PainSci summary of Brinkhaus 2006?This page is one of thousands in the PainScience.com bibliography. It is not a general article: it is focused on a single scientific paper, and it may provide only just enough context for the summary to make sense. Links to other papers and more general information are provided at the bottom of the page, as often as possible. ★☆☆☆☆1-star ratings are for negative examples, fatally flawed papers, junk science, suspected fraud. Ratings are a highly subjective opinion, and subject to revision at any time. If you think this paper has been incorrectly rated, please let me know.
This study compared a homeopathic preparation of arnica (Traumeel) to a placebo in patients who’d had knee surgery. Changes in swelling were determined by measuring knee circumference. Patients receiving the homeopathic arnica had 0.7% less swelling — a statistically meaningless figure. No one can detect a 0.7% reduction in swelling!
However, the authors — presumably pro-homeopathy, publishing in a homeopathy-friendly journal — somehow squeezed a positive conclusion out of these results by reporting only on the best-performing sub-group of 57 patients, who had 1.8% less swelling — statistically significant but still very small and from a small group. They also called the 0.25% change in the largest group of 227 a “positive trend,” which is extremely misleading. Statistically insignificant results aren’t a trend. An honest conclusion to this study would read, “Homeopathic arnica had no statistically significant effect on post-surgical knee swelling.”
Simple averaging of the results from all three groups results in the completely underwhelming 0.7% figure. Since all three groups were so similar, there’s no important reason to consider them separately.
original abstract†Abstracts here may not perfectly match originals, for a variety of technical and practical reasons. Some abstacts are truncated for my purposes here, if they are particularly long-winded and unhelpful. I occasionally add clarifying notes. And I make some minor corrections.
OBJECTIVES: We investigated the effectiveness of homeopathic Arnica montana on postoperative swelling and pain after arthroscopy (ART), artificial knee joint implantation (AKJ), and cruciate ligament reconstruction (CLR).
DESIGN: Three randomised, placebo-controlled, double-blind, sequential clinical trials.
SETTING: Single primary care unit specialised in arthroscopic knee surgery.
PARTICIPANTS: Patients suffering from a knee disease that necessitated arthroscopic surgery.
INTERVENTIONS: Prior to surgery, patients were given 1 x 5 globules of the homeopathic dilution 30x (a homeopathic dilution of 1:10(30)) of arnica or placebo. Following surgery, 3 x 5 globules were administered daily.
PRIMARY OUTCOME MEASURES: The primary outcome parameter was difference in knee circumference, defined as the ratio of circumference on day 1 (ART) or day 2 (CLR and AKJ) after surgery to baseline circumference.
RESULTS: A total of 227 patients were enrolled in the ART (33% female, mean age 43.2 years;), 35 in the AKJ (71% female, 67.0 years), and 57 in the CLR trial (26% female; 33.4 years). The percentage of change in knee circumference was similar between the treatment groups for ART (group difference Delta=-0.25%, 95% CI: -0.85 to 0.41, p=0.204) and AKJ (Delta=-1.68%, -4.24 to 0.77, p=0.184) and showed homeopathic arnica to have a beneficial effect compared to placebo in CLR (Delta=-1.80%, -3.30 to -0.30, p=0.019).
CONCLUSIONS: In all three trials, patients receiving homeopathic arnica showed a trend towards less postoperative swelling compared to patients receiving placebo. However, a significant difference in favour of homeopathic arnica was only found in the CLR trial.
One article on PainScience.com cites Brinkhaus 2006 as a source:
- PS Does Arnica Gel Work for Pain? — A detailed review of popular homeopathic (diluted) herbal creams and gels like Traumeel, used for muscle pain, joint pain, sports injuries, bruising, and post-surgical inflammation
This page is part of the PainScience BIBLIOGRAPHY, which contains plain language summaries of thousands of scientific papers & others sources. It’s like a highly specialized blog. A few highlights:
- Effectiveness of customised foot orthoses for Achilles tendinopathy: a randomised controlled trial. Munteanu 2015 Br J Sports Med.
- A Bayesian model-averaged meta-analysis of the power pose effect with informed and default priors: the case of felt power. Gronau 2017 Comprehensive Results in Social Psychology.
- The neck and headaches. Bogduk 2014 Neurol Clin.
- Agreement of self-reported items and clinically assessed nerve root involvement (or sciatica) in a primary care setting. Konstantinou 2012 Eur Spine J.
- Effect of NSAIDs on Recovery From Acute Skeletal Muscle Injury: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. Morelli 2017 Am J Sports Med.