Be kind to your knees, you'll miss them when they're gone – these lyrics from a song speak volumes and only a patient of osteoarthritis will know the significance of these words. May be the author had this disease, may be he didn’t, but he surely knew what he said is going to get famous one day!
Osteoarthritis is one of the most common forms of arthritis usually occurring after middle-age. It is a degenerative disorder that affects knees (most commonly) and hips as well as joints of the hands, feet and spine. Being progressive in nature, its treatment is mainly aimed at pain control and improving the mobility; Homeopathy can offer safe and effective treatment in terms of both of these.
In a study conducted at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine in the Division of Geriatric Medicine, it was demonstrated that Homeopathic remedies do show positive response in the treatment of Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. At Dr. Batra, we have been successful in giving good relief to a large number of patients suffering from this disease and imparting a better quality of life to them. Go ahead and experience holistic healing with Homeopathy at Dr. Batra's.
What is Osteoarthritis?
I am old now and my joints hurt…
Commonly known as Degenerative Joint disease or Osteoarthrosis, this is one of the most common forms of arthritis. The pain in joints due to Osteoarthritis (Osteoarthrosis) is mainly related to aging, but there can be many other factors that can lead to its development.
Osteoarthrosis usually appears in middle age and majority of people develop these joint pains by the age of 65 years. Before the age of 55 years, the condition is more predominant in males whereas after 55, it is more common in women.
Osteoarthrosis can affect any joint though it is more commonly seen to affect the weight bearing joints of the body: the knees and hips. The joints of hands, feet as well as those of the spine can also develop Osteoarthrosis.
A large number of cases of osteoarthritis have no known cause and are termed as ‘Primary osteoarthritis’. When the condition occurs due to a known cause, it is referred to as ‘Secondary osteoarthritis’.
When the cushion (cartilage) between the bones in the joint begins to wear off, the movements of the joint cause pain and this is the primary mechanism of Osteoarthrosis. The condition generally tends to get worse over a period of time and as the cartilage disappears, the bones begin to rub on each other causing severe pain and reduced mobility.
‘Wear and tear’ is the rule for all things that are put to any kind of use. The same holds good in case of joints too. They function longer if you take good care of them, yet they do ultimately show up some or the other signs of being worn out.
Degeneration of the cartilage (the cushion) between the bones (that form a joint) is the primary cause of osteoarthritis. As the degeneration progresses, the cartilage may be completely lost leading to rubbing of the bones during the joint movement. This leads to pain and the grating sensation during any movement.
There can be numerous reasons why the cartilage wears off:
- As a part of the ageing process
- Joint injury, repetitive trauma
- Muscle weakness
- Being overweight (causes increased pressure on weight bearing joints)
- Abnormality of the joint anatomy (e.g. being bow legged)
- Presence of Gout, rheumatoid arthritis, septic arthritis or any other disease that affects bones or joints
- Growth hormone disorders
- Inappropriate footwear (causing increased and imbalanced pressure on the knees)
In cases where there is a known cause that induced the problem, the condition is called Secondary Osteoarthritis. Cases which have no known cause are termed as Primary Osteoarthritis.
I can’t squat on the floor as easily as before, I can’t climb up and down the stairs with the same ease any more, I dread the monsoon for it worsens all my joints … these are few of the common expressions you may have heard in your day-today life. These are common pointers towards Osteoarthritis.
The symptoms usually have a gradual onset and initially the patient may not realize it until the symptoms significantly affect daily functions.
Here is a list of some of the common symptoms that trouble OA patients:
- Deep aching joint pain that tends to be chronic
- Worsens after exercise
- Worsens from putting weight on the joint
- Worse in monsoon
- Is relieved by rest
- Grating of the joint with motion
- Joint swelling, warmth
- Limited mobility of the joint
- Morning stiffness
- Complaints may increase after a period of inactivity, e.g. sitting for a long time
- Hard lumps (Bone spurs) may form around the affected joint; commonly known as Heberden’s nodes when it affects the small joints at the end of the fingers
- Deformity and outward curvature of the knees referred to as ‘bowlegged’ (in advanced cases)
- ‘Bunion’ is an osteoarthritic swelling of the base joint of the big toe
- Limping (in cases of affection of weight bearing joints)
- Neck pain, lower back pain (in affections of the cervical or lumbar spine)
- Affection of joints of the spine can irritate spinal nerves causing severe pain, tingling and numbness in areas which are supplied by the affected nerve
The intensity of the symptoms varies from case to case. Some patients may have severe complaints though the X-rays may not show equivalent damage to the joint. On the other hand there are cases with extensive damage to the joint but the patients may experience only mild complaints.
How do I know it’s Osteoarthritis?
Examination of the painful joint can tell your doctor a lot about the disease but certain tests need to be done for the confirmation of the diagnosis.
Physical examination of the joint can reveal:
- Joint swelling
- Limited range of motion
- Grating of a joint with motion
Investigations that your physician may ask you to undergo:
X-rays: X-ray of the affected joint may reveal a narrowing of the space within a joint. This occurs because of the cartilage wearing off. Bony spurs around the affected joint can also be detected on x-rays.
Joint fluid analysis: A small quantity of fluid from the affected joint may be removed (arthrocentesis) for testing in a laboratory. It can detect any infection or the presence of gout which can also cause knee pain.
Arthroscopy: This is a procedure in which a tiny camera is used to visualize the interior of the joint. During arthroscopy, small incisions are made around the joint and a tiny camera is inserted to see the inside of the joint as well as to repair any abnormality that may be found.
Blood tests are usually not required except to rule out other diseases that may cause the joint pain such as Rheumatoid arthritis.
Coping with Osteoarthritis
Dealing with the pain of Osteoarthritis
Small changes in the lifestyle can go a long way in helping you to deal with your illness. Living with osteoarthritis may not be all that easy but you can give it your best shot to lead a pain-free life.
As with the medical treatment, the goals of lifestyle changes are:
- To reduce pain
- To improve mobility
Based on our experience of treating a large number of patients at Dr. Batra's in the last 35 years, we have seen that certain modifications in diet and lifestyle are very helpful for our patients. These have been clinically verified time and again and have a scientific backing as well:
- Increase antioxidant nutrients (found in fruits & vegetables) in your daily diet
- Essential fats (such as those in flaxseeds, oily fish, walnuts) help to control inflammation and must be included in diet
- Herbs such as curcumin are good for reducing inflammation
- Fresh pineapple has also been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties
- Avoid adrenal stimulants such as tea, coffee, sugar and refined carbohydrates
- Avoid carbonated drinks such as coke, pepsi etc. due to their phosphoric acid content
- Maintain a health weight: Being overweight is one of the commonest triggers of knee pain; reduce your weight if you are obese and maintain it if you are average.
- Exercise regularly: This is especially useful if you have knee OA. Exercising strengthens the leg muscles that support the knee and they absorb shock before it gets to the knee. However, the exercises must be learnt and done under the supervision of a physiotherapist. Exercises also help to maintain a proper posture which is very helpful in the long run.
- Wearing comfortable footwear, preferably cushioned ones, helps a lot since they properly support your weight especially if you have OA affecting your knees, hips or spine.
- Be regular with your medicines: Don’t wait for pain to peak before seeking any help.
- Be gentle in your movements, don’t exert any of your joint too much or put excessive pressure on any joint.
- Try hot or cold compresses on the affected joint. In an acutely inflamed joint, avoid hot compresses.
- Splints and braces can be used to support weakened joints.
- Water exercises, such as swimming, are especially helpful in some cases.
- Be observant about things that worsen your condition and try to avoid the same. In a similar manner, keep a watch for things that give you relief from pain and continue to pursue these.
Gentle relief for the aching joints…
At the Division of Geriatric Medicine in the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, a study clearly demonstrated that Homeopathic remedies show positive response in the treatment of Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. At Dr. Batra's, we have the proficiency and experience of treating osteoarthritis patients for the last 35 years. We have been successful in giving good relief to a large number of patients suffering from this disease and imparting a better quality of life to them. Holistic healing forms the foundation of the treatment that we provide at Dr. Batra's.
Homeopathy can offer good relief to patients with Osteoarthritis especially those in the early stages of the disease. The medication can help in controlling pain as well as improving the mobility of the joints. Most patients notice a reduction in the pain and stiffness after commencing treatment and improved mobility of the joints. An overall general improvement in the health is also noted by majority of them.
Since OA is a degenerative condition, it may not be possible to reverse the changes that have already occurred at the microscopic level on the joints but it is possible to slow down the further progress of the condition. In advanced cases, palliation is all that can be offered to the patients.
An important point to be noted about Homeopathic treatment is that the medicines can be continued for a long period (which is required on OA cases) without worrying about any side effects. The medicines are completely safe, non-toxic and non habit forming.