Q: I have heard of arthritis magnets or healing magnets that relieve osteoarthritis pain. Is there scientific evidence that sleeping on a magnet-filled mattress pad will help with OA pain?

A: One very small study has suggested a magnet-filled mattress pad would help, but this would need to be replicated before I would recommend you pursue this therapy. Another study, conducted by Harvard University researchers on people with knee OA, found that those who wore a sleeve containing a high-powered magnet over the affected knee reported greater pain relief after four hours than those wearing a placebo knee sleeve.

For the most part, however, studies of arthritis magnets or “healing magnets” for osteoarthritis pain have been inconclusive. In 2007, an analysis by British researchers of 29 studies of static magnets suggested there was no significant difference in pain reduction between people using magnets and placebo. The authors, who published their findings in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, concluded: “For osteoarthritis, the evidence is insufficient to exclude a clinically important benefit, which creates an opportunity for further investigation.”

My suggestion would be to consider purchasing a magnet to wear over the area of the body where you need pain relief before making a more substantive investment in a magnetic mattress pad.

Daniel Clauw, MD, Rheumatologist