If You Have Arthritis, You Don’t Have to Turn to Opioids

Feb20th 2022

Physical Therapy Can Help Treat Your Arthritis the Natural Way

Every day in the United States, 130 people die as a result of an opioid overdose. It’s a staggering statistic that, sadly, affects almost every community in our country, as opioid abuse and addiction impacts people from all walks of life. Many people who develop an addiction to opioids were first prescribed them by a doctor to treat acute or chronic arthritis pain. The issue is that opioid medications:

  • Can be highly addictive
  • Only hide symptoms of pain—they don’t address the underlying causes, which makes opioids less cost-effective over time
  • Are associated with an increased risk of uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms and depression

Unfortunately, researchers believe that, in addition to an opioid epidemic in this country, there is also a chronic pain epidemic. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately one in every five American adults experiences chronic pain as a result of arthritis or another condition.

If you are one of these people, please contact our physical therapy office right away to set up an appointment. We can put you in touch with a caring and skilled physical therapist who can help you manage your arthritis pain.

Our highly trained physical therapist at Evolving Gait Physical Therapy will create a therapy treatment plan that is best for you.

3 ways physical therapy helps manage arthritis

Medications, even opioids, may be appropriate in certain cases. But experts believe people with many types of chronic pain, including arthritis, should try physical therapy first.

Here are three ways a physical therapist can help you:

1. Relieving symptoms

Physical therapy uses a combination of “passive” and “active” techniques to help people reduce their pain and improve their overall health and well-being. Unlike medication, physical therapy services can make you feel better while also correcting the underlying issues contributing to your condition.

For instance, arthritis joint pain is often caused or exacerbated by weak muscles or abnormal movement patterns that increase pressure in the affected joint.

Physical therapy treatments like therapeutic exercises and joint mobilizations can help minimize these issues while also decreasing discomfort, reducing inflammation, and improving joint range of motion.

Joint mobilization techniques, including spinal manipulation, can also modulate your nervous system and trigger the release of powerful pain-relieving chemicals in your body for significant relief and whole-body healing.

Other techniques your physical therapist may offer you for your arthritic joint pain include:

  • Soft tissue mobilization and massage
  • Modalities like electrical stimulation, ultrasound, and diathermy
  • Kinesiotaping
  • Exercises to improve balance, coordination, and strength
  • Breathing exercises
  • Training to improve posture and ergonomic set up at work or home

2. Adding more activity into your daily life

Regular physical activity, including strength training and aerobic exercise, is one of the most effective ways to improve arthritis joint pain. But if you’re always in pain, you may not feel like you’re able to safely workout. This may lead to worsening joint function and even weight gain, which makes arthritis even worse. What to do? This is where physical therapy comes in.

By working with a physical therapist, you can get your pain under better control so you can go do those active things you know are good for your body. A physical therapist can also help you learn how to move more safely, such as by teaching you efficient ways to move or pace yourself so you don’t end up being unsafe or doing so much that you’re laid up in bed for days after your workout.

Our physical therapists are also able to help you problem-solve and compensate for mobility limitations by fitting you for adaptive equipment such as canes, crutches, orthotics, and braces. These devices can be valuable tools that make you safer and more independent as you set out on your pain-relief journey.

3. Explaining the cause of arthritic pains

Research shows that a person’s beliefs and fears about pain strongly influence how bad their pain feels and how long it lasts. Many things like stress, temperature, movement, and even acute illnesses like the flu or common cold can also make your chronic joint pain feel worse.

Research-backed techniques such as therapeutic neuroscience education (TNE) allow a physical therapist to help you explore your beliefs about pain and understand why pain happens.

Simply increasing awareness is proven to help people feel less fearful of pain and be in better control of their symptoms. This is strikingly different than simply taking a pill and hoping it’ll make your pain go away.

Turn to a physical therapist today

Prescription opioids, according to the CDC, are not the best option for many types of chronic pain, including arthritis. Non-opioid treatments, such as physical therapy, are the preferred first line of defense.

Our physical therapists can help you live with less pain, without relying on expensive and potentially harmful drugs. In many cases, your physical therapist may even help you avoid surgery!

Relieve your pain the natural way – get started on a PT treatment plan today

We care deeply about people who live with chronic pain; it’s a difficult situation that many of our patients face.

If you’d like to find out if drug-free pain relief is a possibility for you, please contact us today to make an appointment.

We can help you live a comfortable and happy life, without the need for opioids!

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