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Shiny and with an enticing red-orange color, copper has historically been used for jewelry, money, and decorative items. Copper also has several medicinal uses. In fact, ancient peoples discovered the antibacterial nature of copper back in 2600 to 2200 BC as an aid in wound sterilization, which expanded the use of this compound. In recent years, there has been a focus on how copper bracelets can potentially affect the symptoms associated with arthritis. Arthritis is a type of joint disease that can result from a variety of causes. Some of the primary symptoms of arthritis include “swelling, pain, stiffness and decreased range of motion.”

The use of copper bracelets to treat arthritis is not a new concept. For thousands of years, people have claimed the effects these bracelets could have on alleviating arthritis. But how exactly does wearing such jewelry improve arthritis? Well, proponents claim that these bracelets leave a copper residue on the skin, which is then absorbed into the body. While the exact mechanism is still unknown, the copper interacts with the body and regenerates joint cartilage that was damaged due to arthritis.

Copper bracelets may help treat arthritis.

Image Source: Eric Lafforgue/Art in All of Us

Does the copper treatment work? In 2013, a study was published regarding the effectiveness of copper bracelets and magnetic bracelets, which are also thought to help with arthritis symptoms. Seventy patients with rheumatoid arthritis were randomly given four different bracelets to wear: a standard magnetic bracelet, a normal/unmagnetized bracelet, a weaker than standard magnetic bracelet, and a copper bracelet. Each bracelet was worn for five weeks with a gap of one week between each different one. Following each five-week period, inflammation of the joints was measured through various tests and pain levels and physical activity were measured through surveys that also gathered data on disease activity and medication use. The results indicated there was no significant improvement in the measured parameters for rheumatoid arthritis sufferers that wore the magnetic and copper bracelets compared to the placebo (the unmagnetized bracelet).

It appears that these copper bracelets may play more of a role as “jewelry” than as a magic reliever of rheumatoid arthritis. Although we cannot completely rule out the ability of these bracelets to affect the symptoms of arthritis, this one study has provided evidence to disprove any visible or measurable effects of copper bangles on arthritis. Individuals who seek relief for their arthritis may turn to these bracelets for a placebo effect and psychological comfort; however, general treatment, such as exercise, surgery, and medication for arthritis, should be continued for medical relief.

Featured Image Source: copper hyrangea dome by allison fomich

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