Are You Ready to Find Relief Without Opioids?
When a person suffers from arthritis, particularly in a weight-bearing joint like the knee or hip, taking an opioid painkiller for relief can be a powerful temptation.
The bad news is that while an opioid can temporarily relieve pain, the patient’s bones continue to grind together, making the underlying cause of the condition even worse. And that’s even before you consider the addictive qualities of opioids. Rather than turning to opioids for your arthritis, consider the chemical-free alternative to arthritis pain: physical therapy.
The dangers of opioids
Both opioid prescription rates and deaths from opioid overdoses have quadrupled in the last two decades. Given these identical statistics, one can’t escape the obvious conclusion: Reliance on painkillers has gotten out of hand, and the consequences can be literally fatal. In a study published by the American Physical Therapy Association, titled “Beyond Opioids: How Physical Therapy Can Transform Pain Management and Improve Health,” this issue is exhaustively analyzed. It identifies three important waves of the opioid epidemic:
- Increases in deaths involving prescription opioids starting in 1999
- Increases in deaths involving heroin starting in 2010
- Increases in deaths involving synthetic opioids since 2013
Beyond extreme physical risk, over-reliance on prescription painkillers can have other detrimental effects on your health. Withdrawal symptoms can be harrowing. And while you’re still using them, opioids can lead to depression, which sets up a vicious cycle of self-medicating in order to feel better emotionally as well as physically.
The Centers for Disease Control offers some frightening statistics from opioid overuse in 2011:
- Sales of prescription painkillers to pharmacies and providers had increased 300% since 1999
- In 2010, 12 million people ages 12 and older reported using prescription painkillers “non-medically”
- More than 40 people were dying each day from overdoses involving prescription opioids
Fortunately, as the APTA study concludes, there is a safer alternative to opioid use: physical therapy. If you have been struggling with pain or discomfort, contact us today to find out how we can resolve your issues the natural way.
PT and arthritis relief
If you have been diagnosed with arthritis, you can work with a physical therapist to learn strategies that will help you manage your symptoms, without having to resort to painkillers. During your first appointment, be prepared to talk about your medical history with your therapist. You will be asked to describe your symptoms and how they impact your daily life. For example, does your arthritis prevent you from reaching things on a high shelf, walking up and down stairs, and so on.
During your first appointment, your physical therapist will likely have you do a few simple tests. The tests will vary based on which joints are suffering from arthritis. In general, expect to be tested on your range of motion in the impacted joints, as well as your strength and balance. These tests will be used to determine how far the arthritis has advanced, and to assist the physical therapist in crafting the best possible plan of treatment for you.
Manual therapy will likely be a part of the treatment strategy for managing your arthritis. This specialized type of therapeutic massage not only relieves stiffness and pain in arthritic joints, but can also help to loosen tissues up and extend your range of motion. All licensed physical therapists are trained in the use of manual therapy for arthritis.
Body mechanics will be another part of your arthritis treatment. Your physical therapist will teach you the proper way to carry out daily activities with minimal impact on your arthritic joints. This helps to prevent the grinding sensation and helps prevent the arthritis condition from worsening.
Exercise and weight management may also be a part of your course of physical therapy. Depending on the location of your arthritis, your therapist might recommend aquatic exercise in a pool for joint relief (as one possible example). The goal will be to increase your strength so that muscle structures can bear your weight better, without putting undue strain on arthritic joints.
How do I know if I have arthritis?
Arthritis symptoms can be managed with the help of physical therapy. Some of the most common symptoms that arthritis sufferers have to deal with include:
- Swollen Tissues: The pain and inflammation associated with arthritis can cause tissue swelling near the impacted joint. The area surrounding the joint might feel warm to the touch.
- Grinding Sensation: Arthritis is a result of lost cartilage, the material in the joints which acts as a cushion and lubricant between bones. The loss of cartilage can make it feel as if the patient’s bones are grinding together when they move.
- Lost Mobility: An arthritic joint can restrict your range of motion, to the point where you are unable to carry out daily tasks like you used to.
- Joint Stiffness and Aches: The joints are especially stiff upon waking and may feel sensitive or painful when touched.
- Pain: Arthritic joints may hurt during or after physical movement.
Contact us today
Physical therapy can help you manage the pain of arthritis without turning to powerful opioids or other painkillers. Call Good Hands Physical Therapy today to schedule your appointment with a licensed physical therapist.