Rheumatoid arthritis is a common inflammatory autoimmune disease, which typically begins to develop between 30 to 50 years of age. It is estimated that 387,000 people in the UK have RA, with three times more women affected than men. RA involves periodic inflammation of the synovium in joints of the hand, wrist, foot, knee or shoulder. This causes swelling of the joint capsule and irritation of nerve endings, producing pain and resulting in damage to both bone and cartilage. In turn this may lead to both disability and mortality. Although the disease can be managed effectively with prescription drugs, many people however are looking for alternatives and magnetic therapy is fast becoming a popular choice.
Magnetic therapy has been around for thousands of years but in recent times has been rewarded a resurgence, with magnetic therapy bracelets being widely available and at a very reasonable cost, it’s fast becoming the go to choice for alternative therapy seekers.
Almost 60% of people suffering with arthritis use complementary therapy, many people wish to find an alternative to the side effects they may receive whilst treating the complaint with drugs, magnetic therapy offers a safe alternative which can be very effective. There have been very few large-scale studies on magnetic therapy as most large studies are funded by drugs companies who have little to gain by investigating the benefits of magnetic therapy, the information which is widely available is mostly anecdotal. Many patients with arthritis use magnets as a complementary treatment for pain. One scientific trial with patients with rheumatoid arthritis with unremitting knee pain showed significant pain reduction with two different types of magnetic treatment. Magnets have been effective for treating other types of pain, but the related scientific research is very limited for arthritis. Anecdotal reports, however, are very positive.
There have been some links between serum copper imbalances in patients with arthritis and “in the most widely cited study on this topic, Walker and Keats randomised 240 arthritis sufferers into three groups. Group 1 wore a copper bracelet for one month and then an aluminium bracelet for a further month. Group 2 wore identical devices but in reverse order and Group 3 wore no device. From this Walker and Keats reported that significantly more participants rated the copper bracelet as superior than the aluminium bracelet and that copper bracelets actually lost weight by an average of 13 mg/month. This appears to support the theory that copper may be leached into the skin and that this may have had a positive therapeutic effect on arthritis symptoms.
“Although there is no conclusive evidence that they work, there is soon to be a major trial.
Professor Albert Singer, Emeritus Professor of Gynaecological Research at the Whittington Hospital, London, used the insoles to treat his own osteoarthritis, and was so impressed by the improvement in his condition that he designed a small study. It found that 96 per cent of patients reported an improvement in symptoms.
Professor Alan Silman, medical director of Arthritis Research UK, said: ‘Many people wear copper bracelets or rings to relieve pain, although there’s no real evidence to show that they work.”