We get many enquiries from people wanting to know how magnets might help after surgery and particularly for nerve regeneration.
The most relevant study looking at the use of static magnets post-surgery is by Man et al. This showed reduced postoperative pain, less need for pain medication and faster recovery. See summary of study here and references below.
Another post-surgery study was by Cepeda which showed no benefit with the use of Quadrapolar magnets. Now the non-thinking sceptic who skims through the results of this study, will make the claim that “this proves magnetic therapy doesn’t work”. But all it proves is that the type of magnet used in this way to treat this condition, doesn’t work.
In fact it does tell us something useful, that if you are going to use magnets after surgery to potentially help with pain relief, faster healing and reduced pain medication, then don’t place the magnets around the wound because none of the field is going to reach the site of the surgery. For best results, use them over the bandages and over the site of the wound.
Most of the studies showing benefits of magnetic fields on nerve regeneration are from Pulsed Electromagnetic Field therapy (PEMF). Also these studies tend to be on cells, chicken embryos and other animals because it’s difficult to find volunteers to damage their own tissue for controlled studies and get ethics approval!
In-vitro studies (cell studies) have shown that Quadrapolar magnets can reduce neuronal swelling by stabilising cell membranes.
A study by Sisken et al, looked at the effects of a static magnetic field on the growth of a dorsal root ganglion (DRG) harvested from chick embryos. A large 1,000 Gauss (0.1 Tesla) magnet was used with DRG’s set at different distances so that the three groups were exposed to 900, 450 and 225 Gauss fields. In a developing nerve model and with the addition of nerve growth factor, the stronger the field, the greater the nerve healing.
In another study by Suszynski they looked at the regeneration of peripheral nerves in rats with PEMF at 40Hz at magnetic strengths of 20-80 μT, 80-150 μT and 150-300 μT. Using the Sciatic Functional Test, there were big improvements with the stronger magnetic fields.
Whereas a study by Kelleher on nerve repair of peripheral nerves in sheep showed no improvement with the use of magnets.
There is no good evidence that static magnets may assist with nerve regeneration.
Cepeda, M., et al. (2007). “Magnetic Therapy does not decrease pain or opioid requirements: A randomized double-blind trial.” Anesth & Analg 2007;104:290-294. PMID: 17242082
Man, D., et al. (1999). “The influence of permanent magnetic field therapy on wound healing in suction lipectomy patients: a double-blind study.” Plast Reconstr Surg Dec;104(7):2261-6. PMID 11149796; doi:10.1097/00006534-199912000-00051
Kelleher, MO et al (2006). Use of a static magnetic field to promote recovery after peripheral nerve injury. J Neurosurg 2006 Oct;105(4):610-5 PMID: 17044566
Sisken, BF., et al (2007). Influence of static magnetic fields on nerve regeneration in vitro. The Environmentalist Dec 2007;27(4):477-81 http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs10669-007-9117-5
Suszynski, K. et al (2014). Variable spatial magnetic field influences peripheral nerves regeneration in rats. Electromagn Biol Med 2014 Sep: 33(3):198-205 PMID: 23781984
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