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Study Finds Ionized Bracelets Effective as Placebo for Musculoskeletal Pain

  [ 51 votes ]   [ Discuss This Article ] • November 15, 2002

Researchers from Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Fla., report wearing ionized bracelets for the treatment of muscle and joint pain was no more effective than wearing placebo bracelets in the November 2002 issue of Mayo Clinic Proceedings.

Authors of the published study randomly assigned 305 participants to wear an ionized bracelet for 28 days and another 305 participants to wear a placebo bracelet for the same duration.

The study volunteers were men and women 18 and older who had self-reported musculoskeletal pain at the beginning of the study. Neither the researchers nor the participants knew which volunteers wore an ionized bracelet and which wore a placebo bracelet. Bracelets were worn according to the manufacturer's recommendations. Both types of bracelets were identical and were supplied by the manufacturer, QT, Inc.

Participants self-reported their pain for each location where they felt it with a score of 1 to 10 before wearing a bracelet. They self-reported their pain again after wearing a bracelet for one day, three days, seven days, 14 days, 21 days and 28 days. Researchers were interested in both the change in the self-reported pain score for the location of greatest pain and the change in the sum of the pain scores for all self-reported painful locations.

Both groups reported significant improvement in pain. However, researchers found no difference in the amount of self-reported pain relief between the group wearing the ionized bracelets and the group wearing the placebo bracelets. The study authors conclude that the equivalent, subjective improvement in pain scores calls into question the true benefit of using an ionized bracelet.

Principal investigator Dr. Robert Bratton, from the Department of Family Medicine, says the study was important because so many patients are interested in alternative medicine. "We need to look at what our patients are doing for their various problems," he says, "and undertake objective, controlled studies to prove whether or not these treatments are beneficial."

The study authors say that although their goal was not to assess the effectiveness of placebos, their results did support the benefit of placebos in the treatment of pain. They also note that 80 percent of the 409 participants who answered an initial survey question about the use of ionized bracelets stated they believed the bracelets can reduce joint or muscle pain.

The study was conducted between 2000-2001. It won the Florida Academy of Family Physicians first-place award for research in October. Mayo Clinic Proceedings is a peer-reviewed and indexed general internal medicine journal, published for more than 75 years by Mayo Foundation, with a circulation of 130,000 nationally and internationally.

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