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October 2013

Copper and Magnetic Bracelets Studied For Rheumatoid Arthritis

Wearing a copper bracelet or magnetic wrist strap may lack significant effects on symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, according to a study.

The term arthritis literally means joint inflammation or swelling. More than 100 different diseases fall under the general category of arthritis. Arthritis conditions affect the joints, the tissues surrounding the affected joints, and other connective tissues. Common forms of arthritis include rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, and periarthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder that occurs when the body's immune system, which normally fights against disease and infection, attacks itself. Unlike osteoarthritis, which only affects the bones and cartilage, rheumatoid arthritis may also cause swelling in other areas of the body.

The use of magnets to treat illness has been described historically in many civilizations. Many different types, sizes, and strengths of magnets are available. Magnet therapy may be administered by a healthcare professional or used by individuals on their own. Constant (static) magnets or pulsed electromagnetic fields may be applied to areas of the body affected by illness or to the entire body. Devices exist that can be implanted in the body or used externally to deliver pulsed electromagnetic field therapy. Self-adhesive magnetic strips, foils, belts, and bracelets are available for self-treatment. Magnetic jewelry, such as earrings and necklaces, shoe inserts, mattress pads, and magnet-conditioned water are commercially sold.

In the current study, the researchers investigated the use of magnetic wrist straps or copper bracelets on symptoms of pain and inflammation in people with rheumatoid arthritis.

The team recruited 70 people between the ages of 33 and 79 who had painful rheumatoid arthritis. The subjects were randomly assigned to wear four devices in a different order, including a standard magnetic wrist strap, a demagnetized wrist strap, a wrist strap with lower magnetic power, and a copper bracelet. The devices were each worn for five weeks, with each treatment phases separated by a one-week wash-out period. The researchers looked for any changes in pain symptoms, as well as joint tenderness, swelling, and physical function.

The results suggested that significant differences were lacking between the devices in terms of effects on pain, inflammation, and physical function.

The authors concluded that wearing a magnetic wrist strap or copper bracelet may lack benefit in people who have rheumatoid arthritis. More research is needed to confirm these findings.

For more information about magnet therapy, please visit Natural Standard's Health & Wellness Database.


  1. Natural Standard: The Authority on Integrative Medicine. 
  2. Richmond SJ, Gunadasa S, Bland M, et al. Copper bracelets and magnetic wrist straps for rheumatoid arthritis - analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects: a randomised double-blind placebo controlled crossover trial. PLoS One. 2013 Sep 16;8(9):e71529. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0071529. 

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