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Many of our customers swear by copper bracelets. They say that they help relieve pain from arthritis or rheumatoid arthritis. We hear this nearly every day in our jewellers. You also see lots of raving reviews about copper bracelets on shopping sites like Amazon.
Do Copper Bracelets Work For Arthritis And Pain Relief?
Despite people wearing them because they believe it relieves their pain from arthritis, rheumatism and other aches and pains, is there actually any evidence that copper bracelets do work?
Well, according to one study carried out in the UK, actually, no! Whilst very few clinical trials have been carried out, a study by Dr Richmond at the University of York in 2013 concluded that any beneficial effect was nothing more than a placebo effect.
Although another study published in PubMed.gov detailed a different study of 300 participants, and found “to a significant number of subjects, the wearing of the ‘copper bracelet’ appeared to have some therapeutic value”.
In another study, 194 subjects with osteoarthritis of either the hip or the knee were found to have a reduction in pain levels in the group with the magnetic bracelets than the control group.
In this blog, we look at copper bracelets and their history, use and the clinical trial that was conducted on them.
The Use of Copper
Copper was one of the first metals used by man. As well as being used for tools, and body jewellery it was used to treat medical lesions and wounds as it inhibits the growth of bacteria. Even as far back as 2600BC, it was used to treat drinking water to make it safe to drink.
Copper In The Body
Copper is also found in trace amounts in the human body. It is believed that it helps to support nerve function. When copper was discovered in the blood in 1830, some concluded that there was a link between its deficiency and rheumatism and treatments were formed whereby copper discs were strapped to an afflicted person’s body.
Copper bracelets have been used for helping people with arthritis for thousands of years and you can often see them still sold in pharmacies and drug stores as well as local jewellers. There is quite a variety available, with or without added magnets, for both men and women. In fact, we sell as many magnetic and copper bracelets for men as we do for ladies.
How Do Copper Bracelets Work?
The belief was that, when copper was worn against the skin, tiny particles of copper rub off onto the skin and are absorbed by the body and may help increase circulation, taking fresh blood to the area of inflammation which also carries away waste products.
Other claims say the tiny traces of copper in the body helps to rebuild the cartilage, again totally unsubstantiated.
Is There Any Proof That Copper Bracelets Work for Arthritis?
Despite lots of people swearing that they work, there appear to be only one serious clinical trial of copper bracelets, neither of which found any evidence, other than a placebo effect, of copper bracelets working for arthritis.
One was carried out by Dr Richmond at the University of York, UK and is detailed in PLoS One with a sample size of 70 patients, mainly women, with sixty participants completing the trial. Whilst the results “indicate that use of the standard magnetic wrist strap may have resulted in a modest reduction in pain” and it was noted in the trial outcomes that “it is possible that the devices may not have been worn for long enough to produce a meaningful treatment effect”.
It was mentioned that despite that up to 60% of arthritis suffers use complementary therapy, only 1% of the total research budgets go to looking at Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) treatments. It is observed in an article published here, “Magnet therapy now appears to be one of the most widely used forms of CAM for the management of chronic pain associated with musculoskeletal disorders such as RA, with many patients demonstrating a willingness to privately purchase permanent magnetic devices which are marketed for health purposes. Indeed, it has been estimated that the worldwide sales of such devices account for somewhere between one and four billion US dollars each year”.
Other Things That May Help Arthritis?
It is said that acupuncture can help.
A good diet with leafy green vegetables, whole grains and antioxidants, with fish oils included can help.
Tai chi exercise may also be beneficial for arthritis.
US National Library of Medicine – National Institute for Health
National Library of Medicine – National Centre for Biotechnology Information