Static Magnetic Field Therapy: A Critical Review of Treatment Parameters
Static magnetic field (SMF) therapy, applied via a permanent magnet attached to the skin, is used by people worldwide for self-care. Despite a lack of established SMF dosage and treatment regimens, multiple studies are conducted to evaluate SMF therapy effectiveness. Our objectives in conducting this review are to: (i) summarize SMF research conducted in humans; (ii) critically evaluate reporting quality of SMF dosages and treatment parameters and (iii) propose a set of criteria for reporting SMF treatment parameters in future clinical trials. We searched 27 electronic databases and reference lists. Only English language human studies were included. Excluded were studies of electromagnetic fields, transcranial magnetic stimulation, magnets placed on acupuncture points, animal studies, abstracts, posters and editorials. Data were extracted on clinical indication, study design and 10 essential SMF parameters. Three reviewers assessed quality of reporting and calculated a quality assessment score for each of the 10 treatment parameters. Fifty-six studies were reviewed, 42 conducted in patient populations and 14 in healthy volunteers. The SMF treatment parameters most often and most completely described were site of application, magnet support device and frequency and duration of application. Least often and least completely described were characteristics of the SMF: magnet dimensions, measured field strength and estimated distance of the magnet from the target tissue. Thirty-four (61%) of studies failed to provide enough detail about SMF dosage to permit protocol replication by other investigators. Our findings highlight the need to optimize SMF dosing parameters for individual clinical conditions before proceeding to a full-scale clinical trial.