Quite literally "arthritis" means "inflammation of a joint". Conventional medicine will classify arthritis generally as rheumatoid or osteoarthritis. The inflammation found in cases of gout can also be considered under this heading. Homoeopaths will be aware of these classifications but will be most concerned with the individual reaction and symptoms of the person suffering from arthritis.
Despite having the same disease label, two people suffering from rheumatoid arthritis may have very different symptoms. They may both complain of pain in their joints but for one the pain may be better for complete rest whereas the other may find that they become more stiff and uncomfortable if they stay still, so that to ease their symptoms they need to keep moving, if gently. It is this type of detail and difference in symptoms that will lead a Homoeopath to choose an individual remedy for their patient.
Arthritis is a chronic disease in that it is a long-term illness with occasional acute episodes but which tends to deteriorate over time. Conventional medical approaches tend to concentrate on alleviating symptoms where possible with surgery, drugs and some occupational or physiotherapy. People are increasingly aware of the side effects of drugs and where possible many choose to avoid or take the lowest possible doses. Drugs for arthritis include NSAID's (Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs); steroids, by mouth or injection; drugs to suppress the rheumatic disease process and drugs for acute attacks of gout. All these drugs have known and accepted side effects. Any patient taking them and any doctor prescribing them has to weigh up the benefits of the drugs against possible side effects and to reassess this once the person is taking the drug as we all react individually.
Often people consult a Homoeopath as a last resort after trying various conventional approaches. Inevitably this will mean that as well as the original condition, the Homoeopath needs to take into account the effects of any drugs or other treatments.
The Homoeopath will be concerned to try to determine the origin of the arthritis, whether it has been caused or triggered by trauma, emotional shock, infection, wear and tear or maybe an allergy. A case history will be taken to learn about the patient and their condition in great detail.
For some people a change in diet can ease some inflammation and arthritic pain. In my experience the main foods which have aggravated arthritic conditions are usually either wheat/gluten or the potato family. It may well be worth excluding completely one or the other from your diet for at least one month. It is important to keep to a balanced and varied diet, so any foods excluded should be replaced by healthy alternatives.
Massage, exercise, yoga and physiotherapy can all help ease tension and aid mobility. When in pain it is sometimes difficult to motivate yourself to keep to a regular programme but especially as regards exercise, the most effective regime is to work gently for short but frequent periods.
If your arthritic condition is severe or has been troubling you for some time, you may wish to consult a professional Homoeopath for a personal assessment.
It is important never to abruptly stop any medication prescribed for arthritis. If symptoms ease when taking Homoeopathic remedies then any reduction in conventional drug dosage should be discussed and supervised by your GP and Homoeopath.