Magnetotherapy: what it is and what it is used for

Magnetotherapy is an alternative therapy that uses magnetic fields to treat bone fractures, skin injuries, pain and inflammation


  • What's this
  • How it works and what it is for
  • Where and how much it costs
  • Contraindications and side effects

What's this

Magnetotherapy is an alternative therapy used to treat various problems of an inflammatory nature, especially affecting the skin, bones and joints. This is a technique used for several years, which uses low and high frequency magnetic fields generated by magnets that are applied to the areas to be treated.

According to the creators and promoters of magnetotherapy, in fact, magnetic fields are able to bring benefits to the body thanks to the interaction with cellular electrical charges and the restoration of the resting membrane potentials of damaged cells. Magnetotherapy is used above all for its remineralizing action on the bones, for its vasodilating, analgesic, anti-inflammatory, anti-edematous, spasmolytic activity and to speed up the healing processes of bones and soft tissues.

Although magnetotherapy is a technique not recognized by official medicine, it is widely used to reduce inflammation and relieve pain in cases of wounds, fractures, arthritis, osteoarthritis, muscle and joint pain, osteoporosis, fibromyalgia. In particular, low-frequency magnetotherapy is indicated to treat osteoporosis and bone fractures, while high-frequency magnetotherapy is applied in the case of inflammatory states that cause pain and edema.

How it works and what it is for

Our cells are characterized by an electric charge that is generated thanks to the presence of positive and negative ions such as sodium, chlorine, potassium, calcium, magnesium. The electric charge inside the cells is different from the electric charge on the outside and this generates a difference in charge, known as the resting membrane potential. The resting membrane potential can be altered when the cell suffers damage and the alteration causes malfunction in the cell and tissues. Magnetotherapy is based on the generation of a magnetic field capable of restoring the altered resting membrane potential in damaged cells, favoring healing. In addition, the magnetic fields generated, acting on calcium and iron bound to hemoglobin, would improve bone mineralization and act by counteracting inflammation.

Magnetotherapy uses two magnets connected to an energy generator via cables. These magnets can be inserted inside a machine for systemic action on the whole body, or housed in supports such as anklets, wristbands, blankets or bands to be placed on the neck, back or other areas of the body, for targeted treatments. The frequency of the magnetic field can be adjusted, therefore the treatments can be carried out at low frequency, i.e. at frequencies between 5 and 100 Hz, or at other frequencies, therefore at frequencies between 18 and 900 MHz.

Low-frequency magnetotherapy would be useful for promoting calcium assimilation and stimulating bone mineralization and is used in the treatment of fractures and osteoporosis, but also as an adjuvant therapy in pain and stiffness caused by joint diseases. Magnetotherapy is therefore used to restore the functionality of the affected joints, in combination with adequate rehabilitation exercises.

High-frequency magnetotherapy would instead be able to interact with the iron present in hemoglobin, therefore it is used to promote blood circulation in the treatment of inflammatory states and degenerative joint disorders. By improving circulation, in fact, it increases the supply of blood, oxygen and nutrients and chemotaxis at the level of inflammation, reducing pain and swelling and speeding up the healing process. In some cases, magnetotherapy has been used to increase the effectiveness of radiotherapy sessions against certain types of tumors, including breast cancer.

Magnetotherapy is therefore indicated to treat various disorders and pathologies including:

  • Bone fractures
  • Osteoporosis
  • Athritis and arthrosis
  • Ostarthrosis of the hands, knees, spine
  • Neck pain, lumbosciatalgia, back pain
  • Rheumatic diseases
  • Muscle aches
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Sinusitis
  • Lower limb ischemia
  • Wounds, sores, skin lesions and burns
  • Edema

Although many people report obtaining benefit from this type of therapy, at the moment the scientific studies carried out have given mixed results regarding the effectiveness of magnetotherapy.

Where and how much it costs

Magnetotherapy is generally practiced in private clinics and rehabilitation centers but can also be done at home, by purchasing or renting the equipment. A magnetotherapy treatment includes cycles of at least ten sessions; a session normally lasts thirty minutes and costs an average of 30 euros. There are also cases in which the sessions can last a few hours or situations that involve longer treatment cycles.

Contraindications and side effects

Magnetic therapy is considered a non-invasive, painless, safe and side-effect-free technique. However, this type of treatment is contraindicated for pregnant women and for pacemaker wearers.

Complementary Therapies in Medicine
Bio Electro Magnetics
International Journal of Radiation Biology

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