Homeopathic Remedy Good as Drug for Ankle Sprain
Ankle sprains are among the most common injuries that can happen to athletes and non-athletes alike, and they also can be quite uncomfortable or painful. How should you treat them? A recent head-to-head study indicates that a homeopathic remedy (Traumeel®) is just as effective as a conventional nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID; diclofenac sodium) in relieving pain and improving function.
How do a homeopathic remedy and drug compare?
About 25,000 people per day experience a sprained ankle in the United States, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Some of these are sports injuries, but many are also the result of stepping off a curb the wrong way, tripping over objects, or stumbling around on high-heeled shoes.
A sprained ankle occurs when the ligaments in the ankle, which hold the joint and ankle bones in position, are stretched beyond their normal range. If the ligaments are stretched too far, the ligaments can tear.
In most cases, over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs (e.g., ibuprofen, naproxen), along with ice and rest, are sufficient to treat the pain and inflammation associated with a sprained ankle. The prescription drug diclofenac sodium (Cataflam, Voltaren) also is sometimes used.
But what about a homeopathic remedy? In a large scale clinical trial, the Traumeel Acute Ankle Sprain Spain (TAASS) Study, investigators compared the use of the homeopathic remedy known as Traumeel (both ointment and gel) with diclofenac gel 1% in 449 individuals who experienced ankle sprain.
The participants were randomly assigned to be treated with either 2 grams of Traumeel ointment (152 individuals), Traumeel gel (150), or diclofenac gel (147) three times daily for 14 days. All the participants were then followed up for six weeks.
The participants reported their levels of pain relief, which were as follows:
- After seven days, declines in the standard pain scale (Visual Analogue Scale, or VAS) were 60.6% in the Traumeel gel group, 71.1% in the Traumeel gel group, and 68.9% in the diclofenac gel group.
- After seven days, total pain relief was reported by 8.5%, 5.0%, and 5.9%, respectively, of the patients
- By day 14, all three groups also showed similar scores on the Foot and Ankle Ability Measurement (FAAM) scale
- At six weeks, all the participants reported total pain relief and normal function of the ankle. The median time to reach normal ankle function was 19.09 19.35, and 19.39 days, respectively.
In other words, use of Traumeel and diclofenac both produced similar results. In addition, side effects, which were reported by 31 of the 447 (6.9%) patients, were mostly mild or moderate, and both treatments were tolerated equally well.
What is Traumeel?
Traumeel is a combination homeopathic remedy that consists of 14 different active ingredients with properties that address multiple factors in the inflammatory cascade. Unlike classical homeopathy, in which a single-ingredient remedy is chosen for an individual based on that person's makeup (constitution), symptoms, and other factors, combination homeopathic remedies contain two or more active homeopathic ingredients designed to treat a specific ailment.
In the case of Traumeel, the indication for its use is relief of minor joint and muscular pain, such as ankle sprains. Its active ingredients can help reduce pain associated with injury or bruising, stimulate the healing process, provide immune system support, relieve joint pain, and treat minor bleeding, depending on the ingredient.
In a previous study, reported in 2008, German physicians examined use of Traumeel (69 patients) and conventional treatment (67 patients) who had various musculoskeletal injuries, including sprains, strains, and contusions of the ankles, knees, and hands.
Pain and inflammation were completely resolved at the end of treatment in 41 (59.4%) of patients treated with Traumeel compared with 37 (57.8%) of those treated conventionally. No patients in the Traumeel group reported side effects, while there were six adverse events in the conventionally treated group.
The authors of the study noted that "Traumeel was safe in use and judged by physicians to be better tolerated than conventional medicines."
In the TAASS, the authors showed that Traumeel and diclofenac were essentially equally effective in relieving symptoms of a sprained ankle. Traumeel is an over-the-counter homeopathic drug that can be considered as an effective alternative to prescription diclofenac for minor joint and muscular pain.
American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
De Vega CG et al. A randomized, controlled, multicenter study on the effectiveness of Traumeel (ointment and gel) in terms of pain reduction and function improvement compared with diclofenac gel in acute ankle sprain. Selected abstract from Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases, 2012 Jun; 71(suppl III; SAT0423)
Schneider C et al. The role of a homeopathic preparation compared with conventional therapy in the treatment of injuries: an observational cohort study. Complementary Therapies in Medicine 2008 Feb; 16(1): 22-27