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Osteoarthritis - a happy result!

by Dr Angela Jones(more info)

listed in arthritis, originally published in issue 15 - October 1996

I was going to write about Irritable Bowel Syndrome this time. However, that will now have to wait. Instead, I feel that I must share my delight with you regarding a case which I followed up yesterday.

Enid is seventy nine years old and lives in a small valley village, the wife of an ex-mine worker. She consulted me a few weeks ago regarding homeopathic treatment for her arthritis.

Enid has had osteoarthritis for many years. She took a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug for 5 or 6 years but had to cease last year because of a massive haemorrhage from a duodenal ulcer, a direct side effect of the drug. The arthritis pain immediately started to recur and after a year on simple analgesia only, which she took to the maximum of eight tablets a day, she was experiencing miserable and debilitating pain in her knees, ankles, feet and hands.

The pain in Enid's feet was particularly upsetting. She described it as being "as if knives were being stabbed into the feet". She also described a nasty burning sensation across the tops of her feet. Her mobility was also limited by marked stiffness, particularly for the first few steps when walking, which were excruciating. The pain was not eased by heat – in fact, it was markedly worsened by any heat, whether radiant heat, hot baths or hot weather. Rain and damp were no problem to her at all, an unusual feature for osteoarthritis which is notoriously worsened by damp conditions.

Astonishingly, a routine enquiry regarding past illnesses or general complaints revealed only one problem – remarkable for a woman of seventy nine! Enid had long-standing and very troublesome catarrh.

It was associated with a rattly cough and profuse clear nasal discharge with a little postnasal drip. The catarrh was rarely infected and her sinuses did not trouble her. However, she had had no sense of smell or taste for many years. Interestingly, she had no history of allergies or skin problems.

Food wise, Enid loves salads, sour tastes, milk and eggs. Sweet and salt are equivocal and she dislikes fat. She is averagely thirsty.

She sleeps well, on her right side and perspires very little. She never feels the cold but can easily get overheated. The family history reveals quite a lot of heart and cerebrovascular disease as well as several cases of cancer.

In her character, Enid was obviously a basically cheerful soul with a lovely wry sense of humour She described herself as easy-going, never bearing a grudge and rarely crying – "What do I have to cry about?" An outdoor girl, she was not afraid of anything. Nor did she consider herself at all tidy or fussy. She never worries about anything.

When considering Enid's case, I was concerned that I would only be able to offer her limited help in view of the destructive changes that had already occurred in her joints. Her hands in particular were considerably misshapen by ruptured tendons and their function was accordingly impaired. However, she was clearly a generally healthy person with a good spirit and hopefully she would have sufficient healing energy to effect some improvement if one could find the right remedy.

As regards remedy selection, I was very taken by the catarrh! The rattling in her throat was very marked and I felt that it was vital that it should be included in any remedy which I gave. Her warm-bloodedness and the somewhat unusual worsening with heat was leading me towards Sulphur and this was indeed confirmed by the burning pains across the tops of the feet. On reflection, Sulphur fitted in with her happy-go-lucky personality and rather mischievous sense of humour Finally Sulphur is known to act against certain types of catarrh. Thus, although some of the food preferences did not fit and she was not as sweaty as one would perhaps expect, I prescribed three doses of the thirtieth centissimal potency to be taken twelve hourly.

Enid returned six weeks later. She was very happy with the result of the treatment. Her pains had decreased dramatically to the extent that she now took a maximum of two painkillers a day and often none at all. The stabbing pains in her feet had gone all together as had the burning sensation, She was eating, sleeping and feeling very well.

She seemed surprised when I asked after her catarrh, "Well, it's funny you asked me about that," she said. "I was just looking at a pile of gents hankies that I've got and thinking that I wasn't using them any more, I was going to give them to my son-in-law." Indeed, it seemed that Enid's catarrh was at least 75% better and she had experienced a return of her taste. The smell was still absent though.

Startled and delighted as I was by this wonderful result, I quickly turned my mind to the problem of what to do next. The question of the Second Prescription is a big one in homoeopathy. This is because it is so important not to introduce the influence of another remedy or even another dose of the same remedy before the patient's system has finished dealing with the first dose. In Enid's case it was very important not to be tempted into giving more Sulphur straight away.

More really can be less in homoeopathy. Instead we are waiting another month to watch Enid's progress. When this levels out, I will give more Sulphur, unless the picture changes for some reason. I also feel that she will probably benefit from the remedy Medorrhinum at some point in her treatment in view of her family history.

However, this may only be necessary it the case gets "stuck" somewhere along the line, It is quite feasible that Sulphur, that great polychrest, may take things through to their conclusion.

As my consultation with Enid drew to a close, she told me with great glee about the visit she had had from the local community occupational therapist. This lady had provided Enid with a selection of clever little aids and gadgets for her kitchen and around the house, Enid was absolutely delighted with this and explained that the combination of a decrease in pain thanks to homoeopathy and an improvement in function thanks to her aids had revolutionised her life. She was very happy – and so was I!


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About Dr Angela Jones

Dr Angela Jones works in NHS general practice and also privately, using homeopathy alongside conventional medicine. Dr Jones can be contacted via the Faculty of Homeopathy on Tel: 020-7566 7800.

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