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August 2, 2000

Are Magnets Effective for Pain Control?—Reply

Author Affiliations

Stephen J.LurieMD, PhD, Contributing EditorIndividualAuthor

JAMA. 2000;284(5):564-566. doi:10.1001/jama.284.5.561

In Reply: We agree with Drs Burkhart and Burkhart that one of the potential sites of electromagnetic radiation's effect is the lipid membrane surface of cells. We would like to point out, however, that the magnetic field from permanent magnets is not the same as electromagnetic radiation. Instead, it is a simple static magnetic field.

In response to Dr Weintraub, Table 1 in our article includes additional diagnoses found in our patients. The single patient with fibromyalgia also had low back pain that was consistent with spondylosis. It is true that imaging findings associated with spondylosis, as well as herniated disks, are often found in asymptomatic individuals.1 However, it does not follow that our patients, with these findings should be asymptomatic. We feel that the pain from spondylosis is well accepted and certainly more so than "failed back surgery syndrome."2,3 The issue of secondary gain is present in all studies of patients with pain. We made an effort to exclude individuals who were actively seeking disability payments or involved in litigation. In practice, it is impossible to avoid the influence of ubiquitous secondary gain.4 We look forward to the results of Weintraub's nationwide study.

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