The Clinical Effectiveness of Magnets for People with Osteoarthritis: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis
Toby O. Smith, Toby Meek, Jane Cross and Caroline B. Hing
Affiliation: Queen's Building, School of Allied Health Professions, University of East Anglia, Norwich Research Park, Norwich, NR4 7TJ, UK.
Osteoarthritis is the most prevalent musculoskeletal disorder, affecting millions of people worldwide. There has
been limited consensus on the use of magnets for this condition. This study specifically assessed the evidence pertaining
to the use of static magnets to manage symptoms in people with osteoarthritis.
A systematic review of the published (AMED, CINAHL, MEDLINE, EMBASE, PubMed and the Cochrane Library) and
unpublished literature (WHO International Clinical Trials Registry Platform, Current Controlled Trials and the United
States National Institute of Health Trials Registry, Open Grey) was undertaken to July 2013. All studies assessing the
clinical effects of static magnets as a therapeutic intervention for adults with osteoarthritis were included. Methodological
quality was assessed using the PEDro appraisal tool. When appropriate, meta-analysis was conducted to pool data.
From a total of 301 citations, six studies met the eligibility criteria. These included 374 participants, 220 allocated to a
magnet group, 154 to a placebo control. The findings indicated that magnets did not significantly reduce pain or medicine
requirement nor enhanced function, joint proprioception or muscle strength compared to placebo (p>0.05). There was limited
evidence that higher strength magnets may have a greater effect on pain than lower field strength magnets. However,
the quality of the current evidence-base was limited and underpowered.
The longer-term outcomes of magnet use and limited control of field strength within the current literature suggests that
further, adequately sample-sized, randomised controlled trials to assess dose-response are initially required to begin to
rigorously assess the efficacy of this intervention with people with osteoarthritis.
Keywords: Magnetic, osteoarthritis, knee, effectiveness, non-pharmacological, randomised controlled trial, systematic review.
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