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The Clinical Effectiveness of Magnets for People with Osteoarthritis: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis

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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A systematic review of the published (AMED, CINAHL, MEDLINE, EMBASE, PubMed and the Cochrane Library) and unpublished literature (WHO International Clinical Trials Registry Platform, Current Controlled Trials and the United States National Institute of Health Trials Registry,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; effectiveness; knee; non-pharmacological; osteoarthritis; randomised controlled trial; systematic review

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: August 1, 2013

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  • Current Rheumatology Reviews publishes frontier reviews on all the latest advances on rheumatology and its related areas e.g. pharmacology, pathogenesis, epidemiology, clinical care, and therapy. The journal's aim is to publish the highest quality review articles dedicated to clinical research in the field.

    The journal is essential reading for all researchers and clinicians in rheumatology.
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