Usage of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) among osteoarthritis patients attending an urban multi-specialist hospital in Lagos, Nigeria

Niger Postgrad Med J. 2011 Mar;18(1):44-7.


Background: Osteoarthritis (OA), a chronic degenerative disease of synovial joints is characterised by pain and stiffness. Aim of treatment is pain relief. Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) refers to practices which are not an integral part of orthodox medicine.

Aims and objectives: To determine the pattern of usage of CAM among OA patients in Nigeria.

Patients and methods: Consecutive patients with OA attending orthopaedic clinic of Havana Specialist Hospital, Lagos, Nigeria were interviewed over a 6- month period st st of 1 May to 31 October 2007 on usage of CAM. Structured and open-ended questions were used. Demographic data, duration of OA and treatment as well as compliance to orthodox medications were documented.

Results: One hundred and sixty four patients were studied.120 (73.25%) were females and 44(26.89%) were males. Respondents age range between 35-74 years. 66(40.2%) patients used CAM. 35(53.0%) had done so before presenting to the hospital. The most commonly used CAM were herbal products used by 50(75.8%) of CAM users. Among herbal product users, 74.0% used non- specific local products, 30.0% used ginger, 36.0% used garlic and 28.0% used Aloe Vera. Among CAM users, 35(53.0%) used local embrocation and massage, 10(15.2%) used spiritual methods. There was no significant difference in demographics, clinical characteristics and pain control among CAM users and non-users.

Conclusion: Many OA patients receiving orthodox therapy also use CAM. Medical doctors need to keep a wary eye on CAM usage among patients and enquire about this health-seeking behaviour in order to educate them on possible drug interactions, adverse effects and long term complications.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Complementary Therapies / classification
  • Complementary Therapies / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Hospitals, Teaching
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nigeria / epidemiology
  • Osteoarthritis / epidemiology
  • Osteoarthritis / therapy*
  • Pain Measurement
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Sex Distribution
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Urban Population / statistics & numerical data