Help me Walk, A Case of Chronic Back Pain and Arteritis
Updated: Aug 29, 2019
Homeopathic remedies, when prescribed under the care of a professional homeopath, can make a big difference for patients suffering from chronic pain pain or arteritis. This case is an example of how remedies selected for the individual symptoms of a patient can help alleviate his chronic pain symptoms, even when these have lasted for years. The treatment of acute sciatica is also demonstrated in the course of his treatment.
Quentin is a middle aged man who consults me on November 25th, 2014 for arteritis, a possible mini-stroke and chronic low back pain. Arteritis is an inflammation of the arteries (blood vessels) in the body and can happen in different locations including the head and the legs. Quentin explains:
"All of this arrived due to the pressure of work and life. I blacked out for 30 minutes one day while sitting in the back yard. I could not remember what happened. At the hospital, they ran some tests, but could not find anything. Maybe it was a small stroke. They did diagnose me with arteritis in my legs."
"I find it hard to walk for more then 10 minutes. I walk for 10 minutes then have to sit 5 minutes and then walk 20 minutes and then sit for 5 minutes again. When I walk, I get numbness and pins and needles at back of my legs and it then turns into pain. This is why I need to sit. It is also caused by arteritis."
Arteritis is an inflammation of the arteries (blood vessels) in the body.
Quentin also has chronic low back pain lasting for a few years. He takes daily anti-inflammatory medication for this and the arteritis. He also had a bout of severe back pain related to kidney stones in the last year and is under investigation to possibly undergo surgery for this. His back is worse in the morning when wakes. He has trouble walking at that time and then it gradually gets better as he moves. This is a common sign of chronic back pain due to arteritis.
The main stresses in his life are job and family-related. He had to quit a job that was very demanding and very high stress. He was managing many people there. One of his children is having behavioural problems and sometimes becomes very violent and he is worried about him. On top of this, he had to sell his properties and move his family to another country, which was very stressful. This was scary for him, because of the uncertainty of getting used to new surroundings and the financial burden this caused them.
He used to smoke and drink heavily and is trying to reduce this now. The pins and needles in his legs and difficulty walking is much worse in the warmth and humidity of the summer. He has a strong fear of needles, blood and spiders.
Analysis and Prescription
From a medical perspective, Quentin's symptoms when he walks strongly ressemble those produced by a spinal stenosis on the low back and we must consider this as possible cause in his case. Spinal stenosis is a narrowing of the spaces where the nerves and arteries are in the back and this can compress these structures and lead to difficulty walking.
From a homeopathic perspective, Quentin's sensitive and lively nature point to plant remedies. Using Scholten's system of plant classification, his independent and choleric nature points to the Lamiidae (665.00) and Campanulidae (666.00) groups.
There is clearly a problem with his blood vessels and circulation (possible stroke, arteritis), so we should think of homeopathic remedies that have an affinity for this system. Nux vomica and Belladonna are 2 homeopathic remedies that meet all these criteria and can treat back pain of a chronic nature. I give him both these remedies to try at different times see which will help him the most.
Prescription: Take Nux vomica 30c, 1 dose, then wait 5 days. Then take Belladonna 30c, 1 dose and wait until our next follow-up.
Follow-ups and Progress
17 Dec 2014: Energy and Sleep Improving
One month has passed. After Nux vomica 30c, he had a feeling of elation and well-being for 24 hours. His sleep got deeper and he had more energy. He was able to reduce the amount of narcotic pain killers he needed in the next few days. He felt a bit less anxious as well. This got even better after the second remedy (Belladonna 30c), both in terms of sleep and mood:
"my wife said I was more relaxed and more patient and I feel quite a bit more relaxed"
When a remedy improves a patients sleep and energy, this is a very good sign in homeopathy as it indicates that the remedy is helping to rebalance things in a deep level. When this happens, general physical improvements in many different body parts are almost always to be expected. For now, his physical pain has not improved much but we are headed in the right direction.
Plan: Repeat Belladonna 30c at regular intervals every 5-7 days or when symptoms return.
16 Jan 2015: The Back Pain is Gone!
Now his back pain in the lower left back has been completely gone for the last 3 weeks. It is unclear if this was due to kidney or coming from his spine, but it is gone. He has also completely stopped taking his painkillers and now taking his inflammatory medication only once every 4-5 days instead of daily. He says that in the past when he had tried doing this he was "on his knees" and unable to walk within 2 days, but now he is managing ok.
It is important to note that we never ask patients to stop their conventional medication during homeopathic treatment. We always ask them to manage any changes in this area with their prescribing physician as they are the experts in this area. But some patients have medication that they can take as needed as per their doctor's instructions, and thus have some control on how much medication they can take.
His energy and mood are not as good now. They have gone back to the baseline levels before he started treatment with us. He is having much more stress at home with his son, who is having problems with drug addiction. His boos in his new job is also making his life miserable with constant demands. This is weighing on him. In addition, he has had a skin growth for many years now and that has been bothering him more recently.
Plan: Physically he is doing well as he has been able to reduce pain and anti-inflammatory medication a great extent. But we see that the improvements on the general level are not sustained. This indicates that the strength of the remedy needs to increase now. So I give him Belladonna 200c, which is stronger then 30c. But because of his skin problem, I also think of Dulcamara. This is another remedy in the same plant family as Belladonna, but has a strong affinity for his skin growth and some of his other smaller symptoms. Prescription: Belladonna 200c, 1 dose. If you are not improving well after 4 days then take Dulcamara 30c.
5 Feb 2015: A Change of Remedies
His mood and energy pick up fast after Belladonna but he found that Dulcamara gave him an even better effect. He sleeps much better again. He had had to start his anti-inflammatories again but only half of what he used to take before and he is not taking any pain killers. He is taking an antibiotic cream for his skin, which is helping. His back is still aching a lot in the morning and bothering him.
Plan: Repeat Dulcamara 30c every few days as needed.
9 April 2015: Go Ahead, Take a Stride
Now he is making real progress in terms of his physical pain:
"I walked more in March then I have been able to in the last 2 years. I still have to take a pause after each 20 minutes but they are not as long as before…. I walked 15-20 km some days and no backache. My legs were still getting numb but not as much as before."
His backache in the morning is now completely gone. He feels some general stiffness in the whole body like he always had, but he doe snot have the debilitating back pain. His energy is also continuing to improve and his craving for cigarettes has reduced, allowing him to smoke even less then before. Medically, his symptoms of chronic back pain and arteritis in his legs are resolving, to both his delight and mine.
Plan: continue Dulcamara 30c every few days as needed.
22 September 2015: Acute Sciatica Treated with Homeopathy
He does not come for 5 months as he has been doing very well and has had very little pain. But in the last week, after lifting some heavy suitcases, he develops severe low back pain and sciatica extending into his left leg. It is constant, 24 hours a day. He was unable to walk yesterday and had to take Tramadol, an opioid pain killer. I go over his symptoms and Dulcamara still covers them, but i increase the strength (potency) of the remedy as his pain is so acute.
Plan: Dulcamara 200c, one dose. I also give him a back-up remedy to take in case Dulcamara doe snot give enough relief.
24 September 2015
We have a phone consult. He states he is completely better and must go to work. I ask him not to repeat the remedy for now. This results show how quickly homeopathy can act when the right remedy is selected. This remedy has to precisely math the symptoms.
I see him again in November 2015 and his back pain has still been gone. He feels better overall. He now talks to me about some other health concerns and I conduct a new assessment and continue his treatment.
In this case, we see the results of homeopathic treatment over a few months for conditions that have lasted a few years. In this case, his chronic back pain and arteritis (artery inflammation in his legs) are alleviated. Also, we see how homeopathy does not only treat one part of the body but helps the person's overall health, including their energy, sleep, mood and overall vitality and well-being. Ultimately, we want to see the quality of our patient's lives to improve. Quentin is happy with this result and so am I.
For more information one the treatment of chronic back pain, please visit our Chronic Back Pain Clinic.