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Arthritis Bracelets: Do They Really Work?

If you suffer from persistent arthritic pain, you’ll go to any length to get relief. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one out of every four persons with arthritis has severe joint pain, and nearly half of those with arthritis have…

If you suffer from persistent arthritic pain, you’ll go to any length to get relief. According to the CDC, one out of every four persons with arthritis has severe joint pain, and almost half of those with arthritis have chronic pain. So, if you heard that wearing a wonderful piece of jewellery – a “arthritis bracelet” — might make you feel better, you’d try it, right?

What Exactly Are Arthritis Bracelets?
The tradition of wearing therapeutic copper or magnetic wristbands to relieve diseases is not new; it may possibly extend back to ancient times. Copper is a trace mineral that aids in the formation of red blood cells and the maintenance of bone health. The premise behind wearing it as a bracelet is that little quantities of copper will rub off on your skin and enter your bloodstream, boosting your body’s copper levels and maybe alleviating arthritic symptoms. Static magnets, whose magnetic field is considered to attract molecules in the body and maybe enhance circulation, have a similar premise.

The idea of using copper to cure arthritis has recently expanded, with arthritis bracelets, insoles for shoes, and even arthritis gloves (which have been proved to benefit) all including copper or magnets.

Do Arthritis Bracelets, on the other hand, Work?
No: The usefulness of copper or metal wristbands for arthritis is just not supported by science. According to rheumatologist Nilanjana Bose, MD, an assistant professor at the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) and a member of the American College of Rheumatology, “it is hypothesised that copper and magnets may help decrease pain and inflammation from arthritis.” “In my perspective, this is not a well-supported theory. Copper or magnets have not been demonstrated to help with arthritic pain in studies.”

Karen Jacobs, EdD, OT, OTR, CPE, FAOTA, an occupational therapist who deals with arthritis patients on a daily basis, likewise does not suggest them. “There isn’t any scientific studies to support the usage of copper wristbands,” adds Jacobs, who is also a clinical professor at Boston University. “A review of the research suggests that wearing a copper bracelet does not lessen pain or edoema.”

Here’s what scientists discovered. Researchers at the University of York in the United Kingdom conducted the first randomised controlled trial to evaluate copper bracelets and magnetic wrist bands around five years ago. Over a five-month period, 70 rheumatoid arthritis patients with symptoms wore copper, magnet, or placebo wristbands and commented on how they felt; they were also given blood tests to monitor inflammation levels. The results showed that neither the copper nor the magnets were any better than the placebo. The usage of copper and magnets by persons with osteoarthritis had similar outcomes in a previous study by the same researchers.

Although there is more study on static magnets, the results are still equivocal, and the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, which is part of the National Institutes of Health in the United States, says the available data does not support their use for pain management.

Anecdotally, however, some persons with arthritis claim to benefit from wearing arthritis wristbands. “This might be more of a placebo effect,” adds Dr. Bose, “which can be quite potent in some individuals.” Furthermore, if you begin wearing the wristbands during a flare and subsequently notice a reduction in your symptoms, you may mistakenly credit the improvement to the bracelet when it was simply excellent timing.

Is Trying Arthritis Bracelets Harmful?
Wearing arthritis wristbands as a supplement to the treatment plan your doctor suggests has no negative side effects unless you are allergic to copper (or, in the case of magnets, have a metal implant or medical device like a pacemaker). So, if your doctor says it’s okay, go ahead and wear one. “I tell my patients that they can use copper since there is likely no damage,” Dr. Bose explains, “but I can’t give them precise advice because there is no scientific research to back this up.” Furthermore, because some components of pain may be psychological in nature, if the placebo effect helps you gain alleviation, it is in a way functioning.

Still, the wristbands are expensive, and when it comes to deciding between home remedies, it’s best to go with ones that have been proved to work.

“I recommend a healthy diet, such as the Mediterranean diet, that avoids red meat and refined carbohydrates, regular low-impact aerobic exercise, and mind-body relaxation techniques like meditation, deep breathing, or yoga to promote a healthy lifestyle, which can help arthritis pain and progression,” Dr. Bose says. “Pain relief gels or creams may be used as needed,” says the author.

In general, any alternative remedies you’ve heard about and wish to try should be discussed with your doctor. Just because you’ve heard something works doesn’t imply it’s backed up by scientific evidence. Unproven remedies should never be used in place of proved treatments. Although wearing copper or magnetic arthritis bracelets is typically safe, there is no proof that they truly work.