Magnetic Jewelry for Arthritis Relief: An Attractive Option?

If you suffer from osteoarthritis, there's a good chance you've come across information stating that magnetic jewelry can help with pain relief. But can donning a bracelet or ring made from magnetic material really quell your symptoms? Or is this simply a case of marketers preying on people desperate for treatment? The answer, not surprisingly, depends on who you talk to. This controversial topic has its supporters and detractors, and no one has been proven right or wrong.

Scan arthritis message boards and you will find people who claim that magnetic jewelry works for them. "I wear the bracelet every day now, and no pain in my right arm at all," claims one. Another says, "I have been wearing a hematite bracelet for just over one week now, I have found that my clicking wrist of 20 years has more or less disappeared. I also know a lady who after two days of wearing a magnetic ring found that her arthritic finger gave her no more pain." A 2004 study published in the British Medical Journal recruited 194 people with osteoarthritis of the hip or knee. One group wore bracelets with standard-strength magnets, another wore very weak magnets, and another got plain steel jewelry. The results? The people wearing the strong magnets claimed to have less pain after wearing the bracelets than those who wore the weak bracelets or the non-magnetic ones.

However, according to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, there exists no convincing scientific evidence that magnets can relieve any kind of pain. While a handful of smaller studies say they have found a correlation between magnets and pain relief, the majority have not. Still tempted to try magnetic jewelry? While magnetized jewelry in general can't hurt, be aware that if you have a pacemaker or use a defibrillator, magnets may interfere with those devices.

Interestingly, magnets have historically used to treat a variety of medical conditions, including gout, poisoning, baldness, and wounds. Years ago, they also were promoted as cures for headaches, insomnia, stomach trouble, and liver and kidney issues. Even today, many products are magnetized for health reasons. You can find magnets in shoe insoles, mattresses, headbands, and belts, all placed there for the purpose of finding pain relief.



National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine,; Harlow T, Greaves C, White A, Brown L, Hart A, and Ernst E.  (December 2004). Randomised Controlled Trial of Magnetic Bracelets for Relieving Pain in Osteoarthritis of the Hip and Knee. British Medical Journal, 329(7480), 1450-1454