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Is it safe to use magnets if I've had a joint replaced?

Q) I have osteoarthritis in most joints and have had one hip and one knee replaced, but provided I do the majority of my physical activities before 2 pm I can cope with a few painkillers. Is it safe to use a magnetic device? I read they shouldn't be used by anyone with a metal prosthesis. Would I benefit?
Dorothy Pirkis, Storrington, West Sussex (Autumn 2005)

A) There's some evidence of benefit for wrist-mounted magnets in arthritis, but it's not very strong. Although generally safe, don't use any magnet therapy products if either you or your partner have a heart pacemaker, hearing implant or any other implanted electronic device as the weak magnetic field can affect the way they work. Most joint replacements are made from non-ferrous metals so there's not a problem using them in this circumstance.

This answer was provided by Dr Philip Helliwell for the Autumn 2005 edition of our magazine, Arthritis Today, and was correct at the time of publication.

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