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Magnet therapy

Shonky for using weak health claims to pull on hip pockets

Magnetic therapy promises to take away or relieve pain through placing weak static magnets at pain points around the body.

A magnet that removes pain? With such a bold claim, you'd hope for some type of evidence, but there's a clear lack of studies that prove these devices aren't simply placebos. For example, in a meta-analysis of nine placebo-controlled and randomised trials, professors at the Complementary Medicine Centre from the Universities of Exeter and Plymouth found that "the evidence does not support the use of static magnets for pain relief, and therefore magnets cannot be recommended as an effective treatment".

Magnetic therapy devices are often found in major chemists or online, and two of the most prominent brands are Dick Wicks and BioMagnetic Sport. When looking on their websites you'll find they also point out that their devices aren't medical treatments. The wording is normally to the effect of "Information provided within this site is not a substitute for medical care". But you'll have to dig past lots of pain relief 'claims' to get to the medical disclaimer. From arthritis and carpal tunnel to headaches, there's a magnet for almost every type of pain.

BioMagnetic Sport offers this advice in its online FAQs for people wondering if their device is working: "If you have been using your BioMagnetic Sport product for a few days or even weeks and you don't feel it is helping with your injury but it has been less than 28 days, please continue to use the product as directed." It's a pretty shonky move, and one that could leave Australians suffering for longer than needed – or worse, if there's a serious, underlying medical condition.

More pain from high price points

However, it doesn't end at bad advice. Many of the magnetic products on offer will also yank on your bank balance. For example, at the top of the range, a king-size premium wool magnetic underlay from Dick Wicks will set you back almost $500, while the magnetic muscle wrap from BioMagnetic Sport is $45.95, which is much more expensive than common sports tapes and straps.

Some of the wackier products in an eyebrow-raising product range are the Dick Wicks ear orbs (RRP $14.95) that claim to "instantly transform all your old earrings into natural drug free magnetic therapy products", not to mention suppress appetite and food cravings. Aren't most earrings already drug-free?

There are also magnets for cats, dogs and horses, including a horse rug (RRP $229.95) that promises to "repel pain and attract soundness".

If you're suffering from any type of pain or condition, it's always best to see a medical professional rather than spend money on wearable or close-proximity magnetic devices from companies like Dick Wicks and BioMagnetic Sport. The only thing these magnets will relieve you of is the money from your wallet.

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