Disclaimer: This is presented for information only. Inclusion does not constitute an endorsement of the therapies and/or treatment. Individuals should consult with their physicians as to its applicability in their personal situation.
A new and ever increasingly popular method of treating a myriad of diseases is magnetic therapy. I have included a section on it because of reader interest, questions and a simple desire to bring as much information as I can to those with lymphedema.
I must admit however, I was a skeptic before research and I am still unconvinced that the use of magnetic fields, magnetic polarities etc has any real medical value. In presenting the articles that follow, the reader is free to form their own conclusions.
What bothers me the most is the lack of solid double blind clinical studies that will substantiate evidence that this type of therapy actually works. The one done at Baylor University is itself, clouded in controversy. I have found not concrete evidence that it improves lymphatic flow, resolves lymphatic blockages, reverses fibrosis of subcutaneous tissues or prevents any of the other complications associated with lymphedema.
Not long ago, a member of an online support group proudly announce she was going to buy a magnetic bracelet because she had heard it would help lymphedema. Her reasons were three fold. First, she felt, as a patient she was "taking control" of her medical condition, Secondly, she was giving a black-eye to the terrible world of evidence based medicine by seeking a treatment outside their dark domain and finally, she felt this would be a repudiation to those monster "big-money" pharmaceutical companies.
How sad, I thought that this person, any person would place their health in danger to pursue such a dangerous course. It is estimated by now that magnetic sales are reaching a half billion dollar mark in the US alone. To me that equals big money, especially since it comes at the expense of the health of so many desperate people seeking effective treatment for their medical condition. Also, every bit of information we have learned about the lymph system, lymphedema and such comes directly from this "terrible" world of evidence based medicine and its research.
Ever more important is that we once and for all need to recognize that there is no magic bullet, no magic pill, no magic cure for lymphedema. Indeed, if there were, we would all be lined up to buy it. There simply is no replacement at the present time for a treatment protocol of manual decongestive therapy, compression bandages, compression garments and a compliant patient who is willing to take the time necessary for proper management...a patient who does so because they as a person are worth it.
However, please do not abandon your physician or your lymphedema therapist to undergo this therapy. This is not meant to take their place.
As of today's update, there is still no clinical evidence to support the claim the magnetic therapy is of any value to lymphedema patients. Therefore, I simply can not recommend this therapy to anyone.
What is Magnetic Therapy ?
During the past few years, magnetic devices have been claimed to relieve pain and to have therapeutic value against a large number of diseases and conditions but what is the scientific evidence ?
Pulsed electromagnetic fields -- which induce measurable electric fields -- have been demonstrated effective for treating slow-healing fractures and have shown promise for a number of other conditions. However, few studies have been published on the effect on pain of small, static magnets marketed to consumers
Pulsed electromagnetic field therapy has also been evaluated in the treatment of soft tissue injuries, with the results of some studies providing evidence that this form of therapy may be of value in promoting healing of chronic wounds (such as bedsores), in neuronal regeneration, and in many other soft tissue injuries.
Different Types of Magnets
Both ferrite and rare-earth magnets, unlike earlier magnetic materials such as steel, have great resistance to demagnetization, allowing thin disks to be magnetized. This feature allows modern magnets to be mounted in a variety of thin products that can be applied to the body with the magnetic field emanating from the surface.