Arthritis is a general term that actually includes hundreds of different diseases. Whether you have osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, or another type, one of the primary symptoms is inflammation and pain in the joints. Whatever type of arthritis you’re suffering from, you’re likely struggling to overcome varying degrees of pain. If you’re taking opioids for arthritis pain, you need to know there is a better option.
How Arthritis Affects Your Daily Life
If you’re struggling with osteoarthritis you are likely suffering from pain, stiffness, and limited flexibility. Rheumatoid arthritis may cause similar symptoms as well as affecting organs in the body. Psoriatic arthritis and gout are also types of arthritis that can cause varying levels of pain, inflammation, and limited mobility. Arthritis pain can affect even the simplest of daily activities. Doing laundry, cooking, and walking up and down stairs can prove difficult. The severity of pain can also change on a daily basis. It can become all too easy to rely on strong pain medication to cope with arthritis pain.
How Opioids Work
Opioids are a strong narcotic that works to numb pain. They have the ability to bind to the opioid receptors in the brain and limit the pain messages that are sent to the brain. Both oxycodone and morphine are considered opioids. While opioid medications can be beneficial when carefully used over short periods of time, they are not without serious drawbacks. They are highly addictive and often interact with other medications. In 2016 there were approximately 42,000 deaths related to opioid overdoses. If you’re currently taking some type of opioid for your arthritis pain, it’s important to know that there is a safer alternative that can reduce and even eliminate pain.
How Physical Therapy can Help
Physical therapy can be an effective alternative to taking opioids for arthritis pain. There are several specific ways that a physical therapist can help an individual struggling with arthritis pain.
- Provide Manual Manipulation – A physical therapist can provide massage or use hot or cold therapy to ease arthritic pain. Massage can help improve circulation which can reduce joint pain.
- Use TENS Therapy – TENS is Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation therapy. This type of physical therapy includes pulses of electricity used to target arthritis pain. A physical therapist can place electrodes on the skin over the area of pain. Low amounts of electricity pass through to the joints. This can temporarily relieve arthritis pain.
- Teach Exercises – A physical therapist can teach you exercises that will increase flexibility and strength. These exercises can also reduce the pain you experience when carrying out daily activities. According to the American Physical Therapy Association, research shows that individuals with arthritis can exercise without making pain worse.
- Show How to Use Assistive Devices – During physical therapy treatment you can also learn how to correctly use devices such as braces, canes, or walkers.
- Suggest Home Modifications – A physical therapist will be able to make suggestions for your home environment that can help ease arthritic pain. These might include mats to stand on in your kitchen, ergonomic chairs, or certain types of mattresses or bedding you can use.
If you’re struggling with arthritis pain, a trained physical therapist can work with you to increase your mobility while decreasing pain. Even if you’re already taking opioids an individualized physical therapy program may be able to help you reduce the amount of medication you’re currently taking. Contact our physical therapists to find out how you can reduce arthritis pain.