Family and Community Medicine, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas, USA.

Static or electromagnetic fields have been used for centuries to control pain and other biologic problems, but scientific evidence of their effect had not been gathered until recently. This article explores the value of magnetic therapy in rehabilitation medicine in terms of static magnetic fields and time varying magnetic fields (electromagnetic). A historical review is given and the discussion covers the areas of scientific criteria, modalities of magnetic therapy, mechanisms of the biologic effects of magnetic fields, and perspectives on the future of magnetic therapy.

Phys Med Rehabil Clin N Am. 1999 Aug;10(3):729-54.

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Pulsed magnetotherapy in Czechoslovakia - a review.

Jerabek J.

National Institute of Public Health, Praha, Czech Republic.

Pulsed magnetotherapy has been used in Czechoslovakia for more than one decade. It has been proved that this type of physical therapy is very efficient mainly in rheumatic diseases, in paediatrics (sinusitis, enuresis), and in balneological care of patients suffering from ischaemic disorders of lower extremities. Promising results have also been obtained in neurological diseases (multiple sclerosis, spastic conditions) and in ophthalmology, in degenerative diseases of the retina.

Rev Environ Health. 1994 Apr-Jun;10(2):127-34.

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Beneficial effects of electromagnetic fields.

Bassett CA.

Bioelectric Research Center, Columbia University, Riverdale, New York 10463.

Selective control of cell function by applying specifically configured, weak, time-varying magnetic fields has added a new, exciting dimension to biology and medicine.

Field parameters for therapeutic, pulsed electromagnetic field (PEMFs) were designed to induce voltages similar to those produced, normally, during dynamic mechanical deformation of connective tissues. As a result, a wide variety of challenging musculoskeletal disorders have been treated successfully over the past two decades.

More than a quarter million patients with chronically un-united fractures have benefitted, worldwide, from this surgically non-invasive method, without risk, discomfort, or the high costs of operative repair.

Many of the athermal bioresponses, at the cellular and subcellular levels, have been identified and found appropriate to correct or modify the pathologic processes for which PEMFs have been used. Not only is efficacy supported by these basic studies but by a number of double-blind trials.

As understanding of mechanisms expands, specific requirements for field energetics are being defined and the range of treatable ills broadened. These include nerve regeneration, wound healing, graft behavior, diabetes, and myocardial and cerebral ischemia (heart attack and stroke), among other conditions. Preliminary data even suggest possible benefits in controlling malignancy.

J Cell Biochem. 1993 Apr;51(4):387-93.

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Healing Value Of Magnets Demonstrated In Biomedical Engineering Study

University of Virginia. "Healing Value Of Magnets Demonstrated In Biomedical Engineering Study." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 7 January 2008.

A recent study demonstrates that the use of an acute, localized static magnetic field of moderate strength can result in significant reduction of swelling when applied immediately after an inflammatory injury. Magnets have been touted for their healing properties since ancient Greece.  Magnetic therapy is still widely used today as an alternative method for treating a number of conditions, from arthritis to depression, but there hasn’t been scientific proof that magnets can heal.

Lack of regulation and widespread public acceptance have turned magnetic therapy into a $5 billion world market.  Hopeful consumers buy bracelets, knee braces, shoe inserts, mattresses, and other products that are embedded with magnets based on anecdotal evidence, hoping for a non-invasive and drug-free cure to what ails them. 

“The FDA regulates specific claims of medical efficacy, but in general static magnetic fields are viewed as safe,” notes Thomas Skalak, professor and chair of biomedical engineering at U.Va. 

Skalak has been carefully studying magnets for a number of years in order to develop real scientific evidence about the effectiveness of magnetic therapy. 

Skalak’s lab leads the field in the area of microcirculation research—the study of blood flow through the body’s tiniest blood vessels.  With a five-year, $875,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health’s National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, Skalak and Cassandra Morris, former Ph.D. student in biomedical engineering, set out to investigate the effect of magnetic therapy on microcirculation.  Initially, they sought to examine a major claim made by companies that sell magnets: that magnets increase blood flow.

The researchers first found evidence to support this claim through research with laboratory rats.  In their initial study, magnets of 70 milliTesla (mT) field strength—about 10 times the strength of the common refrigerator variety—were placed near the rat’s blood vessels.  Quantitative measurements of blood vessel diameter were taken both before and after exposure to the static magnetic fields—the force created by the magnets.  Morris and Skalak found that the force had a significant effect: the vessels that had been dilated constricted, and the constricted vessels dilated, implying that the magnetic field could induce vessel relaxation in tissues with constrained blood supply, ultimately increasing blood flow. 

Dilation of blood vessels is often a major cause of swelling at sites of trauma to soft tissues such as muscles or ligaments.  The prior results on vessel constriction led Morris and Skalak to look closer at whether magnets, by limiting blood flow in such cases, would also reduce swelling.  Their most recent research, published in the November 2007 issue of the American Journal of Physiology, yielded affirmative results.

In this study, the hind paws of anesthetized rats were treated with inflammatory agents in order to simulate tissue injury.  Magnetic therapy was then applied to the paws.  The research results indicate that magnets can significantly reduce swelling if applied immediately after tissue trauma. 

Since muscle bruising and joint sprains are the most common injuries worldwide, this discovery has significant implications.  “If an injury doesn’t swell, it will heal faster—and the person will experience less pain and better mobility,” says Skalak.  This means that magnets could be used much the way ice packs and compression are now used for everyday sprains, bumps, and bruises, but with more beneficial results.  The ready availability and low cost of this treatment could produce huge gains in worker productivity and quality of life.

Skalak envisions the magnets being particularly useful to high school, college, and professional sports teams, as well as school nurses and retirement communities. He has plans to continue testing the effectiveness of magnets through clinical trials and testing in elite athletes.  A key to the success of magnetic therapy for tissue swelling is careful engineering of the proper field strength at the tissue location, a challenge in which most currently available commercial magnet systems fall short.  The new research should allow Skalak’s biomedical engineering group to design field strengths that provide real benefit for specific injuries and parts of the body. 

“We now hope to implement a series of steps, including private investment partners and eventually a major corporate partner, to realize these very widespread applications that will make a positive difference for human health,” says Skalak.

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