If you suffer from Arthritic pain, and you are looking for medical treatment, it is advisable first to compare and contrast conventional medical treatment with alternative treatment, such as Homeopathy. Perhaps the fundamental difference between the two is that whilst conventional medicine works by providing patients with pain relief through painkilling drugs, Homeopathy seeks to deal with the underlying condition that is causing the pain.
Conventional Medical Treatment
NHS Choices http://www.nhs.uk/Pages/HomePage.aspx says that "osteoarthritis cannot be cured, but treatment can ease your symptoms and prevent them from affecting your everyday life”. It recommends exercise and weight loss. However, it is clear that the main conventional treatment for arthritis are pain-killing drugs. It says that “the aim of rheumatoid arthritis treatment is to reduce inflammation in the joints, relieve pain, prevent or slow joint damage, reduce disability and provide support to help you live as active a life as possible”.
The main drugs used by conventional medicine to treat arthritis are:
- Painkillers, such as Paracetamol and Codeine
NHS Choices says that pain killers “reduce pain rather than inflammation and are used to control the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis”. This means that they treat the pain, but not the underlying condition.
- Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs
NHS Choices says this of NSAID drugs. “NSAIDs help relieve pain and stiffness whilst also reducing inflammation. However, they will not slow down the progress of rheumatoid arthritis”.
NHS Choices goes on to say that NSAID can increase the risk of serious stomach problems, such as bleeding internally. “Taking an NSAID can break down the lining that protects against damage from acids in the stomach”.
Yet it is also true, as the NHS Choices website admits, that one type of NSAID, Cox-2 inhibitors, also have the potential to cause heart attacks and strokes. And it adds that if you take NSAIDs you will ‘almost certainly’ have to take more drugs, such as a PPI drugs to reduce the risk of damage to your stomach lining.
NHS Choices admits that this drug can have serious side effects, including weight gain, osteoporosis, muscle weakness, thinning of skin, and can worsen diabetes, glaucoma. Therefore, they are only used on a short-term basis. The website says that long-term use of corticosteroids has been associated with an over-stimulation of the adrenal glands, producing Cushing’s Syndrome, hyperglycaemia, diabetes, muscle weakness, skin atrophy and thinness.
Homeopathy uses many remedies for people suffering with arthritis, and related illnesses. As is normal with Homeopathy, the correct remedy for any individual is based upon a remedy that best matches the symptoms of that individual. The main remedies used, with a brief description of the kind of symptoms they are used for, are as follows:
- Rhus Tox
Perhaps the main remedy used for rheumatism, with pain and stiffness. Pain and stiffness causing patient to shift and stretch. Restless in bed. Worse in morning, upon rising; at night; evening, with over-exertion; for cold, damp weather; sitting for a long time. Better for heat, continued gentle motion.
There is joint pains and deformity; remedy in advance, deformative arthritis. Stiffness can be so severe the patients feels as if the joint is paralyzed. Cracking joints.
Great soreness all over. Even the bed feels too hard. Feels as if bruised or beaten. Must move constantly to relieve pain.
- Aurum Met
Serious or advanced rheumatism with marked stiffness. Rheumatism with stiffness or spasms on chest wall. Severe spasm or tearing pains. Pains described as ‘paralytic’. Wandering arthritis; moving from spot to spot.
Excrutiating pains, often stitching pains. Patient is averse to being examined or moved. Fears to move yet feels restless. Worse, slightest motion. Jarring. From cold, especially cold, dry weather. Better, heat, pressure, lying still, lying on painful side.
(These brief remedy descriptions have been taken from Roger Morrison, Desktop Companion to Physical Pathology. Hahnemann Clinic Publishing. 1998).
Note. There are at least 141 remedies contained in the Homeopathic Materia Medica (Synthesis) for the single rubric “General, Inflammation, Joints”, and many more for related conditions.
Randomised Controlled Tests (RCTs) on Homeopathic Remedies
RCTs are the third, and decidedly the least important type of evidence supporting Homeopathy as a medical therapy.
Whereas the main proof for the effectiveness of Homeopathy are the patients who once suffered from this condition, and there are several RCT trials that have looked into the use of homeopathy for people suffering with arthritis, and similar diseases.
- A critical examination of the evidence for the use of individualised Homeopathic treatment in Rheumatoid Arthritis.
- Conclusions. Although the results for the active treatment group demonstrated that homeopathy may be useful in the treatment of RA, there was no statistical evidence that it was superior to placebo therapy. However, this result may be due to a number of methodological flaws within the trial.
- Homeopathic therapy in rheumatoid arthritis: evaluation of double-blind clinical therapeutic trial
- Abstract. Twenty-three patients with rheumatoid arthritis on orthodox first-line anti-inflammatory treatment plus homeopathy were compared wtih a similar group of twenty-three patients on orthodox first-line treatment plus an inert preparation. There was a significant improvement in subjective pain, articular index, stiffness and grip strength in those patients receiving homeopathic remedies whereas there was no significant change in the patients who received placebo. Two physicians were involved in prescribing for the patients and there were no significant differences in the results which they obtained. No side effects were observed with the homeopathic remedies.
- Bell IR, Lewis DA, Brooks AJ, Schwartz GE, Lewis SE, Walsh BT, Baldwin CM. Improved clinical status in fibromyalgia patients treated with individualized homeopathic remedies versus placebo.
- Rheumatology (Oxford). 2004 May;43(5):577-82.
- 53 people suffering from fibromyalgia took part in this trial, comparing individualised homeopathic treatment to placebo. The levels of tender points and tender point pain as well as quality of life, mood and general health were assessed by the practitioners and subjects involved in the trial. 3 months after commencing treatment, all parameters were found to be improved by the use of homoeopathy when compared to placebo.
- Fisher P., Greenwood A, Huskisson EC, Turner P and Belon P. Effect of Homeopathic Treatment on Fibrositis.
- British Medical Journal, 5 August, 1989, 299, 365-366.
- Patients using Rhus tox 6C three times daily in a double blind placebo controlled crossover trial found significant relief with the medicine over the placebo.
- Fisher P. An Experimental Double-blind Clinical Trial method in Homoeopathy- Use of a Limited Range of Remedies to Treat Fibrositis.
- British Homoeopathic Journal, 1986, July, 75, 3, 142-7.
- 24 subjects suffering from fibrositis were treated for the condition for 3 months with Arnica, Bryonia or Rhus tox, depending upon the similarity between the individuals’ symptoms and the clinical picture for the remedy. Using scores for pain, number of tender spots, and sleep quality to determine the response to the therapy, these remedies produced a statistically significant improvement, but only when the remedy was well indicated.
- Gibson RG, Gibson SL, MacNeill AD, Gray GH, Dick WC, Buchanan WW. Salicylates and Homoeopathy in Rheumatoid Arthritis.
- British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, 1978, 6, 5, 391-395.
- In this study, carried out at the Glasgow Homeopathic Hospital, 41 people suffering from rheumatoid arthritis were treated with enteric coated aspirin and 54 people suffering from the same condition were treated with individualised homeopathic treatment. The results of the two forms of therapy were compared at the end of the trial and it was found that those on homeopathic treatment did considerably better than those on aspirin. In addition, 16 of the 41 people taking aspirin during the trial experienced side effects while those taking homeopathics experienced no side effects.
- Gibson RG, Gibson SL. Homeopathic Therapy in Rheumatoid Arthritis: Evaluation by Double Blind Clinical Therapeutic Trial.
- Br J. Clin. Pharmac. 9, 1980, 453-459.
- 46 patients using a number of different homeopathic medicines, prescribed according to homeopathic principles, were given this medicine or a placebo with their normal anti-arthritic drug. The trial was carried out blind and significant results were achieved with the homeopathic medicine over the placebo in all areas measured.
- Gmnunder R, Kissling R. The Efficacy of homeopathy in the treatment of chronic low back pain compared to standardized physiotherapy.
- Zeitschrift für Orthopädie und ihre Grenzgebiete, 2002 Sep-Oct;140, 5, 503-8.
- In this controlled, randomised, prospective study, 43 people suffering from chronic low back pain were treated for two months either by homeopathy or by standardised physiotherapy. Assessment based on the initial and final clinical investigations, an Oswestry questionnaire, and visual analog scale, found that the most successful method of treatment was homeopathy.
- Shealy CN, Thomlinson PR, Cox RH, Bormeyer V. Osteoarthritis Pain: A Comparison of Homoeopathy and Acetaminophen.
- American Journal of Pain Management, 8, 3, July 1998, 89-91.
- In this trial, 65 sufferers of osteoarthritis (OA) were split into 2 groups, and through a double blinding process were given either a homeopathic medicine or Acetaminophen, a commonly prescribed drug for pain relief in OA. Researchers found that homoeopathy provided a level of pain relief that was superior to Acetaminophen, and produced no adverse reactions.
- Labrecque G., Guilleminot J. Effect of Bryonia on Experimental Arthritis in Rats.
- Berlin Journal of Research in Homoeopathy, 1, 3, 1991, 169, (Congress Report Poster).
- In this study, 35 male rats suffering from arthritis were treated with placebo or 4X, 4C or 9C potencies of homeopathic Bryonia for 15 days and assessed at various stages using grip strength body weight as assessment criteria. At the end of the treatment period, all of the Bryonia potencies had improved the condition when compared to placebo, with Bryonia 4C providing the best outcomes.