Magnetism is used in medicine in such sophisticated devices as magnetic resonance imaging and in dentistry in the form of magnetic implants. The use of magnetism is no longer just confined to mainstream medicine; health claims are being made elsewhere. People are starting to wear magnetic jewelery and other forms of magnets. Claims are being made that magnets help in therapy for injuries, those that have created pain.
Some athletes are wearing flexible pads containing magnets in lumbar and knee supports. Also other areas of the body such as wrist, elbow and ankles. Magnets are also being sewn into clothing and being implanted into shoes. Golf seems to be a sport that has really embraced magnetic therapy, flexible magnets are available in most pro-shops these days. Why this form of therapy is so popular with golfers is hard to say, maybe it has just spread through the sport by word of mouth.
Historically the first recorded use of magnets is by the Greeks about 2500 years ago who use it to treat gout and muscle spasm. In Europe during the Middle Ages placed magnets on their skin believing they would disease out of the body. The current belief in magnetic therapy centers around red blood cells. These cells contain iron and the magnetic field generated by the magnet is claimed to stimulate them. This activity is said to oxygenate the cells causing faster healing. Magnets have also been credited with speeding up the release of lactic acid from the cells, therefore speeding up recovery after exercise. This may be one of the reasons they are popular with athletes.
Recent medical claims include: helping to heal broken bones, reduction in pain and stiffness, helping peripheral blood circulation, reducing clinical depression. Depending on the source you read claims have been made that 70% of people who try magnetic therapy experience some improvement in their condition. The medical world seems divided on the subject with fairly polarized opinions in the pro and anti lobby.
Advocates of magnetic therapy claim that when a charged particle travels through a magnetic field it produces an alternating current which creates heat which enlarges the blood vessels and improves the flow of oxygen and nutrients to an injured area. It should be noted hear there is little in the way of credible research to support this, but believers are convinced that this is indeed the case.
If you decide to buy some magnets to try this therapy for yourself. Choose one the reputable suppliers who list the strength of the magnet they are supplying. The strength of a magnet is measured in "Gauss" after the research of Carl Friedrich Gauss who lived in what is now Germany in the 18th Century. A fridge magnet is around 60 Gauss while most therapeutic magnets are rated around 300 to 500 Gauss. What power to buy for your specific condition is open to debate, all you can do is experiment and see if you get results.