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Magnetic Therapy Research: Foot Pain and Diabetic Neuropathy


Electrotherapy for the treatment of painful diabetic peripheral neuropathy: a review.

Pieber K, Herceg M, Paternostro-Sluga T.

Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Medical University of Vienna, General Hospital Vienna, Vienna, Austria.

OBJECTIVE: To review different types of electrotherapy for the treatment of painful diabetic peripheral neuropathy.

METHODS: A structured search of the electronic database MEDLINE was performed from the time of its initiation to July 2009. Articles in English and German were selected.

RESULTS: The efficacy of different types of electrotherapy for painful diabetic peripheral neuropathy has been evaluated in 15 studies; the effects of transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) are consistent. The beneficial effects of prolonged use have been reported in three large studies and one small study. The effects of frequency-modulated electromagnetic neural stimulation were assessed in one large study, and a significant reduction in pain was reported. Treatment with pulsed and static electromagnetic fields has been investigated in two small and three large studies, and analgesic benefits have been reported. In one large study focusing on pulsed electromagnetic fields, no beneficial effect on pain was registered. Only small studies were found concerning other types of electrotherapy, such as pulsed-dose electrical stimulation, high-frequency external muscle stimulation or high-tone external muscle stimulation. The conclusions drawn in these articles are diverse. Shortcomings and problems, including a poor study design, were observed in some.

CONCLUSION: Further randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled studies comprising larger sample sizes, a longer duration of treatment, and longer follow-up assessments are required.

Journal of Rehabilitation Medicine. April 2010. 42(4):289-95. PMID: 20461329

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Static magnetic field therapy for symptomatic diabetic neuropathy: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial.

Weintraub MI, Wolfe GI, Barohn RA, Cole SP, Parry GJ, Hayat G, Cohen JA, Page JC, Bromberg MB, Schwartz SL; Magnetic Research Group.

Department of Neurology, New York Medical College, Valhalla, NY, USA.

OBJECTIVE: To determine if constant wearing of multipolar, static magnetic (450G) shoe insoles can reduce neuropathic pain and quality of life (QOL) scores in symptomatic diabetic peripheral neuropathy (DPN).

DESIGN: Randomized, placebo-control, parallel study.

SETTING: Forty-eight centers in 27 states.

PARTICIPANTS: Three hundred seventy-five subjects with DPN stage II or III were randomly assigned to wear constantly magnetized insoles for 4 months; the placebo group wore similar, unmagnetized device.

INTERVENTION: Nerve conduction and/or quantified sensory testing were performed serially.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Daily visual analog scale scores for numbness or tingling and burning and QOL issues were tabulated over 4 months. Secondary measures included nerve conduction changes, role of placebo, and safety issues. Analysis of variance (ANOVA), analysis of covariance (ANCOVA), and chi-square analysis were performed.

RESULTS: There were statistically significant reductions during the third and fourth months in burning (mean change for magnet treatment, -12%; for sham, -3%; P<.05, ANCOVA), numbness and tingling (magnet, -10%; sham, +1%; P<.05, ANCOVA), and exercise-induced foot pain (magnet, -12%; sham, -4%; P<.05, ANCOVA). For a subset of patients with baseline severe pain, statistically significant reductions occurred from baseline through the fourth month in numbness and tingling (magnet, -32%; sham, -14%; P<.01, ANOVA) and foot pain (magnet, -41%; sham, -21%; P<.01, ANOVA).

CONCLUSIONS: Static magnetic fields can penetrate up to 20mm and appear to target the ectopic firing nociceptors in the epidermis and dermis. Analgesic benefits were achieved over time.

Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2003 May;84(5):736-46.

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A Double-Blind Study Demonstrating Therapeutic Benefit of Magnets In Heel Pain Symptomology

Larry Seaman, DPM

Barry University School of Podiatric Medicine, Miami, Florida

To determine the effectiveness of permanently magnetized pads for the treatment of heel pain syndrome. A double-blind study was performed on patients who have had symptoms in the above areas for at least two weeks. --- Permanently magnetized and demagnetized pads will be applied to the symptomatic feet without the patient of the clinician able to differentiate due to identical appearing pads. Only an impartial referee is aware of the true identity of each pad.


The bipolar pads to be used are rectangular and are 53 mm x 83 mm and produce about 300 gauss of magnetic current. An identical number of factory demagnetized pads of identical dimensions were also used for the study.


Twenty patients were initially studied using the bipolar pads on their symptomatic feet. All patients were seen at the foot clinics of the Barry University School of Podiatric Medicine. The age of patients varied from age 21 to age 78. The sex of the patients was noted, but not thought to be a significant factor in the study.

The patients tested had either heel spur or acute planter fasciitis symptoms such as, acute, burning, or sharp pain on the heel area. All patients had local symptoms without neurological damage to their back or lower extremities. Patients who underwent foot surgery within the past year were not included. Patients who had metallic implants, such as screws or wires in their feet were excluded. All patients underwent two weeks of therapy and two weeks of minimum follow-up after the treatment.


Criterion A: Subjective pain sensation.
Criterion B: Ability to ambulate without pain.
Criterion C: Need for pain or anti-inflammatory medication.
Criterion D: Accompanying therapy.


Criterion A: Subjective relief of symptoms.

Magnetized pads: Fourteen patients

Excellent = 5
Good = 3
Fair or no better = 6

Demagnetized pads: Six patients

Excellent = 1
Good = 0
Fair or no better = 5

Criterion B: Ability to ambulate without pain.

Magnetized pads: Fourteen patients

Excellent = 7
Good = 4
Fair or no better = 3

Demagnetized pads: Six patients

Excellent = 1
Good = 1
Fair or no better = 4

Criterion B and C = All patients in the study did not need medications or physiotherapy.


Criterion A: Subjective relief of pain = 57.2%
Criterion B: Improvement in walking = 77.1%
Criterion C: Need for medication = 0%
Criterion D: Need for physiotherapy = 0%


Criterion A: Subjective relief of pain = 16.6%
Criterion B: Improvement in walking = 16.6%
Criterion C: Need for medication = 0%
Criterion D: Need for physiotherapy = 0%


The indication groups for all trial criteria showed a significantly higher therapeutic effectiveness with the magnetized pads than the control groups (demagnetized pads). The best results were achieved with reduction in subjective pain in the heel spur syndrome category. 57.2% of all test persons in this category treated with magnetized pads expressed significant relief of symptoms.

The patients who showed increase in ability to walk without pain after treatment represented a 77.1 % improvement rate ~with the magnetized pads versus a 16.6% improvement reported by those with the demagnetized pads. This percentage represented a placebo effect.


The patient group in all criteria showed a higher percentage of favorable results with the magnetized pads than the demagnetized pads. The application of the pads to the treatment areas produced no side effects or skin irritation.

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Effect of magnetic insoles on postural sway measures in men and women during a static balance test.

Suomi R, Koceja DM.

School of Health, Exercise Science and Athletics, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point 54481, USA.

Numerous anecdotal reports have suggested a growing public enthusiasm for magnetic devices for treatment of pain and various motor and sensory dysfunctions. Although the principles behind magnetic therapy are well documented, a complete technical explanation of whether static magnet application is effective is lacking due to a paucity of scientific research. In this study the effectiveness of magnetic insoles on postural sway measures during a single application were investigated. Twenty-eight adults (14 old, 14 young) were assessed on postural sway measures while performing a static two-legged stance test on a Kistler force platform under two treatment conditions (magnetic insoles, nonmagnetic insoles). Significant reductions in total sway area and lateral sway scores were obtained by the older adults while standing on the magnetic insoles. These preliminary results indicate that treatment of postural instability using magnetic insoles may be a viable alternative for older adults.

Percept Mot Skills. 2001 Apr;92(2):469-76.

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Clinical evaluation of the effective use of magnetic fields in podology.

Simoncini L, Giuriati L, Giannini S.

Unita Operativa Recupero e Rieducazione Funzionale, Ospedale Maggiore, Bologna.

The use of magnetic fields in medicine has obtained encouraging results and it has stimulated the research conducted so that the use of this method of treatment may be better and more widespread. A double blind study was conducted to evaluate the effectiveness of the generation of magnetic fields on edema and on pain in patients submitted to surgery for bilateral hallux valgus.

Chir Organi Mov. 2001 Jul-Sep;86(3):243-7.

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