Copper bracelets and magnetic wrist straps are ineffective in relieving arthritis pain, according to a new study from the University of York, UK. The researchers involved conducted the first trial on the use of both copper bracelets and magnetic wrist straps for pain management in osteoarthritis - the most common form of the condition.
The results of this new trial, published in the journal Complementary Therapies in Medicine, conflict with those from previous studies, by showing that both magnetic and copper bracelets were ineffective for managing pain, stiffness and physical function in osteoarthritis.
"It appears that any perceived benefit obtained from wearing a magnetic or copper bracelet can be attributed to psychological placebo effects. People tend to buy them when they are in a lot of pain, then when the pain eases off over time they attribute this to the device. However, our findings suggest that such devices have no real advantage over placebo wrist straps that are not magnetic and do not contain copper," said study leader Stewart Richmond.
The trial involved 45 people aged 50 or over, who were all diagnosed as suffering from osteoarthritis. Each participant wore four devices in a random order over a 16-week period - two wrist straps with differing levels of magnetism, a demagnetized wrist strap and a copper bracelet. The study revealed no meaningful difference between the devices in terms of their effects on pain, stiffness and physical function.
The study notes that magnet therapy is a rapidly growing industry, with annual worldwide sales of magnetic therapeutic devices worth up to $4 billion US.
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Source: University of York