21 Apr 2005, 03:42:49 PM

Reporter: Rohan Wenn

They have worked all their lives, raised their families, and now - if it was a just world - they would be able to enjoy a little rest and recreation in retirement. But to often, time on the bowling green has retirees seeing red thanks to the chronic pain of arthritis.

Dick Wickes knows a bit about chronic pain. He suffers from a condition called Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Syndrome, but a chance meeting with former Olympian Betty Cuthbert saw Dick's health and his career prospects looking up. "This thing fell on the ground and I just bent over picked it up and asked Betty what it was. She said it's my magic pillow, it's got magnets and gives off this lovely natural warmth", Dick said.

Ever since he has been manufacturing magnetic products he says can be used to relieve pain, and he points to recent medical studies to back up his claims. "We have such positive proof coming from leading doctors, not only in Australia, but in America, Japan, England, all over the world really", Dick said.

He claims the magnets affect the iron in the blood. "They claim the iron ions are attracted to the magnets in your haemoglobin and it just creates a lovely warm feeling", Dick said.

Grant Stevenson from the Sceptics Society is well, sceptical. "Why would you spend hundreds or thousands of dollars when there is no curtain outcome. I think there should be more research and more longer term studies", he said.

So we decided to do a little test of our own, with the help of six retirees. The trick is only half of them have magnets in then and you won't know who has the magnets and who doesn't.

We asked Cliff, Tess, Daphne, Gilda, Irene and Marshall to relate their current pain levels on a scale of one to five, then wear the knee support for six weeks, marking down how their knee feels each week.

Finally, after six weeks, we assembled our groups and asked them how they had been feeling: Irene and Daphne felt no improvement, but then again, they weren't wearing the knee supports with magnets; Marshall wasn't either, but he still felt an improvement.

Cliff and Tess were wearing supports with magnets and they both felt better, while Gilda, who also wore the magnet knee support, noticed a big drop in pain.

While our test was not exactly scientific, Dick says it is proof magnets seem to make life a little easier for people in pain, "We work with chronic pain sufferers and the results have been fantastic over the years", he said.

Dick Wicke's products are available at: (03) 9556 6677 or visit the website at: