However, other joints can be affected such as the finger joints, lower back and knees and there are the classic symptoms of pain and stiffness, which is worse the more activity is done. As the pathology progresses, bony growths can develop, limiting movement and creating pain. Osteoarthritis often affects the spine, with consequent chronic back pain, although mostly mild in nature. It can be more significant if the neck is affected. In Osteoarthritis, exercise can play an important role in maintaining function and limiting the progression of the disease. Drug therapy tends to be done more on a symptomatic basis, as needed, and especially with elderly people, surgery may be needed when necessary.
Rheumatoid arthritis however, is an auto-immune disease which can affect people at any age. One other common form of arthritis is called gout, and is due to the build up of uric acid in the body, the symptoms often focusing on the joints of the big toe. Common to most auto-immune diseases, there is no specific cause and it is a reflection of a breakdown in the body's ability to protect itself. The body's immune system, which normally serves to protect the body no longer does so effectively and it tends to produce an inflammatory condition of the joints. The symptoms may come on very quickly and intensely, producing a painful inflammation of one or more joints or it may come on more slowly over time, with varying degrees of pain, stiffness and infirmity. Mostly the hands and feet are affected, with symmetrical inflammation and pain. Conventional treatment tends to focus on suppressing the inflammation, first with non-steroidal anti inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) and then with other stronger medication such as corticosteroids. Blood work can verify if a rheumatoid factor is in the blood, confirming the diagnosis.
Homeopathy treats arthritis by helping the body reestablish balance. The correct remedy works with the body's immune system, in a way realigning it to work effectively. As it is the body itself that has created this condition, it has to be the body that cures it. It is not essential in homeopathy to know why the body is reacting in this way. It is enough to pay attention to the symptoms of the person and to put this into context of the health history and general individual profile of the person. The correct remedy can be found in this way and a curative response achieved.
In homeopathy, as in many other therapies, a cure can only be achieved within the limits of what the body is capable of doing. In the case of arthritis, if a joint has been structurally damaged due to chronic inflammation and wear and tear, homeopathy will not be able to restore cure. However, it can prevent further deterioration and offer symptomatic relief.
The problem that homeopaths have with suppressive therapies (such as steroids) is that it only inhibits the inflammatory process of the body without offering the body a way of restoring health. In other words, it rarely cures the condition. People often become dependent on these medications, with consequent problems of side effects. Whilst they can be very effective in the short term and are necessary when no other options are available, a more curative, long-term treatment needs to be achieved. This is what homeopathy can offer people with arthritis.
Diet may be another factor to consider when treating rheumatoid arthritis and gout. Certain people may be reacting to certain foods, creating inflammation of the joints. A diet lacking appropriate oils (omega 3,6 and ) may also predispose a person to RA and may require supplementation and dietary change. A non-meat diet may also be effective in minimizing the condition. Other dietary factors may be looked into with a dietary specialist.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a common pathology in western culture. It is one more sign of the challenges our immune systems face in the modern age. The more chronic form tends to affect people over the age of 50, but more acute and intense forms can strike at any time, even in childhood. Given homeopathic theory that believes that the body is always trying its best to protect itself and the integrity of the whole organism, the affliction with acute rheumatoid arthritis is an indication of a fairly compromised immune system, especially when afflicting a young person and one that may take quite some time to treat effectively. As with many chronic conditions, the possibilities of a condition relapsing is always there, and the homeopath will be seeking to ensure that the remedies given not only give immediate relief to the condition but also be looking to prevent relapses in the future.
However, homeopathy can effectively treat of cases of Arthritis and will be able to establish an overall improvement in the health of a person seeking treatment. As has been mentioned, homeopathy treats the whole person, in this case the arthritis being the focal point but only seen within the context of the person's overall health.