Arthritis Myths: Copper Bracelets for Arthritis?
copper bracelet arthritis

For those living with arthritis, finding effective relief can be a challenging journey. Many “alternative therapies” have been credited by some to help ease the symptoms of arthritis. These “cures” or “remedies” include strange food pairings, home remedies, and more.  

Among the many alternative therapies that people explore is copper bracelets. Claims that these accessories alleviate inflammation and joint pain have been circulating since as early as the 1800s. But do copper bracelets for arthritis really help relieve symptoms? Scientific research suggests that these claims are just another folk remedy with little evidence to support its effectiveness. 

Why Copper Bracelets for Arthritis? 

Copper is an essential trace mineral found in the human body in small amounts. It plays a crucial role in the formation of red blood cells, helping the body absorb iron, producing collagen as well as supporting nerve cells and the immune system. Copper has long been considered a “healing metal” with anti-inflammatory properties by ancient civilizations, including the Egyptians. 

In ancient Egypt, copper bracelets were worn for sterilization purposes. More recently, in the 1800s, the discovery of copper in the blood led to an assumption that copper deficiency and rheumatic disease was linked. Physicians began using copper as a treatment for arthritis. This treatment method was influenced by theories of “Metallotherapy” or metal therapy, which involves applying metal objects to the body to treat illnesses. 

How Do Copper Bracelets for Arthritis Work? 

A copper bracelet is a copper chain or cuff worn around the wrist. These bracelets are believed to have healing properties that relieve pain and inflammation caused by arthritis. The theory behind this claim is based on the idea that the skin absorbs tiny particles of copper from the bracelet that help regrow lost joint cartilage. These bracelets are widely available and often marketed as a natural, affordable, non-invasive therapy. 

Magnetic bracelets have also been claimed to ease arthritis symptoms. Like copper bracelets, some have claimed magnets against the skin improve the circulation of iron in the blood, helping to improve inflammation in the joints. 

Research suggests that these remedies do not help to ease arthritis symptoms. 

Copper Bracelets: Effective or Placebo? 

A research study published in PLoS One in 2013 investigated the effectiveness of copper and magnetic bracelets in managing symptoms of arthritis, such as pain and physical function. In a randomized, placebo-controlled trial, the researchers assessed the impact of these bracelets on patients with osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. 

The study found no significant difference in pain relief or improvement in physical function between those who wore copper or magnetic bracelets and those who wore placebo bracelets. These results suggest that the perceived benefits of copper and magnetic bracelets are likely due to a placebo effect rather than any therapeutic properties.   

A placebo is anything that appears “real” in medical treatment or research – but is not. Placebos do not have an active substance that affects health. However, sometimes people can have a response, such as improved symptoms or side effects to a placebo. This response is entirely self-induced and caused by a person’s expectations. This is known as the “placebo effect.”  

Effective Approaches to Managing Arthritis

The good news is that therapies exist that have been clinically proven to help treat arthritis symptoms. 

Medications such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) are commonly prescribed. These arthritis medications may be prescribed by your rheumatologist or arthritis specialist in addition to certain lifestyle changes that can complement your medication. 

For instance, physical therapy and exercise can also play a significant role in managing arthritis symptoms. Some patients also find relief using heat and cold therapies as well as over-the-counter pain relievers. 

It’s important to consult with a rheumatologist or arthritis specialist to determine the right arthritis treatment plan for you. Additionally, you should always consult with your rheumatologist before attempting any at-home or folk remedies for arthritis. 

If you’re seeking arthritis treatment, Summit Rheumatology offers expert arthritis treatment in Oklahoma and Arizona. Reach out to our team today to schedule an appointment for personalized arthritis care. 

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