Randomised controlled clinical trial of magnet use in chronic low back pain: a pilot study

J. Langford, P. W. McCarthy*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)



Chronic low back pain (CLBP) is one of the most common pain states seen in general medicine today. However, there are currently few, if any, reliable modalities that can be used in its treatment. Magnets are in common use as a therapeutic modality in the relief of a number of pain states. However, the validity of this use is relatively untested, with the effects of magnets on CLBP having not been studied previously.


To investigate the potential usefulness of static magnetic field therapy in the relief of CLBP.


A prospective, blinded, randomised, controlled clinical trial.


Welsh Institute of Chiropractic, University of Glamorgan.


Twelve CLBP patients (symptoms for more than 3 months) who were participating in a spinal rehabilitation clinic at the Welsh Institute of Chiropractic (WIOC). None of the subjects had any neurological deficit, or any known underlying pathological problems.


A belt containing two small ‘Neomax’ disc magnets (either 1.20 ± 0.05 T in the active or 0.5 ± 0.05 T in the inactive group) was given to each patient. This was applied continually for the 4 weeks of the trial.

Outcome measures:

Oswestry disability questionnaire, a visual analogue pain scale (VAS), as well as left and right lateral lumbar flexion.


Ten subjects completed the study. VAS scores showed a strong trend (p = 0.05) towards a decrease in pain in the active magnet group. However, no significant change was seen in either the Oswestry or lumbar flexion results.


Although the numbers in this study were small, they illustrate the possibility that VAS could be decreased in these patients. This suggests that there may be some worth in using magnets to symptomatically relieve CLBP.

The results support a larger scale study of static magnetic field application in chronic low back pain.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)13-19
Number of pages7
JournalClinical Chiropractic
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2005


  • Adult human
  • Chiropractic
  • Chronic low back pain
  • Lumbar range of motion
  • Rehabilitation
  • Static magnetic therapy


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