Treating Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and Tendonitis Using Magnet Therapy

Magnetic elbow wrap used for treating tendonitis.
Many people, at one time or another, will suffer from what are known as repetitive strain injuries (or RSIs).  These types of injuries generally occur as a result of repetitive physical movements and motions which, over an extended period of time, can result in damage to muscles and tissues which connect bones and muscles, such as tendons and ligaments.  Certain jobs and vocations make people more susceptible to these injuries, such as movers and musicians.  Their characteristic RSI injuries generally happen because of the specific tasks and motions that they repeatedly perform, day-after-day.

Additionally, the ever-growing increase of the use of computers and keyboards has also significantly contributed to the recent epidemic of RSIs of the hands, wrists, and arms. The prolific and constant use of pointer devices, like mice, are thought to be the primary cause. The action of performing countless, fast repetitive motion of making keystrokes, along with extended periods of gripping and dragging a mouse, slowly, but inevitably results in cumulative damage to the body's connective tissues of the arms and hands.

Tendonitis, which is the most common type of RSI, is most often reported to occur in the hands, wrists, and elbows, although the connective tissues of any joint in the body could potentially suffer from it, depending on what type of repetitive action is being made. There are other conditions often associated with inflamed tendons, such as the condition called tenosynovitis.

Tendonitis generally results in constant, long-term pain and tenderness. The resulting scarring of the connective tissues often restricts the function of the affected limbs, and doesn't allow a sufferer to be able to move through their entire, normal range of motion. The increase in both pain and stiffness is usually somewhat gradual and cumulative, except in the case of the RSI being the result of a quick, sudden tearing. The most widespread and common factor that these injuries share is that a gradual overloading of the tendons occurs due to a repetitive motion without sufficient recovery time.

The carpal tunnel is a pathway which goes through the wrist created by the eight bones of the wrist, along with the transverse carpal ligament, a thick piece of connective tissue which stretches across the top of the pathway. Inside this tunnel are tendons that attach to the forearm muscles and are used to flex your appendages. Also, the median nerve, goes through this tunnel.

Carpal tunnel syndrome, an increasingly presenting condition, is caused by pressure exerted on the the median nerve.  This is generally the result of  the tendons becoming swollen enough to fill in this pathway. This nerve also tends to be extremely sensitive to pressure. Repeated extending and flexing of the wrist is usually the cause of the inflammation, which, over time, often results in excessive pressure being placed on the nerve.

The primary goal when treating RSI's, including both tendonitis and carpal tunnel syndrome, is to first try to relieve the inflammation and swelling surrounding the tendons, nerves, muscles and other tissues.  Then, to aid in the repair of the damaged tissues. While traditional treatments generally center around the use of pain-killers, rest, splints, or even surgery, magnetic therapy acts to treat the core inflammation, which is perpetuating the injury. Typical magnet therapy treatments will generally include:

Treating RSIs with Magnetic Therapy

While treating RSIs, magnets should generally be placed directly over the area of the injury. Generally, some type of wrap, bandage, or other magnetic therapy device is used to affix the magnets, as they can also give some support in addition to the magnet therapy. An RSI located in the back is often treated using a magnetic therapy back support. Results are often felt fairly quickly as the magnetic field acts to relieve the inflammation which is squeezing the nerve endings.

Magnetic Therapy for Tendonitis

Most often located in the joins of the arms, tendonitis is often treated with straps wrapped around the joint, or sometimes by using magnetic jewelry. If magnet therapy jewelry is worn around the wrist and the tendonitis is located in the elbow then the jewelry would have to be quite strong for the magnetic field to penetrate to the area of the injury. The strength of a magnetic field grows weaker the farther you get from the source of the field. For this reason, when treating tendonitis located in the elbow, a therapy device, such as a magnetic therapy elbow brace, should be used instead of jewelry.

Treating Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal tunnel syndrome always occurs in the wrist and is generally simple to treat using a wrist support or a magnet therapy bracelet. Like other conditions, magnetic therapy must be used all day and night in order to get the maximum benefit. This is especially true of carpal tunnel syndrome, as the majority of the symptoms are felt at night (tingling, cramping, numbness, and swelling).

Magnetic Therapy Used in Ancient Times

History of magnetic therapy.
Throughout history, people have found magnetism to be an enigmatic and captivating force of nature, and, even from the earliest records of mankind, magnetism was thought to be beneficial for the health of the body and the mind.

One of the origins stories of the word "magnet" states that it came about as a result of an ancient shepherd, named Magnes, who it is claimed, was the very first person to discover that certain stones had the ability to attract objects made of iron. Another origin story indicates that this event took place somewhere in what is currently the country of Turkey.  Although, it used to be referred to as Magnesia.

We now refer to magnetic stones as "magnetite."  However, at one time, they were known to the ancient Greeks as Herculean Stones (name after the mythological hero Hercules).  The ancient Romans called them living stones.  In later times the substance came to be known as lodestone.

The ancient Greeks speculated that the invisible energy fields created by magnetic rocks were a form of "mineral soul," and found it very fascinating. The famous philosopher and scientist Aristotle came to thought that such magnetic minerals could potentially be used to help physicians in curing conditions such as headaches and other bodily pain.

A famous, ancient Greek physician, known as Galan, had left accounts of having achieved success at treating patients suffering from a whole host of various ailments using magnets.  The Egyptian queen, Cleopatra was famously known to have become convinced of the healing and restorative properties of these mysterious stones.  It is often claimed that, in fact, she regularly wore a magnetic stone over her forehead to help preserve her vitality and beauty.

In both the ancient Indian and Chinese civilizations, there were a number of proponents and practitioners of early forms of magnetic therapy, and it is possible that they discovered its health benefits and applications before even the ancient Greeks and Egyptians.

In China, the traditional knowledge indicates that health and wellness are directly, and significantly, influenced by an energy called the Qi, that continuously surrounds us and flows throughout our bodies. Sicknesses and disorders of both the body and mind are said to be caused by imbalances in this energy. From early times, they utilized both acupuncture needles and magnetic stones to aid in unblocking and balancing this energy.

 Ancient medical tomes and writings from early Chinese dynasties make numerous references to magnetic stones that had amazing healing properties, and were able to both improve health and help to provide relief for those suffering from pain.

In fact, magnetic therapy has continued to be a popular therapy widely used throughout the eastern world and, even in contemporary times, they are often confused about western doubts regarding magnetic therapy, as well as other therapies defined as "alternative," in the west.

You can read more about the interesting history of magnetic therapy, including ancient history, the renaissance, and more contemporary history.

Magnetic Therapy for the Treatment of Tinnitus

Magnetic therapy for treating tinnitus.
During recent years, scientists have investigated and documented a myriad of beneficial uses for repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (rTMS) including the treatment of schizophrenia, multiple sclerosis, PTSD, Parkinson's disease, and OCD. One result discovered was that low frequency rTMS decreased auditory hallucinations in those who suffer from schizophrenia. A study is currently underway which will utilize rTMS to stimulate the brains of stroke victims in order to attempt to restore lost or damaged speaking ability.

A team of scientists at the Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, at the University of Regensburg, Germany have performed a series of studies using rTMS on people who suffer with tinnitus. Eleven people had a PET (Positron Emission Tomography) scan to locate areas of increased metabolic activity within the cortex. This was combined with a structural MRI scan to specifically locate the regaions of increased activity. A neuronavigational system was created for rTMS to allow pinpoint positioning of the magnetic coil over the target area.

The study had a controlled cross-over design. In other words, participants would be subjected to either the actual rTMS or a placebo treatment, then switch over to the other. Participants were unaware of the tinnitus stimulation. A specially created fake coil was used for the placebo treatment.

In 10 of the 11 participants the scientists were able to locate an increase in the metabolic activity within the left superior temporal fold of the auditory cortex. At the end of five days of rTMS treatment, a significant improvement of the tinnitus scores were reported utilizing the standard tinnitus questionnaire. This reported improvement was not found after the fake stimulation. These study findings were presented at the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery Foundation annual conference in September, 2003.

It now seems that rTMS therapy displays much promise and could be the next major development in electrical stimulation for treating tinnitus without having the negative side effects of invasive therapies and damaged hearing. There still remain a number of unanswered questions, including; Is it safe? How long will the suppression last for? Will it be effective for all types of tinnitus? The goal is that future research will be able to answer these and many other questions.

rTMS is currently being regularly used to treat to patients in a number of countries throughout the world, a notable exception being the US. The FDA has not yet approved rTMS for regular use and has required monitoring by local review boards, limiting its use to clinical trials and non-cortical stimulation treatments.

Source: International Tinnitus Journal.