You Docs: Magnets Are a Revolutionary Way to Relieve Pain

Physicians have long known that "the body electric" is for real: Tiny electrical currents and magnetic fields are constantly firing off inside you. We just haven't known how to harness these forces for healing. But a handful of scientists and medical innovators have relentlessly pursued this.

They're succeeding, using something few docs know much about. It's not a new pill or operation; it's magnets. Not the kind you stick on the fridge, but pulsating electromagnets. They produce invisible energy waves that increase blood flow and normalize some electrical impulses to and in nerves. One Food and Drug Administration-approved device - yep, they're that far - relieves more than 50 per cent of post-operative pain. Nobody appreciates what a godsend that is like an anesthesiologist (Dr. Mike) and a surgeon (Dr. Oz). Well, nobody except every surgery patient who's woken up to a world of hurt. Called the Torino, this post-op pain zapper is so new that even MDs who've vaguely heard of it probably think it's a new car.

How do devices that use a pulsed electromagnetic field (PEMF) relieve post-op pain and - you're about to get as excited as we are - intractable back, neck, foot and arthritis pain? Your nerves, cartilage, spinal fluid, bones, muscles and blood all rely on a symphony of dancing ions. PEMFs activate these electrically charged particles in ways that seem to turn off inflammation and turn on cell repair.

PEMFs rev up production of nitric oxide, which increases blood flow to the targeted area. The combo stimulates an anti-inflammatory cascade that, in the Torino's case, not only halves post-op pain but also reduces swelling and speeds healing.

PEMF therapy also coaxes badly broken bones to mend that otherwise might not. When you break something, electrical "injury" currents rush through your bone, signalling instructions for knitting it back together. But in nasty breaks, that process short-circuits. To re-create the currents, surgeons implant electrodes into mangled bones. Not much fun, plus you look like Frankenstein. Enter PEMF mats, bandages and knee braces, which stimulate healing currents. Aim PEMFs at the damaged zone for eight to 30 minutes, two to four times a day, and you'll heal better, faster. Side effects? Zero, at least in the short term. The products are still too new to know whether there are long-term issues. (Full disclosure! Dr. Oz has no financial interest in any PEMF companies. Neither does Dr. Mike, but he's so excited about its medical potential that he may invest in one.) So why hasn't your doc even mentioned PEMF? Three reasons:


Docs are repelled by "medical magnet" charlatans selling bracelets, migraine goggles and shoe inserts, which are as healing as sugar cubes.


Few physicians know a thing about how cells, nitric oxide and inflammation are affected by PEMF.


It takes so much time and money to prove medical devices are safe and effective that only two PEMF gizmos have earned FDA approval so far. Since neither is owned by a drug company with mega advertising bucks, your doc likely hasn't heard a word about them.

What does PEMF feel like? "Nothing," says one person who has "tried everything" for back pain. "You don't feel anything. Except immediately better." What if you or someone you love wants to try PEMF for pain that won't quit?

• Consider only devices that use pulsed electromagnetic fields.

• For your convenience, a list of PEMF products and info about them, including a knee brace for arthritis and a body mat for back pain, are on www.DoctorOz.com The YOU Docs, Mehmet Oz, host of "The Dr. Oz Show" and Mike Roizen of Cleveland Clinic, are authors of "YOU: Losing Weight." For more information go to www.RealAge.com 2011 Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D.

Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

You Docs: Magnets Are a Revolutionary Way to Relieve Pain 1

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