Context: Arnica is commonly used by the public as a treatment for bruising and swelling.
Objective: To assess whether Arnica administration affects recovery from hand surgery.
Design: Double-blind, randomized comparison of Arnica administration versus placebo.
Setting: Specialist hand surgery unit at the Queen Victoria NHS Trust.
Participants: Thirty-seven patients undergoing bilateral endoscopic carpal-tunnel release between June 1998 and January 2000.
Intervention: Homeopathic Arnica tablets and herbal Arnica ointment compared to placebos.
Main outcome measures: Grip strength, wrist circumference, and perceived pain measured 1 and 2 weeks after surgery.
Results: No difference in grip strength or wrist circumference was found between the 2 groups. However, there was a significant reduction in pain experienced after 2 weeks in the Arnica-treated group (P<.03).
Conclusions: The role of homeopathic and herbal agents for recovery after surgery merits further investigation.