Osteoarthritis is a condition where the articular cartilage on the ends of bones begins to break down. The main symptoms of this is joint pain, stiffness and difficulty with movement. As a result of the cartilage breakdown, the synovial fluid within the joint may increase to help with the friction, which may lead to swelling. Osteoarthritis can also lead to bony growths known as osteophytes which can cause the area to look disfigured, red and swollen. It is the most common form of arthritis in the UK and tends to affect women more than men. Normally associated with aging, it usually occurs in joints which have been most subjected to wear and tear or damage.
Osteoarthritis can affect any joints in the body however it more commonly affects the knees, hips, hands and spine. The onset of the condition is insidious and gradual. Symptoms are dependent upon how much the condition has progressed.
Pain in the joints, particularly during or after movement
Stiffness in the joints which may be worse upon waking up, or after a period of inactivity
Tenderness in the joints, particularly from light pressure
Inflexibility of joints and range of movement may be limited
Symptoms may be worse during cold rainy weather and after activity
Joints look larger or knobbly due to hypertrophy, growth of osteophytes
Swelling around the joints from soft tissue inflammation or excess synovial fluid
There might be redness around affected joints
Grating or crackling sounds or sensations
Atrophy- Weakness and muscle wasting (loss of muscle bulk)
Heberden’s or Bouchard’s nodes
Worse for activity, better with rest
Some commonly indicated homeopathic remedies for osteoarthritis
Bryonia is a big polychrest used widely in cases of rheumatism and is very effective in indicated cases of osteoarthritis, as it has a special action on the muscles, joints and synovial membranes. It is usually suited to people who have rheumatic pains and swellings, with dropsical effusions into the synovial membranes. There is an overall dryness that runs through this medicine, which can account for the stiffness in the joints. As a result they are extremely thirsty.
The overall constitution of the Bryonia person is robust, firm fibred and lean. A Bryonia patient with osteoarthritis will feel better from complete rest and application of pressure in affected areas. They may have aching in every muscle, and their pains are sharp, stitching (can feel like a needle poking into the affected part) and tearing.
The rheumatic complaints will develop slowly and they may be mostly right sided. There is a painful stiffness in the nape of the neck, as well as stiff and painful knees. In addition the joints are red, hot, swollen, with stitching and tearing pains; in particular there is hot swelling of the feet. A sudden change of weather may bring symptoms on or aggravate them.
Drawing pains in the lumbar region may cause the person to wake up from their sleep. There will be physical exhaustion as well as weariness and heaviness in all the limbs, swelling of the elbow extending to the upper arm, and a swollen sensation in the joints of fingers on writing or holding something, with pain on movement and touch. There may also be stitching pains in the leg extending to the knee, weariness of the thighs, which is worse ascending stairs and better from descending. The knee overall is stiff and painful.
The patient will feel better from complete rest (physical and mental), cold application, pressure, lying on the painful side and cold things. They will feel worse from any movement, changing position, jarring, talking and even thinking, they also have an intolerance to heat.
This is a valuable remedy in sub-acute and chronic rheumatism, lumbago and sciatica as it has a powerful effect on fibrous tissue and bones. The patient needing Phytolacca will be sore, aching, and have a bruised feeling all over the body which causes them to groan. There is also associated bone pain, where pain in joints feels worse in the morning because of the stiffness, as well as at night from warmth of bed, damp weather and hot applications.
The rheumatic swellings are hard, tender and very hot, and are worse from walking with stiffness in the knees and worse in the afternoon. The complaints tend to be right sided, with aching, soreness, restlessness and prostration. The bone pains may be syphilitic, and if there is sciatica this is also syphilitic in nature.
There may be shooting pain in the right shoulder with stiffness and inability to raise the arm, as well as aching in the heels, which is relieved by elevating the feet. There is swelling of joints and shooting pain in the joints. In fact the pains in general fly like electric shocks and shift rapidly, with stiffness and restlessness present. Interestingly there can be shooting pain in the cardiac region which alternates with pain in the right shoulder.
They feel worse from rain, damp, cold weather, at night, rest, first motion, on their right side; and may feel better from warmth, dry weather, change of position, continued motion, and aching is relieved by elevating the feet.
Calc Carb is one of the most useful remedies for arthritis and rheumatism, particularly when the symptoms are worse from cold or damp. There may be fatigue, muscular weakness, and imperfect formation of the bones. The pains are wrenching, shooting, cutting, or tearing, and they may be periodical and intermittent and sometimes confined to small spots. There are associated cramps, contraction, stiffness and weakness. It is well suited to people who are overweight or obese, and those who are overworked and jaded as a result.
There is a bruised pain in the back as if it is sprained, with also pain in the chest. There is also pain or pressure between the shoulder blades and nape of the neck, which is stiff and rigid. Pain in the lumbar region is worse in the morning, or when riding or from lifting a heavy weight. There may also be a sticking or drawing pain in coccyx.
The person may have arthritis of the finger joints with swelling and nosodities, with cramps in the hands all night and trembling in the afternoon. There is sweating of palms from the least exertion. There is also pain in the upper arm, with a beaten, sore feeling.
There is inflammation and swelling of joints, especially in the knees. Swelling of joints without inflammation. As previously mentioned, there may be a history of imperfect or late development of the bones, which can result in deformities or even softened bones. Conditions can be the result of prolonged exposure to damp or working in water.
Calc Carb is the chronic remedy of Rhus Tox and it is often used to complete the cure, when a case is begun with Rhus Tox. They have shared modalities, in that the pains of both are better for continued walking and are aggravated by lying or from rest.
The Calc Carb patient feels worse from physical and mental exertion, cold, water, damp, standing, morning and evening. They feel better from lying on the painful side, dry weather, and warmth.
Causticum is a deep acting medicine, which is well suited to aged people suffering with chronic osteoarthritis. It is a predominantly right sided medicine that is useful for people who are deeply concerned with the problems of the world, and may be irritable and anxious.
It is used in cases of chronic rheumatism, arthritis and paralytic conditions, where there are tearing and drawing pains in the muscular and fibrous tissues of the body with contraction of flexor muscles which leads to stiffness, shortness of the muscles and various joint deformities. The pains are severe and are likely to stay in one place for a long period of time. Occasionally the pain is accompanied by swelling of a joint, which eventually shrivels and tightens and thus becomes painfully stiff.
Burning, rawness and soreness are characteristic sensations of this remedy. There may be left sided sciatica, stiffness between the shoulders with a dull pain in the nape of the neck. There may also be dull tearing pains in the hands and arms, tearing pains in the joints, and nervous twitching of the muscles with jerking and quivering.
They feel better from warmth, damp, wet weather, and they feel worse from dry, cold winds, in clear weather and from the movement of being in a car or train.
They cannot walk without suffering. They have restless legs at night and there is cracking and tension in the knees, with stiffness in the hollow part of the knees.
This is a medicine first introduced by Dr Foubister, of which there are two types, one has been prepared from the synovial fluid knee of a patient suffering from osteoarthritis, and the other from the hip of a patient.
There is weakness with indifference and irritability, which is worse in the evening.
There is redness with swelling of joints, which are more right sided. In particular, there is redness, pain and swelling of the right shoulder, forearms and wrist. There is muscular pain in the right hip and pain in tendo-achilles.
The patient feels worse at night, and for first movement, and feels better for continued movement.
This is a very useful tincture for osteoarthritic pains, where there is a stiff and weary sensation. There is a prickling sensation in the limbs followed by painful aching. There may also be nodular swellings over the metacarpal and metatarsal joints.
Burning sensations are quite common with Eucalyptus, as well as pricking, stabbing and sharp aching. There is also an aspect of periodicity of symptoms with this remedy.
The patient feels worse at night and feels a desire for exercise.
For long term chronic issues such as osteoarthritis, it is best to consult with a qualified homeopath who will prescribe individualised remedies for you based on your whole health picture. If you are interested in finding out more about homeopathy and how it might help you, leave your details with me and I will be in touch to arrange a free call.