Muscle cramps and magnetic fields : a review of the literature and a clinical case study



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Systremma, or leg cramps, is a non-serious but common complaint usually associated with certain diseases or under certain body conditions. Whenever possible the underlying cause of the cramp is treated; otherwise numerous pharmacological treatments are prescribed to promote symptomatic relief but with limited success. Clinical reports propose an alternative physical treatment involving the use of magnetic fields to reduce systremma. As in other remedies based on folk medicine, this treatment warrants investigation to determine if. its effectiveness has a physiological or psychological basis. This paper presents a review of literature on systremma, noting the limitations of the present therapies. Included is a case study, an attempt to verify whether a reported reduction of cramping was due to a magnetic effect or to a placebo effect. The was a 64-yr. old woman in relatively good health with a past history of thrombophlebitis. Five cramps were treated with a magnet; 5 more were treated with a steel bar (placebo). Magnetically-treated cramps and placebo-treated cramps were compared to each other and to baseline cramp measures, using mean cramp durations and mean cramp severities. Analysis of data yielded no conclusions.