Arthritis causes pain and inflammation in a joint. It affects around 10 million people, of all ages in the UK (1).
Structural and chemical processes of arthritis with common advice and treatments:
There are different types of arthritis, labelled according to the symptoms and causes.
Osteoarthritis; the protective cartilage at the end of joints does not repair as it should, and is thought to be connected to wear and tear/over-use, injuries, older age, or strain from being over-weight. This causes pain, swelling, stiffness and bony growths (1).
Symptoms can gradually improve and there are recommended steps to take for mild symptoms;
- regular exercise to strengthen and build up muscle and bones and also to ensure a healthy weight to avoid excess strain on the joints
- taking regular breaks from repetitive work/movement
- a healthy and varied diet to ensure adequate mineral and vitamin intake for repairing and strengthening joint bone and connective tissue
- wearing suitable footwear and taking precautions to avoid injury and damage
- using special devices to reduce the strain on your joints during everyday activities, eg walking aids, utensils with large easy grip etc.
For more severe pain and symptoms, you may be prescribed painkillers or have further examinations to consider surgery (although it is still useful to ensure you follow guidelines for mild symptoms because these will help your body respond most effectively).
Rheumatoid arthritis; this is an auto-immune condition where the body’s immune system responds to its own cells as if they were foreign - and thus sends an inflammatory response. The cells lining the joints are attacked leading to swollen stiff and painful joints and potentially longer term damage to cartilage and bone (1).
Rheumatoid arthritis can also include more general symptoms such as tiredness, fever, sweating, poor appetite, weight loss (1). Treatments again include lifestyle changes, medications, supportive treatments and surgery.
It can be advised to think of ways to boost your immune system;
- Diet and nutrition is very important – ‘what you put in is what you get out’. We all recognise that eating fruit and vegetables is healthy but you might want to consider why the food you is eat is so important and begin to learn about your ‘gut flora’ - the bacteria inhabiting your gut. Bacteria plays a crucial role in maintaining gut health and we need to feed and cultivate healthy bacteria. Here is an informative article by the BBC about gut health; http://www.bbc.co.uk/guides/zq7nj6f
- Regular exercise
- A healthy sleep pattern: https://www.naturally-well.co.uk/blog/make-the-most-of-sleep
- Reducing toxins including smoking, alcohol, and relating to diet above (eg reducing sugar, processed foods)
If the above considers mechanical and chemical processes, what about the energetic aspect?
Our physical bodies are alive and (hopefully) full of flowing energy. A dead body is lifeless, even though the heart and brain and all the structural aspects are still present. If we repair a structural part of the body which was involved in the physical death, the body would still not ‘come back to life’. This is because the energy has left – the life force which animated the body is no longer present.
Therefore it makes sense that we should consider this energy or life force or soul when we consider health. It is an aspect that has long been developed, from understanding meridians (energy channels) in Traditional Chinese Medicine to identifying chakras (energy centres) in Eastern spiritual traditions.
The idea that the physical body is the vessel for the soul to interact in this material world is widespread and many people are beginning to develop greater awareness of themselves, who they are and how they experience this life and connect with others. This involves understanding your flow of energy more, and identifying where it may get stuck, do you tend to have repeating patterns or does one health issue lead to another?
In homeopathy we understand that the life force animates the body and communicates through it. Physical and mental/emotional symptoms may be seen as clues as to how the energy is out of balance, or how the soul is out of sync with its life purpose. For example, in the book ‘The Healing Power of Illness,’ Dethlefson explores how a stiffening joint may potentially reflect a rigid stance taken against some aspect in their life.
Of course, we can’t always directly link our physical symptoms to our psychological, but inner conflict is one way or another presented in the outer body. Therefore finding a way to balance our energy, using our unique symptoms (physical, mental and emotional) as an accurate guide, can make this link between inner and outer, and present a new perception to us; a deepening of our personal and universal awareness.
The homeopath does not try to think what the solution is or make judgements. We all have our unique patterns. The homeopath aims to objectively observe the patterns of an individual and find a remedy, through a variety of methods; that matches the individual’s patterns.
‘Like cures like’.
The energy of the remedy (hence no material substance) stimulates the energy of the person, and that is why, often when an ailment is alleviated through homeopathic remedies, the person also feels some personal development or a subtle change in perception, being aware of something that they were not before.
Not everyone is predisposed to suffer from rheumatism, we all have different susceptibilities, even if we all did the same exertion repeatedly we would all experience different pains, different injuries in different locations. Those that do suffer with joints also have their unique experiences, what makes them better or worse, triggers and causes (physical and emotional), family and personal history, accompanying symptoms, cravings and aversions, to explore just a few points of difference.
In cases of arthritis, an understanding of the individual’s pain and experience with a unique set of symptoms can point to a remedy to stimulate their life force into a process of balancing, which may then no longer need to express itself physically. Where damage to tissue is irreversible, pain may still be alleviated.
If you would like to discuss an aspect of your health further to understand how homeopathy may be able to help, contact me for a free 20 minute consultation.
Autumn offer: £5 off all homeopathic consultations in October and November 2018.
2. Dethlefson, Thorwald and Dahlke Rudiger; ‘The Healing Power of Illness; the meaning of symptoms and how to interpret them’. 1997 Element Books.