Are stiffness and discomfort a regular occurrence in your life? Many people say yes to this question, but they assume they’ll always have arthritis pain.
If you’ve been losing mobility and productivity as a result of chronic joint inflammation, you may be disappointed or even alarmed to learn the truth about over-the-counter painkillers and their potential dangers.
Before we give you the facts about these medications, know that there is, fortunately, another alternative to their harmful side effects. If you’re seeking pain relief, you have a safer, more effective path toward arthritis pain management: physical therapy.
Causes of arthritis pain
Arthritis is a term that covers a wide range of debilitating joint disorders. For some people, it manifests as painful gout in the toe joint, while for others, it manifests as a bacterial joint infection. The majority of arthritis, on the other hand, is caused by one of two excruciating conditions:
- Rheumatoid arthritis – This type of arthritis is caused by an auto-immune disorder or dysfunction. The same defense mechanisms that normally fight disease-causing germs decide to turn on your joints, mistaking them for the enemy and attacking them. This causes painful inflammation that comes and goes, leaving joint swelling and deformity in its wake.
- Osteoarthritis – This most common type of arthritis, combined with some changes that take place during aging, is typically a natural consequence of a lifetime of joint movement. Safe joints not only provide a lubricating fluid to keep the ends of the bone moving smoothly but also a cartilage layer that serves as a part of shock absorption and anti-friction. Over time, however, the lubricating fluid output can begin to dry up, as the cartilage becomes thinner and wearier until it eventually breaks down completely. If you try to shift or place weight on the joint, this leaves you with discomfort, swelling, and inflammation that typically feels worse.
What’s so bad about opioids?
Many arthritis sufferers inevitably turn to medicine in the hopes of alleviating their symptoms. NSAIDs, steroids, and (in the most serious cases) opioid drugs can provide such relief for a short period of time. These drugs cannot treat the physical conditions that ultimately cause your symptoms; they can only suppress the symptoms.
According to Drugabuse.gov, “Roughly 21 to 29 percent of patients prescribed opioids for chronic pain misuse them. Between 8 and 12 percent develop an opioid use disorder. An estimated 4 to 6 percent who misuse prescription opioids transition to heroin.”
Furthermore, painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs can be dangerous if used frequently. NSAIDs can harm your internal organs, while steroids can cause everything from cataracts to osteoporosis. Opioids are dangerous not only because of their addictive properties but also because overdoses can (and do) result in death.
Choosing physical therapy over opioid medication
Physical therapy can help you find a pain relief plan for arthritis that improves your health without putting you at risk from medications. Physical therapy is a holistic, safe, and effective way to manage the symptoms of arthritis pain.
Our physical therapist will examine your joints to determine how advanced your arthritis has progressed and how it may be affecting your posture, gait, or mobility. Following that, you will be given a pain management plan that may include:
- Corrective devices – Your physical therapist can recommend specialized insoles and train you in the use of devices such as walkers or canes.
- Lifestyle guidance – Your physical therapist can recommend specific changes to your everyday ergonomics or lifestyle that will ease your pain.
- Physical therapy techniques – You may benefit from massage therapy, cold/heat therapy, manual therapy, aquatic therapy, or laser therapy.
- Exercise – Exercise can aid arthritis sufferers by boosting circulation, easing inflammation, strengthening joint tissues, and increasing range of motion. It can help you improve your balance if that’s become a problem for you.
Working with a physical therapist can help you to target the areas of pain and improve the range of motion, helping the joint to function optimally and helping you to experience less pain as a result.
Don’t wait any longer for pain relief
Long-term use of opioid-based pain medications can lead to a whole additional set of concerns. To start experiencing relief from arthritic pains, say goodbye to pain meds and contact your physical therapist. Our clinic is here to help you feel better, faster.
Don’t just numb your arthritic pain — manage it the smart, safe, effective way. Contact Good Hands Physical Therapy clinic!