Objective: To assess objectively the perceived benefits of wearing an "ionized" wrist bracelet to treat muscle or joint pain.
Subjects and methods: This study was performed at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Fla, in 2000 and 2001. In a randomized, double-blind design, 305 participants wore an ionized bracelet and 305 wore a placebo bracelet for 4 weeks. For each location where pain was present at baseline, participants rated the intensity of pain. Follow-up ratings were made after 1, 3, 7, 14, 21, and 28 days of wearing the bracelet. Two primary end points were defined for evaluating efficacy. The first was the change at 4-week follow-up (day 28) in the pain score at the location with the highest baseline value (maximum pain score). The second was the change at 4-week follow-up in the sum of the pain scores for all locations.
Results: Analysis of the data showed significant improvement in pain scores in both groups, but no differences were observed between the group wearing the placebo bracelet and the group wearing the ionized bracelet.
Conclusion: The finding that subjective improvement in pain scores was equivalent with ionized and placebo bracelet use questions the benefit of using an ionized bracelet. New treatments in alternative medical therapy must be shown to be effective through vigorous, unbiased, objective testing before physicians acknowledge potential benefits or recommend these treatments to patients.