British scientists have recently shattered another myth involving arthritis treatment. Thus far, may people were of the view that wearing a copper bracelet helped in curing this painful condition. But, the findings of a recent study undertaken by a team of British scientists have established that wearing a copper bracelet or a magnetic wrist band had no effect, whatsoever, in alleviating arthritis.
The first randomized and placebo-administered trials undertaken on humans to test the efficacy of copper bracelets and magnetic wrist bands to control pain caused by osteoarthritis - the most widespread type of arthritis, hinted that if there has been any apparent benefit from the use of copper bracelet or the magnetized wrist straps, it is essentially owing to the mental effect owing to the use of the placebo and not due to these two items.
According to Stewart Richmond of the department of health sciences at the University of York in the United Kingdom, who also led the research team, people enduring arthritis are likely to purchase copper bracelets and/ or magnetized wrist bands only when they are in severe pain and when the pain alleviates after a period of time, these people tend to ascribe these devices for relieving them from pain. In a press release, Stewart Richmond added that contrary to what many people believed, the findings of their study indicated that devices, such as copper bracelet or magnetized wrist bands, actually offered no benefit over the placebo wrist straps that are neither magnetized, nor do they contain any copper.
Although Stewart Richmond says that using devices like copper bracelets and magnetized wrist bands do not usually cause any harm to our body, he cautions people suffering from arthritis from spending too much money on magnet therapy, as eventually such measure will not yield any benefits to the patients.
Meanwhile, he said that the trial conducted by his team included 45 people in the age group of 50 years and above and everyone of them were diagnosed with osteoarthritis. Each of these participants was made to wear four different devices in an indiscriminating manner for more than 16 weeks. The four devices worn by the participants at random included two wrist straps with different intensity of magnetism, a copper bracelet and a demagnetized wrist band.
Interestingly enough, though each participant wore four different devices at random for over 16 weeks, neither they, nor the researchers were aware of the precise device worn by a participant at any given period. The authors of the study concluded saying that their findings suggest that the magnetic and copper bracelets are usually useless in alleviating pain, inflexibility as well as physical movements in osteoarthritis. In fact, during the course of the research, these British scientists found no significant difference between the four devices vis-à-vis their impact on pain, stiffness and physical function of the osteoarthritis patients who volunteered to participate in the study.
It is surprising to learn that the sale of different therapeutic devices, including permanent magnets, is to the tune of a whopping US $4 billion annually every year! This data was provided by the British scientists to conducted trials with these devices recently.
It may be mentioned here that osteoarthritis is primarily caused owing to the erosion or wearing away of the cartilage in the joints of the body resulting in acute pain, stiffness of the body as well as swelling of the joints. According to statistics released by the Arthritis Society, it is estimated that as many as 3,000,000 Canadians are affected by osteoarthritis. In other words, one in every 10 Canadians is affected by this painful condition of the joints.
Often people ask what exactly a placebo is. In fact, it is a virtual or medically unproductive remedy for any disease or health condition and is meant to trick the person who is receiving it. It has been found that on several occasions the patient who is receiving a placebo treatment has an apparent or maybe even real improvement in his/ her health condition and this occurrence is generally known as a placebo effect.
Placebos are used in the form of a controlled treatment during medical researches and their use is subject to the calculated deception. Some of the generally used placebos comprise inert tablets, pretended surgery, vehicle infusions and various different procedures that are rooted in fake information. Nevertheless, it is possible for placebos to sometimes have amazing positive results on an individual who is aware of the fact that he/she is not being given an active drug.
When we talk about placebo effect, we actually mean the kind of occurrence wherein a number of people feel that they have been benefitted in some way after the placebo was administered. As mentioned earlier, a placebo is actually a substance not having any familiar medical results and is used in medical research in the form of saline solution, sterile water, an inert tablet or a sugar pill. Precisely speaking, a placebo is a deceitful treatment that can occasionally result in genuine consequences. In effect, the beliefs of a patient who is administered a placebo play a vital role in this phenomenon or placebo effect. The greater the expectations of the patient about the placebo producing desirable effects, they are more liable to exhibit or experience a placebo effect.
During the course of a medical study, a number of people/ patients participating in the research may be given a placebo, while the genuine medication is administered to the other participants. The objective of dividing the participants into two groups and administering a placebo to one group and the real drug to the other group is to find out if the treatment really has a genuine effect, whatsoever. In case the improvement demonstrated by the group taking the actual medication is more compared to those being administered a placebo, it will help to support the scientists' claim that the drug they are using in the study is effective for treating/ preventing certain health conditions.
For instance, suppose an individual has agreed to participate in a scientific research being undertaken to find the effectuality of a latest medication for treating headaches. When the person has been given the drug, he/ she finds that the headache dissipates very quickly and is relieved of the problems. Nevertheless, later the person comes to know that he/ she was a member of the placebo group and the medication that he/ she was given was nothing but a simple sugar pill that actually has no medical effect, whatsoever.
Hence, it is important to know why some people do not exhibit any placebo effect, while such treatment makes others undergo changes, despite the fact that they are only being administered a placebo. The above instance, however, offers one plausible reason for this - and that is when the participant took the placebo it activated the secretion of endorphins, whose structure resemble that of morphine as well as other opiate analgesics. Hence, they act in the form of the natural painkiller of the brain!
In addition, scientists have used brain scans to successfully demonstrate effective placebo effect. A very hot and excruciating metal piece was placed on the heads of participants in one particular study undertaken to demonstrate the placebo effect and they were given either a painkiller or placebo injection. Participants belonging to both the groups affirmed that the injections were useful in lessening their pain. Subsequently, the scientists used the PET (positron emission tomography) scans to examine the brain of all the participants and discovered that their anterior cingulated cortex (the region of the brain containing several opiate receptors) was triggered inside the brains of the participants who were given the analgesic as well as those who received the placebo injection.
There are a number of other probable explanations for the placebo effect. Some of these include expectation, motivation and conditioning. In a number of instances scientists have used a placebo together with the real treatment till it actually stirred up most wanted results - this may be called an instance of typical conditioning. It has been found that people who feel extremely motivated and consider that the treatment will yield the desired results may possibly undergo a placebo effect.
On the other hand, people may also undergo negative symptoms in reaction to using a placebo. Sometimes, this kind of effect is also called the 'nocebo effect'. For instance, a patient who has been given a placebo may possibly complain of a headache, nauseated feeling or even light-headedness.