In 2019, Priya Prakash, who is in her 40s, started experiencing severe knee pain. Even daily activities like sitting and climbing stairs caused pain. She could not bend her knees and it was a task to stand from a sitting position. She was also going through perimenopause (the transitional time during which hormonal levels start to change before menstruation completely stops).
An x-ray of her knees revealed that she had osteoarthritis. Her physician suggested exercises and prescribed pain medications, which did not help in the long run. When the pain persisted, she sought the help of a homeopathic physician, who prescribed medicines and suggested lifestyle and dietary changes after taking her detailed history.
Following two months of regular intervention, Prakash experienced lesser pain. “The medicines and other lifestyle changes helped me a lot in managing my pain. I feel much better now,” she reported.
What is osteoarthritis
Osteoarthritis is a condition that affects the joints. A cushion between the bones called the protective cartilage prevents them from rubbing against each other and aids in smooth gliding movements. However, as we age, this cushion wears down causing the bones to rub against each other.
Read more about osteoarthritis here.
Dr Shalini Murthy, consultant at Chirantana Homeo Care, Bengaluru, explains, “The condition can lead to symptoms such as pain, stiffness, swelling and difficulty in flexibility and movement.”
Genetics, obesity, and injury to the joints can all trigger the condition, adds Murthy. According to the National Institute of Health, USA, women are more likely to be affected by osteoarthritis than men, especially those over 50. However, the condition can affect people of any age.
According to a 2022 study published in the Frontiers journal, decline in hormonal levels during menopause is another risk factor of osteoarthritis.
Where homeopathy can help
Dr Saurav Arora, consultant at Arora’s Homeopathic Clinic, New Delhi, says, “Homeopathy offers an individualised management plan after taking a detailed history. In osteoarthritis, understanding the cause is key to suggesting appropriate diet and lifestyle changes along with medicines.”
Since obesity is linked to both occurrence and worsening of osteoarthritis, it is important to add exercises to the routine to prevent or manage the condition, adds Dr Murthy.
A customised plan can aid in significantly reducing pain and slowing down the progression of the condition. The outcome of the management also depends on the stage of the condition. Early diagnosis can help in improving the quality of life to a great extent, says Dr Arora.
Addressing nutritional deficiencies can also help with the symptoms, he adds.
Tips from experts
- Stretching and low-impact aerobic exercises can be helpful. Adding strengthening exercises to the routine is also important as strong muscles can better support the joints. One can consult a physiotherapist for an individualised exercise routine.
- Having a healthy diet to maintain weight is essential. Eating food containing antioxidants like green leafy vegetables, garlic, nuts and omega-3 fatty acids can help with reducing the intensity of symptoms.
- Activities that involve repetitive joint movements and high levels of impact increase the risk of osteoarthritis. Thus, taking breaks and warming up to such activities are important.
- Constant stress can tense up muscles, worsening the symptoms of osteoarthritis. Thus, it is important to include stress-reducing activities like yoga and meditation. Tai Chi, which is a series of gentle movements, also helps in maintaining both physical and mental health.
- The heat from hot compresses can help in alleviating pain by relaxing the muscles and joints. Some may find cold compresses helpful. Therefore, it is best to take a physician’s advice about the kind of compress to use.
- A study indicates that massaging therapy improves the ability to perform everyday activities. Homeopathy experts too recommend using medicated oils in their individualised management plan.
- Vitamin D through regular sunlight exposure can help maintain bone health and prevent the progression of osteoarthritis.
- Processed foods must be avoided as they can worsen the symptoms.
- A quality sleep of eight uninterrupted hours is recommended as studies suggest that insufficient sleep is associated with knee joint pain.