Magnet Treatment for Carpal Tunnel

Carpal tunnel syndrome results from any condition that narrows your carpal tunnel, which runs along the inside of your wrist in the direction of your fingers, according to The tunnel sheaths an important nerve that sends nerve signals and feeling to your fingers. When compressed due to injury, repetitive flexing and extension of the fingers--or illnesses such as diabetes, arthritis and some hormonal disorders--pain, numbness and possibly weakness of the entire hand can result.

The use of magnets for wrist pain goes back centuries to ancient China. (Image: Wavebreakmedia/iStock/Getty Images)


Consumer Health Reviews defines magnet treatment as a non-medical therapy for pain relief. It's non-invasive and works more toward influencing your body's response to pain than on the pain itself.


The Chinese originally conceived the therapeutic use of magnets more than two millenniums ago as part of their belief in Chi, the ebb and flow of the body's life force. Asian countries continue to use magnet treatment as an integral part of medicine today. Western civilizations were slower to embrace the concept but do use magnetic resonance imaging to aid in the healing of broken and fractured bones. Ancient Egyptians, Hippocrates and 15th-century chemist Paracelsus also documented the use of magnetic therapies.


Magnetic fields have the capacity to affect charged particles in your blood, which theoretically can cause your blood to move and can create heat, according to Consumer Health Reviews. This makes your blood vessels dilate and widen. Blood flow improves around the carpal tunnel, removing toxins and bringing in fresh nutrients. It may also affect nerve impulses responsible for pain and relax wrist muscles.


Magnets can be placed against the front of the wrist and against your carpal tunnel simultaneously. They are available as self-adhesive strips and wrist wraps, according to Aetna's website, Intelihealth.

Research indicates that magnet therapy doesn't provide the same relief for carpal tunnel syndrome that more conventional therapies do. The U.S. National Department of Medicine also reports on a 2002 clinical trial involving 30 carpal tunnel syndrome patients that showed no difference in pain levels between those using real magnets and those using placebo magnets. However, Consumer Health Reviews cites a 1997 study reported in the Journal of Rheumatology that supports its use in relieving arthritis pain, so magnets may have some effect on pain.


Never begin magnet treatment for your carpal tunnel problem if you have a pacemaker, defibrillator or any other kind of implanted medical device. Aetna warns that magnets can potentially affect their function and cause life-threatening problems. Aetna also advises that pregnant women or anyone suffering from a bleeding disorder should consult a physician before attempting this treatment.

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