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Therapeutic effects of magnetic and copper bracelets in osteoarthritis: a randomised placebo controlled crossover trial

Richmond, Stewart J; Brown, Sally; Campion, Peter D; Porter, Amanda J L; Klaber Moffett, Jennifer A; Jackson, David A; Featherstone, Valerie A; Taylor, Andrew J


Stewart J Richmond

Sally Brown

Peter D Campion

Amanda J L Porter

Jennifer A Klaber Moffett

David A Jackson

Valerie A Featherstone

Andrew J Taylor


Objectives: to test the effectiveness of a typical magnetic wrist strap for reducing pain and stiffness, and for improving physical functioning amongst patients with osteoarthritis. Design: a randomised double-blind placebo-controlled crossover trial. Each participant wore four devices over a 16-week period. Setting: forty five patients with osteoarthritis were recruited from general practices in rural and urban areas of Yorkshire. Interventions: experimental device a commercially available magnetic wrist strap. Control devices: a weak magnetic wrist strap, a demagnetised wrist strap, and a copper bracelet. Main outcome measures The WOMAC Osteoarthritis Index, the McGill Pain Questionnaire—Pain Rating Index (PRI), a pain visual analogue scale (VAS), and medication use. Results No difference was observed between devices in terms of their effects on pain as measured by the primary outcome measure (WOMAC A), the PRI and the VAS. Similar results were obtained for stiffness (WOMAC B), physical function (WOMAC C), and medication use. Further analyses of the PRI subscales revealed a statistically significant difference between devices (P = 0.025), which favoured the experimental device. Participants reported lower sensory pain after wearing the standard magnetic wrist strap, than when wearing control devices. However, no adjustment was made for multiple testing. Conclusions: our results indicate that magnetic and copper bracelets are generally ineffective for managing pain, stiffness and physical function in osteoarthritis. Reported therapeutic benefits are most likely attributable to non-specific placebo effects. However such devices have no major adverse effects and may provide hope.


Richmond, S. J., Brown, S., Campion, P. D., Porter, A. J. L., Klaber Moffett, J. A., Jackson, D. A., …Taylor, A. J. (2009). Therapeutic effects of magnetic and copper bracelets in osteoarthritis: a randomised placebo controlled crossover trial. Complementary Therapies in Medicine, 17, 249-256.

Journal Article Type Article
Online Publication Date Aug 28, 2009
Publication Date Aug 28, 2009
Deposit Date May 3, 2016
Print ISSN 0965-2299
Electronic ISSN 1873-6963
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 17
Pages 249-256
Keywords Magnetics; copper; osteoarthritis; pain;
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