Magnetic Shoe Inserts do NOT Reduce Foot Pain

October 14, 2003

Magnetic Treatment: Fact or Fiction

Magnets -- can they reduce pain? Many people think they can. In fact, people in the US spend $500 million each year on magnetic devices to relieve pain. However, few experiments support the belief that magnets have the ability to reduce pain and the Food and Drug Administration has not approved magnets for treating pain or other disorders.

Magnets Tested

Researchers, led by Dr. Mark Winemiller of the Mayo Clinic (Rochester, MN), have put magnets to the test in a new experiment. They investigated the usefulness of magnetic shoe insoles to relieve foot pain. The scientists tested 101 people (80 women, 21 men) who had foot pain. The amount of pain each person had was measured before they received either a magnetic insole (experimental group) or a non-magnetic insole (control group). Neither the subjects nor the experimenter knew if the insoles where magnetized or non-magnetized. The subjects wore the insoles in their shoes for eight weeks (at least four hours each day, four days each week). Each person rated his or her pain at four weeks and eight weeks after using the insoles.

No Effect

At NO time during the experiment did the experimenters find any significant differences in pain between the experimental and control groups. Pain in people in both groups improved over time: at four weeks, 44% of the people who wore non-magnetized insoles and 31% of the people using magnetized insoles reported that their pain was all or mostly better. At eight weeks, 33% of the people using magnetic insoles and 35% of the people using non-magnetized insoles said their pain was all or mostly better.

Save Your Money?

Magnetic insoles cost between $20 and $60...according to this new research, magnets may be attracting money, but they are not relieving pain.

Reference and other information:

  1. Winemiller, M.H., Billow, R.G., Laskowski, E.R. and Harmsen WS. Effect of magnetic vs sham-magnetic insoles on plantar heel pain: a randomized controlled trial. Journal of the American Medical Association, 290:1474-1478, 2003.
  2. Ionized Bracelets: Do They Work on Pain? - from Neuroscience for Kids
  3. Questions and Answers About Using Magnets To Treat Pain - from the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine

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