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How homeopathy can help osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is one of the most common types of arthritis. It is most commonly detected in knees; however, it also affects hips as well as joints of the hands, feet and spine. Homeopathy can help patients with osteoarthritis by decreasing the intensity of pain and stiffness as well as improving mobility of the joints.

Shiela, a 50 year old housewife came to us with severe knee and ankle joint pains which felt worse upon waking in the morning and after resting, and better once she had warmed up a little. The joint pains shifted from one joint to another, occurring when she was indoors and dissipating when she went out for a walk. Post a detailed case study, she was prescribed a diet and exercise regime to lose weight plus homeopathic medicine, which provided relief and allowed her to resume a normal routine.

What is Osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis (OA), sometimes called degenerative joint disease or osteoarthrosis, is the most common form of arthritis. It occurs when the cartilage that cushions the ends of bones in your joints deteriorates over time and becomes rough causing irritation. It isn't clear what causes osteoarthritis in most cases.

Researchers suspect that it is a combination of factors which causes Osteoarthritis, including age, excess weight, joint injury or stress, heredity, and muscle weakness.

Age is the strongest risk factor for OA. Although OA can start in young adulthood – often due to joint injury – it usually occurs in older people. Below age 45, OA occurs more frequently in men while after age 45, OA is more common in women. OA of the hand is particularly common among women.

A current study claims that osteoarthritis is so common that it beats many other diseases in India such as diabetes.

Symptoms

Osteoarthritis symptoms often develop slowly and worsen over time. Signs and symptoms of osteoarthritis include:

  • Pain in a joint during or after use, or after a period of inactivity
  • Tenderness in the joint when you apply light pressure
  • Stiffness in a joint, that may be most noticeable when you wake up in the morning or after a period of inactivity
  • Loss of flexibility making it difficult to use the joint
  • Grating sensation when you use the joint
  • Bone spurs which appear as hard lumps forming around the affected joint
  • Grating sensation when you use the joint
  • Swelling in some cases

Medical Diagnosis

OA is diagnosed by its characteristic symptoms of pain, decreased movement and/or deformity. It may be confirmed with an X-ray or MRI scan.

Common findings include narrowing of the joint space between bones, loss of cartilage, bone spurs or bone growths. Blood tests may be ordered to exclude other possible conditions, but they cannot diagnose OA.

NSAIDs: Damaging Effects

One of the most popular conventional modes of treatment to ease arthritic pain is the use of prescription drugs - especially non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), which are not only expensive but whose long-term use can lead to dangerous side-effects.

Reports estimate that every year thousands of patients suffer from gastrointestinal tract (GI) bleeding as a direct result of NSAID use. Ironically, though these drugs are used for arthritic pain relief, they are known to actually hasten the destruction of the cartilage itself. One recent study, conducted in Norway, has found that OA patients taking indocin, an NSAID, experienced far more rapid destruction of the hip than the group not taking any NSAID.

The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) reports severe liver damage caused by voltaren, the most frequently prescribed NSAID for arthritis in the US. The journal also reports that patients developed hepatitis within 4-6 weeks of taking the medication, and possible liver damage just weeks after taking the drug. Corticosteroids are also used to control inflammation and suppress arthritic symptoms. They seem to have just as many adverse effects as NSAIDs and, perhaps, more.

Homeopathic Healing: A Case In Point

Sixty-year-old Swati was brought in by her son for treatment of her joint pains which were causing her difficulty in walking. An X-ray revealed that she had age-related degeneration of the joints. As her pains were often aggravated by rest and improved with continued motion, she was given an appropriate homeopathic remedy. She was also advised to perform certain rotational exercises for the knee joint and advised to avoid sitting on the floor, or squatting. Within a span of ten months, her joint pains reduced and she was able to move around without much difficulty. While most homeopaths agree that structural changes cannot be reversed in such cases, the plus point is symptoms, such as pain, can be alleviated to make individuals comfortable and ambulatory.

Self-help

  • Osteoarthritis pain may flare up from time to time. In order to prevent and cope with these attacks of pain and stiffness, take the following precautions. Try to:
  • Eat a healthy vegetarian diet emphasizing fruit, vegetables and whole grains. This will help to maintain your overall health allowing you to deal better with your arthritis.
  • Choose appropriate footwear. Wearing comfortable cushioned shoes that properly support your weight is especially important if you have arthritis in your weight-bearing joints or back.
  • Control your weight
  • Use a knee cap to support your knees
  • Do rotational exercises of the knee and exercises to strengthen your hamstrings
  • Don’t squat on the floor.
  • Avoid ascending and descending stairs wherever possible.
  • In cases of menopausal women, OA can be associated with osteoporosis, hence a diet rich in soya protein may be useful since soya mimics the female hormone, estrogen.
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