Case Study: Pain management using alternative therapy with emphasis on magnetic therapy

Summary

Chronic pain and advancing old age have a strong ongoing relationship. People become debilitated with constant pain. Doctors can temporarily suppress such pain, but it reappears frequently. Patients try all kinds of methods of treatment. Some use Allopathic treatments, while others prefer Homeopathic, Ayurvedic, and Naturopathic remedies.

In my practice, I was frequently using non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), which would help initially in lowering the intensity of pain, but as the disease progressed, the effect of the drugs would gradually decrease. I was also using intra-articular steroids, but they had only a temporary effect.

Criteria for selection of patients in this study:

  • Adults more than 18 years of age
  • Both male and female
  • Complaints of joint pain
  • Co-morbidities other than cancer

Modalities of treatment used:

  • Tiens Magnet therapy
  • Hydrotherapy
  • Diet control
  • Physical exercise

Background

I was greatly touched by the sufferings of my patients from chronic pain. I believe patients get involved in a cycle: inactivity or sedentary life style leads to obesity, stiffness of joints, and some may develop osteoarthritis with[s2If !is_user_logged_in()]…

[/s2If][s2If is_user_logged_in()] aging and a progressive increase in pain with movement, then the patient tends to become more sedentary and inactive, and the cycle continues. So I developed this study with the primary aim of increasing the activity of my patients, increasing circulation in their joints, and making their bodies more flexible, in order to decrease pain—without giving non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or steroids, which cause more harm to the patients than cure.

Case Presentation

I had patients in all age groups, but mostly more than 50 years of age, with chronic pain, especially in weight-bearing joints, who were obese and leading a more-or-less sedentary life style, sitting 8 hours per day at their jobs, and with no exercise on weekends. Most of them were suffering from co-morbidity like hypertension, non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus, and coronary artery disease. Many of those above 65 years of age, had signs of osteoarthritis in weight-bearing joints in x-rays.

The common factors in all of these patients were obesity and inactivity.

Investigations

Some of the basic tests done—keeping in view that the patient has to pay for these tests—were the following:

  • Complete Blood count with ESR
  • Rheumatoid factor
  • C-Reactive Protein
  • HLA B27
  • ANA
  • X-ray of the joints

Treatment

I developed a strategy to deal with all of these patients. Instead of giving drugs, under monitoring, they were made to do daily half-hour exercises. People with back ache would wear a back belt while running. I emphasized slow running rather than walking, and I preferred running on treadmill as the best option.

I used a Tiens magnet, and placed it on acupuncture points for 2-3 minutes. The effect of this magnet was improved microcirculation in that area. This helped in rejuvenating the inactive joint.

This method was invented based on ancient Chinese acupuncture therapy and magnetic therapy. A focused magnetic cluster will function through the skin upon the acupoint. It will promote circulation of blood in micro-vessels and adjust disturbance in the magnetic field. This invention won a Golden award in “96 Beijing International Invention Exhibition” and at “The First Session International Einstein New Invention Exhibition.”

I emphasized a vegetarian diet and was able to guide my patients to such a diet through proper and frequent counseling. There was a drastic change in their Body Mass Index (BMI). My patient felt light, their activity improved, and with every ten pound loss in weight, there was a significant decrease in pain. Besides this, I also gave them counseling to avoid smoking, alcohol intake, and fast food. All of this changed their way of living, their attitudes, and some became counselors for others with similar problems.

I modified the diet, based on each patient’s requirement. Instead of three meals per day, they were allowed 4 to 5 meals, with more boiled vegetables fortified with fruits and milk, and with plenty of water.

I supplemented this with hydrotherapy. The patients were asked to exercise using light weight or against light resistance in a warm water shower for 10 to 15 minutes daily, particularly exercising the joint which was in pain.

Outcome and Follow-Up

After 2 to 3 weeks of therapy, I began to see gradual reductions in pain and swelling, and the patients became more active.

On physical examination, there was a decrease in tenderness and swelling, and an increased range of movement.

Most importantly, I could see their happiness, and that they changed to an active lifestyle from their sedentary habits.

It was a significant achievement in the way patients responded to these therapies. We did not fix any end date for this research project and asked patients to continue with this therapy themselves. We trained them in magnet therapy and exercise. Our dietician gave them a cooking class to train them to cook without using oil, to avoid any non-vegetarian foods, and to use plenty of milk and curd.

We introduced modification in their lifestyles: eating healthy food; regular exercise; avoiding sedentary lifestyle, smoking, and alcohol; and increasing day-to-day physical activity.

Discussion

My emphasis was on Alternative Health therapy, to effectively manage and cure the disease, modifying the lifestyle of my patients, and preparing them to maintain this lifestyle to achieve the greatest benefit and freedom from intractable pain. Similar studies have been done, where alternative therapies were used in the form of Yoga and meditation augmented with acupuncture, with very good results.

The most important thing about this treatment is that there are no side-effects and no contraindications. And every age group of patient can freely participate with a bare minimum financial investment.

Similar studies were done in Ebnezer Orthopedic center, Bengaluru, using Yoga as an alternative therapy to reduce pain and improve activity in patients suffering from osteoarthritis of knee joints. The results were significantly encouraging.

Another study conducted at the University of Virginia, to acknowledge the effect of Magnetic therapy on the chronic painful disease, Fibromyalgia, showed positive results.

A highly publicized 3-month study of 194 people, using magnetic bracelets reduced osteoarthritis pain in weight-bearing joints: the knee and hip.

In a double blind study conducted on post-polio syndrome patients, out of 50 patients, 76% showed improvement compared to 19% placebo group.

Another 12-week, placebo-controlled, double-blind, crossover study of 19 people suffering from peripheral neuropathy showed significant reduction in symptoms.

A controlled trial of 64 rheumatoid arthritis patients involving the knee joint, in a double-blind study, compared the effect of a strong alternating-polarity magnet (or treatment group) with a weak unipolar magnet (placebo group). After 7 days of therapy, 68% of patients using the strong alternating-polarity magnet showed an extreme decrease in pain, as compared to 27% in placebo group.

Myofascial pain syndrome is like fibromyalgia, but more concentrated in a specific small area of body. One controlled trial demonstrated that repetitive magnetic stimulation of tender points involving the trapezius muscle was very effective in reducing pain.

Thirty patients of Multiple Sclerosis underwent a double-blind, placebo-controlled, 2-month trial, involving a PEMF device emitting a pulsing magnetic field. Patients were asked to tape the device to one of three different acupuncture points on back, hip, or shoulder. There was significant reduction in intensity of symptoms related to muscle spasticity, bladder control, and hand function.

Learning Points/Take Home Messages

There is a term in our medical field, which we call “Disuse Atrophy,” which means that if you are not using your joints, there will be decreased blood supply in that area, which can lead to slow degeneration of that joint. This ultimately will lead to progressive pain with no cure.

For every one from young to old, healthy or not – do regular exercise, move your joints at least half an hour daily.

Avoid fatty food, involve yourself with more outdoor activities, stay connected with nature, and try to avoid drugs, smoking, and alcohol.

About The Author

sarkarDr. Rajesh Sarkar is a Clinical Research Associate with Florida Family Physician and a permanent member of the Indian Medical Association. After completing his MBBS, he did DNB in Medicine, Post graduate certificate course in Psychiatry and Psychosexual medicine and Industry program in Clinical Trial Research and Administration from India. Later he joined the University of California, Santa Cruz to complete a post-graduate course in Clinical Trial Design and Management. He was working with Telome Health Inc., doing research on DNA telomere length in average healthy American population and its shortening (Length of Telomere) associated with different kinds of cancer. Presently he is working on a study related to “Depression, Obesity and how it affects HBA1C levels in Diabetes”.

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Colbert AP, Markov MS, Banerji M, et al. Magnetic mattress pad used in patients with fibromyalgia: a randomized double blind pilot study. J Back Musculoskeletal Rehabilitation, 1999; 13: 19-31.

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Vallbona C, Hazlewood CF, Jurida G. Response of pain to static magnetic fields in Post-polio patients: a double blind pilot study. Arch. Phys. Med. Rehabil. 1997; 78: 1200-1203

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Segal NA, Toda Y, Huston J, et al. Two configurations of static magnetic fields for treating rheumatoid arthritis of the knee: a double blind clinical trial. Arch. Phys. Med. Rehab, 2001; 82: 1453-1460. http://download.journals.elsevierhealth.com/pdfs/journals/0003-9993/PIIS0003999301462265.pdf

Smania N, Corato E, Fiasschi A, et al. Repetitive magnetic stimulation: a novel therapeutic approach for myofascial pain syndrome. J Neurol. 2005 Feb 23.

Richards TL, Lappin MS, Acosta-Urquidi J, et al. Double blind study of pulsing magnetic field effects on multiple sclerosis. J Altern Complement Med. 1997; 3: 21-29. http://therapy.epnet.com/nat/GetContent.asp?siteid=EBSCO&chunkiid=21789

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