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Magnets Powerless On Pain?

Americans spend a half a billion dollars a year on magnetic devices to treat pain. But a new study in this week's Journal of the American Medical Association says magnets may be wasted money.

The Early Show Medical Correspondent Dr. Emily Senay gave details on the new findings, with tips for beating the pain.

Senay says the JAMA study looked at 100 people with plantar fasciitis, which is a condition that causes foot pain. The researchers found that the people in the group who used magnets didn't report a difference in their discomfort level compared to people who didn't use foot magnets — showing the magnets didn't appear to work.

This study focused on magnets and foot pain. But, Senay says, people use magnets on many other parts of the body. Earlier studies had shown some types of magnets can relieve some types of pain. But, Senay explains that those studies all had significant methodological flaws. She says experts now believe that while magnets don't appear to have any adverse effects, there is no concrete evidence to prove that they really work.

For hundreds of years magnets have been touted as a way to relieve aches and pains. Proponents believe that magnet therapy may improve circulation, increase blood oxygen, decrease deposits of toxic materials in blood vessel walls, including cholesterol, and relax the blood vessels. Other theories say that magnets alter nerve impulses, reduce fluid retention, increase endorphins and relax the muscles. But again, Senay explains, no studies have definitively proven that magnets work.

Senay provides the following proven tips on what people can do to get rid of their foot pain:

This is the first line of defense. If your feet are hurting, get off of them and give them a break.

Use Arch Supports
Arch supports are also known as orthotics, and they are placed inside your shoes. Orthotics work by keeping your arches from rolling and are very effective at combating foot pain. You can buy them at a drug store or have them specially made by your doctor.

Many people find relief from foot pain when they gently stretch the affected area. But, Senay says be sure not to push yourself too hard because you could end up making the pain worse.

Use Ice Packs
Ice packs are something that you want to use to temporarily relieve foot pain. But, Senay says to make sure you don't use an ice pack that's too cold, because you could end up damaging the skin.

Use Over-The-Counter Pain Relievers
Over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen are very effective at easing foot pain. Make sure you follow the directions when using any drugs.

Reduce Body Weight
The less weight you have the less pressure you are putting on your feet. So if you are overweight, Senay says you may find some relief by losing those extra pounds.