Arthritis and rheumatism are among the commonest forms of chronic disease and, with an aging population, are set to become commoner still. Strictly speaking, arthritis means disease of the joints, while rheumatism is disease of the soft connective tissues which support and move the joints. In fact, the distinction is often artificial, since many of these conditions affect both the joints and connective tissues.
Osteoarthritis, the commonest of these conditions, is basically “wear and tear” of the joints. The root of the problem is wearing out of the cartilage, the tough, slippery “gristle”, which allows the ends of the bone to slide smoothly over each other and absorbs shocks. The joint becomes stiff and painful, and may creak as it is moved.
As the cartilage wears down, the bones on either side of the joint may react by forming small bony outgrowths called osteophytes. One of the sites where bony nodes can easily be seen is the last joint of the fingers. Spondylosis is a similar problem affecting the spine; here the main problem is degeneration of the disks which separate the vertebrae.
As one would expect with a degenerative condition the prevalence of osteoarthritis increases with age, it affects nine per cent of the total population but around 70 per cent of the over-70s. It is the commonest of all rheumatological conditions, and indeed probably the commonest of all chronic diseases, because many sufferers live with it for many years. Not surprisingly it tends to affect weight-bearing joints (eg low back, hips and knees). Joint injuries or overuse (for instance heavy physical work or professional sport) predispose to osteoarthritis later in life. Overweight is another important factor.
The other two main groups of arthritis and rheumatism are inflammatory arthritis, of which the commonest form is rheumatoid arthritis, and soft tissue rheumatism. Rheumatoid arthritis affects about one person in a hundred; it is nearly three times commoner in women than men (for unknown reasons). Its cause, too, remains frustratingly elusive. It tends to come on at an earlier age than osteoarthritis (typically in the 30s to 50s) and is more aggressive, running a more rapid course: about a third of sufferers are seriously disabled within ten years, although it is very variable. It particularly affects the small joints, especially of the hands and feet, causing a typical hand deformity where the fingers slant sideways. But it can affect almost any joint in the body, and also cause nodules under the skin and eye problems. There are many other forms of inflammatory arthritis, some of them associated with infections.
The final group is true rheumatism, affecting the soft connective tissues rather then the joints themselves. There are many forms, some with picturesque names. They include enthesopathies which affect the point at which tendons connect to the bones – the best known of these are tennis elbow, affecting the outer side of the elbow, and golfer’s elbow, which affects the inner side. Capsulitis – inflammation of the capsule of tissues that surround the joint – most commonly affects the shoulder, and may lead to a stiff “frozen” shoulder. Some of the more amusing names are reserved for bursitis – inflammation of the bursae, cushioning pads which overlie many joints. These include Housemaid’s Knee (also known as Clergyman’s Knee), from too much kneeling. But my favourite is Weaver’s Bottom – so called because it used to affect weavers who had to shuffle up and down long benches to tend their looms!
The most common form of soft tissue rheumatism, however, is fibromyalgia (which used to be known as fibrositis). It affects about two per cent of people and is much commoner in women than men. It is a controversial condition; some believe that fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome (ME) are varieties of the same condition, certainly there are similarities. The typical features are widespread musculoskeletal pain and aching with tender points at several specific locations. It is frequently associated with poor sleep and fatigue as well as other problems including migraine and irritable bowel syndrome.
There are many problems with current conventional treatment of arthritis and rheumatism. For instance, although osteoarthritis rarely, if ever, killed anyone, a group of drugs often used in its treatment, the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agents (NSAIDs), including aspirin, Ibuprofen and Voltarol among many others, certainly has. There are some 12,000 hospital admissions and 2,000 deaths from these drugs every year in the UK alone. Although the new generation of NSAIDs is safer, they are only glorified painkillers, which do not affect the basic disease process. Similarly for rheumatoid arthritis, a range of powerful drugs is available but all of these have long and alarming lists of side effects.
The homeopathic approach
In treating someone suffering from arthritis and rheumatism with homeopathy, just as with any other condition, I look at the person as a whole. In practice this means starting by looking at what exactly the problem is: pain, stiffness, sleep disturbance, limitation of particular activities, or what? Where is it? How long has it been a problem, and what has been the evolution? “Evolution” means where did it start and what has happened since – has it moved, if so, in any particular pattern? Does it come and go, any pattern to that? Did anything seem to trigger it off in the first place?
Then the modalities – simply any factor which makes the problem worse or better: for instance hot or cold applications, bandaging or support, the weather etc. Here it is important to know what is normal: for instance it is usual for an acutely inflamed, swollen, tender joint to be relieved by cold applications. But in homeopathy exceptions to the rule are of particular interest.
I then move on to the rest of “homeopathic” histories, I integrate the two. Sometimes the conventional part of the history can give a vital clue. For instance, a woman came to consult me with extra-articular manifestations of rheumatoid arthritis. When I asked if anything seemed to have triggered the problem, she said she couldn’t think of anything. But when I enquired into the social background it turned out she had been through a messy divorce, including a court battle for custody of the children, which she eventually won. The onset of her illness coincided almost to the day with the end of the custody case. I was amazed that she did not make the connection. It was clear that this was a topic she didn’t want to discuss. Translated into the quaint 19th century language of some homeopathic books this is “aggravated by consolation”. It was this that gave me the first clue to the homeopathic medicine, Sepia, to which she had an excellent response. This was an example of “not what they say, but how they say it”.
Then to complete the history, the “mentals” and “generals”. The mentals include how the patient reacts to and copes (or fails to cope) with their problems, and the so-called “constitutional” features: is this a strong-willed and assertive person, or the opposite? Tidy and organised or untidy? And so forth. Then the generals, for instance does this person feel the cold excessively, prefer the morning or the evening? I then examine the patient, again this not just a matter of good medical practice, but can give important clues to possible homeopathic treatment. For instance warm, swollen joints may suggest the medicines Apis or Bryonia; stiff contracted joints Causticum or Formica.
FIRST THE GOOD NEWS:
Arthritis treatment in homeopathy works but slowly
Homeopathy given for Arthritis pain will show gradual improvement and not sudden but without side-effects so its more advisable to take homeopathy and not just pain killers.
Treatment of arthritis in homeopathy will do wonders for you but in long term especially when a constitutional remedy is selected.
Arthritis homeopathic treatments are easy but only in the hands of an expert. Don’t fall for commercial chains of homeopathic clinics promising you the sky. Always look for homeopaths with MD degree and not just BHMS or LCEH
Now the NOT so GOOD news:
There are several forms of Homeopathy practised around the world.
Polypharmacy: where several remedies or a combination of remedies is given to the patient in repeated doses. The outcome of which is extremely poor.
Classical homeopathy: where a single dose of a single remedy is given and will give you the best results. But please make sure that your homeopath is not giving you and charging for placebo.
Symptom specific treatments: where only the symptoms or the effects of autism are treated. This will also give very poor results. This is also called HOMEO-ALLOPATHY.
Classical homeopathy has been used with some success to alleviate symptoms, both mental and physical, or to cure individuals with Arthritis especially when benign. For many people who have seen a large overall improvement in their arthritis, homeopathy has played a major role.
WHAT HOMEOPATHY COSTS?
Your first consultation with a private homeopath will usually cost between INR 500 to INR 10,000. Further appointments usually cost less – about INR 500 to INR 5000 depending on the location of the place and experience of homeopath. It will also depend on the skill level of his staff or assistants who usually take the first case and prepare it for the main consultant.
Your remedy will usually be included in the consultation price, but do check this first. Homeopathic tablets or other products usually cost around INR 100 to INR500 if you need to buy them separately in India.
Imperial clinics Mumbai
Dr. Shreepad A. Khedekar, BHMS, MD (homeopathy), a specialist for over 17 years, he has used homeopathy in his Switzerland, Belgrade and Mumbai practice for the last 17 years. He lectures in homeopathy at Switzerland, Croatia and at the Serbian Doctors Association (SLD) Teaching Centre in Belgrade and has a busy private practice in Dadar, Mumbai and at Shushrusha Citizens co-operative hospital, Mumbai and is the only Homeopath in their 60 year history.
Dr. Shreepad Khedekar is the Clinical Director, Imperial clinics Mumbai and Imperial clinics Belgrade, Consultant at Shushrusha Citizens Co-op Hospital Mumbai and Physician to several international stars and celebrities.
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