Magnetic Stimulation in Painful Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy
Dr. Michael Weintraub (Jan 1999)
A study conducted by Dr. Michael I. Weintraub, a clinical professor of neurology at New York Medical College, has found that magnetic therapy insoles seem to provide significant pain relief to diabetics who suffer from a condition called peripheral neuropathy. The study tested how well nerves conduct pain signals from the feet and whether the application of magnetic insoles showed positive results for patients.
Twenty-four participants took part in a well-designed scientific study, which was published in the American Journal of Pain Management. The participants wore magnetic therapy insoles 24 hours a day. Then they rated their subjective pain twice a day for a period of 4 months. Nineteen of the patients completed the study.
The study was designed so that one foot had a placebo, or fake, insole and the other foot used a real magnetic therapy insole. After a month the insoles were switched so that the fake and magnetic insoles were on opposite feet.
After the first month, when the insoles were blindly switched, the participants reported a slight and almost equal reduction in pain in both feet. However, differences began to show up in the following 3 months due to cumulative effects, according to Dr. Weintraub. By the conclusion of the trial, 9 out of 10 of the diabetics taking part in the study reported reduced pain by an average of a whole point. In the nondiabetic group, 3 out of the 9 reported a similar reduction in pain. The placebo effect was about the same in both groups, with only 22% overall reporting a benefit.
Dr. Weintraub said he believes that the magnetic field targets the small C-fiber nerves located in the soles of the feet, and that the magnetic field creates ionic flux and electric energy, which then calm the small nerves which were made hyperactive by disease. However, that theory, he acknowledged, remains unproven. There are a few theories how the magnet therapy works, but the bottom line is that no one still really knows.