If You’re Taking Opioids for Your Arthritis Pain, This Blog is For You

130: that’s how many people on average die from opioids every day in the United States. It’s a stunning statistic that sadly impacts nearly every community in our country, since opioid abuse and addiction affects people from all walks of life.

Many people who become addicted to opioids were first prescribed them by a medical doctor as a way to manage an acute or chronic pain condition. The problem is, 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, in addition to an opioid epidemic in this country, researchers believe there is also a chronic pain epidemic, too. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 1 in 5 American adults report chronic pain caused by arthritis and other conditions. If you’re one of them, we encourage you to contact one our our offices today to schedule an appointment. We can connect you with a compassionate and highly skilled physical therapist who can help you alleviate your arthritis pain along with the other physical and mental symptoms associated with it.

3 Ways Physical Therapy Can Alleviate Your Pain

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. Physical Therapy Can Address Pain at It’s Source AS WELL As Alleviate 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. Physical Therapy Helps You Feel Better So You Can Exercise More

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 adpative 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. Physical Therapy Helps You Better Understand Pain Itself

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.

The Bottom Line

According to the CDC, prescription opioids are not considered the best choice for many types of non-cancer related chronic pain, including arthritis. Nonopioid approaches like physical therapy are the preferred first line of treatment.

A great physical therapist can help you live with less pain without having to rely on pricey and potentially harmful medications, and in many cases can help you avoid surgery.

Is Your Chronic Arthritis Pain Holding You Back?

We are so empathetic for people living with chronic pain—it’s a challenging situation that so many of our patients and even some of our loved ones face, too. If you’d like to finally see if drug-free pain relief is possible for you, contact TheraFit Physical Therapy today to schedule an appointment.

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The Truth About Physical Therapy For Arthritis

If you’ve already been diagnosed with a common form of arthritis such as osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis, you may have learned that these chronic joint pain conditions can’t be cured or reversed. It’s an unfortunate fact, but one that many people are forced to live with.

Did you know that at least 50 million Americans are struggling with arthritis? That’s a sizable chunk of the U.S. population, and if you have joint pain, there’s a good chance that you’re included in that statistic!

You might be wondering why even bother to pursue a course of physical therapy for your arthritis since there is no cure for it, and this blog is going to explain that to you. As it turns out, physical therapy can do quite a lot to help you control your symptoms and optimize your joint function. Keep reading to learn more about arthritis and how physical therapy can ease your chronic pain.

Arthritis: The Leading Reason For Chronic Joint Pain

Did you know that over 100 different underlying conditions can cause arthritis, or joint pain? It’s true. Unfortunately, these conditions tend to be chronic, or long-lasting, in nature.

Take rheumatoid arthritis, for example. This painful condition attacks your joints over time due to an autoimmune malfunction, causing increasing amounts of swelling and damage to your joints.

The most common kind of arthritis, as well as the one you’re probably more familiar with, is osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis is a progressive degeneration of the joint cartilage due to natural wear and tear. As the cartilage continues to disintegrate, your joints become increasingly stiff and painful over the years. This will end up hindering your mobility and functionality as it worsens, especially if you do not seek treatment.

Why not opt for surgery or medication?

There’s nothing more frustrating than sustaining painful physical damage that your body can’t repair or heal. In the most severe cases, some people with arthritis choose to undergo expensive, intense surgery to either fuse the joint in place (preventing painful motion) or replace the joint altogether with a metal implant. Surgery is not for everyone and it certainly is not the only option. If you can’t stomach the thought of major surgery, you might assume that your only recourse is life in a wheelchair or leaning on a walker, with a daily regimen of painkillers. The problem with this strategy is that the less you use your joints, the stiffer they will get, forcing you to take increasing amounts of medication just to get through the day.

Medications also only provide temporary relief and don’t get to the root source of your problem. They also won’t make you stronger and won’t preserve your mobility.

Preserving Mobility And Decreasing Pain With Physical Therapy

The sad truth is that we can’t turn back time when it comes to our health. Once a chronic, incurable condition develops, it’s here to stay.

There’s no reason to despair, however. Even if you can’t turn back the clock on the damage done to your joints, you can still do those joints a world of good through physical therapy. The kind of treatment our physical therapist recommends will depend in part on your baseline health and fitness, the type of arthritis you have, and the severity of the condition.

Your physical therapy plan will also be based on your specific goals, from relieving chronic pain to restoring your ability to perform particular activities. It may include:

  • Walking or cycling to keep your joints as limber as possible
  • Strength straining to build up the muscles that support and articulate your arthritic joints
  • Massage therapy to increase blood flow, relieve chronic inflammation, and reduce joint swelling
  • Corrective exercises and postural education to help you move around safely, either on your own or with an assistive device
  • The use of heat and cold to ease joint pain without drugs

These physical therapy treatment methods and other techniques can have a profoundly positive effect on your arthritis. You’ll find that you can move more freely and comfortably, and that you no longer feel the need to keep drugging yourself or enduring grueling surgery. By controlling your inflammation and preventing more stiffness from setting in, you’re setting yourself up for many more years of optimal mobility — despite your arthritis.

Are You Ready To See One of Our Physical Therapists?

If you’re interested in getting the ball rolling with treatment for your arthritis through physical therapy, don’t keep sitting around, waiting for us to call you! You have to take the first step towards bettering your health when it comes to a chronic condition like arthritis, so what are you waiting for?

Contact TheraFit Physical Therapy today to learn more about our services. Then schedule an appointment so that we can devise an effective arthritis management plan for you!

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Opioid Addiction: Why Taking Painkillers For Arthritis Pain is Doing You More Harm Than Good

Are you taking opioids for your arthritis pain? Did you know that opioids like morphine and oxycodone are actually making your arthritis worse? Drugs like these alter your perception of pain, but they don’t relieve it. So if you’re taking an opioid and believe it’s relieving your pain, know that it’s actually doing nothing to improve the symptoms of your arthritis. Opioids are not the only option you have to get relief from arthritis! Call TheraFit to schedule an appointment with a physical therapist to learn more about how treatment can help.

How Arthritis Happens

Osteoarthritis, or “arthritis,” is a degenerative condition that affects the joints. The connecting joints between bones are made of cartilage, and if that cartilage becomes weak or depleted, it can cause bones to grind and scrape together. One of the main causes of arthritis is simply getting older; our joints just wear out as we age and that’s normal. However, there are other factors like genetics, repetitive physical jobs, playing high-impact sports, or being overweight, which can increase a person’s chances of developing arthritis. This condition also affects weight-bearing joints, such as the hips and knees, but it’s common for it to also develop in many other joints.

How To Know If You Have Arthritis

Have you ever woken up in the morning and felt like a joint or two was stiff? The most common symptom of arthritis is pain in the joint or joints that have lost too much cartilage. Or what about every day activities, do you notice that simple tasks like bending down are painful for you? Activities that use an affected joint will cause pain; the joint will hurt if you touch it or apply pressure to it. A joint can also be considered arthritic if it makes cracking and popping noises when it is used. As a defense mechanism, your body might try to grow new bone structure in the affected joint, which will be extremely painful.

Physical Therapy Can Help Arthritis

As previously stated, opioids can alter how you perceive pain so that your brain thinks you are no longer suffering from the effects of arthritis. This is not a long-term fix. Your bones are still grinding together, your cartilage is being worn down, and ultimately your condition is worsening. Before you know it, you’ll be in need of an even stronger painkiller, and most likely a pretty expensive surgery down the road.

There are better options out there to relieve arthritis pain. Physical therapy is one of them! Physical therapy can help you get rid of painkillers once and for all, and also keep you from spending thousands for surgery. A physical therapist will examine you and determine what activities trigger your pain symptoms. From there, he or she will create a customized exercise program that will help support your joint structures, and ultimately relieve your arthritis pain.

A physical therapist will be able to show you how to adjust your work area and home so that you can put less stress on the impacted joints. There are a multitude of different therapies, but manual therapy (targeted massage of painful joints) will probably be included in your treatment.

Your physical therapy treatment will also include an exercise plan for you to do at home to improve your health. Losing weight can also be an effective way to relieve arthritis pain, so if you’re overweight, your therapist might include weight loss exercises and advice on nutrition in your exercise plan. It won’t all be on you to bear though, your physical therapist will be there to keep you motivated throughout your entire treatment!

Opioids carry significant health risks. While they may temporarily numb the pain of arthritis, they do nothing to slow it down. It’s time to try physical therapy, a safe and effective alternative that will improve your symptoms with no risk to you. Call Therafit today to get your appointment set up with your physical therapist, and get back to living a pain-free life.

How Can Physical Therapy Relieve Your Chronic Back Pain?

After dealing with Chronic back pain for years, many people consider costly surgeries or addictive pain medication to deal with the problem. But did you know that surgery and opioids aren’t the only options available to people suffering from this condition? If you’ve been dealing with chronic back pain and are thinking about surgery to finally feel some relief, contact Therafit today to learn about how working with a physical therapist can be an alternative solution to your chronic back pain.

What Does It Mean To Have Chronic Back Pain?

Back pain by itself is pretty simple to understand. It is pain a person experiences in their back, usually along the spine or in the muscles attached to the spine. “Chronic back pain,” however, is a little different and in some cases, much more serious. Chronic back pain is pain that lasts for longer than 12 weeks. A person suffering from chronic back pain might say that their back feels better or worse depending on what time of day it is, but the pain is consistent and always debilitating. This kind of pain often interferes with a person’s ability to work and can even cause people to struggle with simple day-to-day tasks.

Recognizing Chronic Bain Pain and What Causes It

The main symptom of chronic back pain is intense pain in some area of the patient’s back. Other symptoms might include limited mobility; you may find yourself unable to move your body like you were once able to. Even simple tasks that you once never thought twice about, such as getting up out of a chair or out of bed after waking up can be an incredibly painful experience. Lifting even light objects can cause the pain to intensify.

Maybe the patient received a work-related accident or was in a car accident in which their back was injured. It could be that a patient was injured while lifting a piece of furniture too heavy for them to carry. Sometimes patients and their doctors know exactly what the root cause of the back pain was. In a majority of cases, back pain develops on its own over time, without one specific event that injured the person’s back. In fact, a 2014 article in the journal Clinical Radiology notes that in 90% of cases, patients can’t quite place the source of their back pain.

Three Ways Physical Therapy Can Alleviate Back Pain

It’s not a secret that physical therapy is a great way to treat chronic back pain, in fact, there’s a substantial amount of medical literature out there proving just that. Ask yourself if “living with the pain” is really going to work long-term for you. If the answer is “no” then understand that working with a physical therapist is a proven method for improving the symptoms of chronic back pain. Oftentimes, the need for surgery can be alleviated and patients won’t need to depend on prescription painkillers if they follow through on the physical therapist’s recommendations.

Here are three ways physical therapy helps chronic back pain.

  • Passive Physical Therapy: Exercise isn’t all physical therapy is made up of. “Passive” physical therapy involves non-physical treatments which can help relax a patient’s muscles and bring relief from their pain. With back pain, this can involve hot and cold packs applied directly to affected areas, electrical stimulation of the muscle structures, and more.
  • Active Physical Therapy: Your physical therapist has years of training and hands-on experience working with chronic back pain patients just like you. Your physical therapy plan might include specific stretches and exercises. This technique is known as “active” physical therapy. These exercises are great for strengthening the muscle groups that support your back and core. The stretches will be geared toward helping your body regain the flexibility and mobility you have lost as a result of your back pain.
  • Long-Term Support: Physical therapy takes dedication and patience. It takes time to alleviate chronic back pain through stretching and exercise, and it’s easy to get discouraged if you try to do it on your own. Your physical therapist is there to help you by providing emotional and psychological motivation throughout your treatment journey, until your back pain is a thing of the past.

Surgery and painkillers are not the only options you have if you’ve been struggling with chronic back pain. Call Therafit to schedule a no-risk appointment with a physical therapist and begin your journey to a pain-free life.

Don’t Fall Victim to Opioids – Instead, Opt for Natural Relief

Chronic pain can become a huge burden, interfering with just about every aspect of your life until it can seem impossible to feel like things will ever be “normal” again. Whether as a result of wear and tear over time, or following a traumatic experience like an injury or a car accident, chronic pain can become increasingly difficult to cope with as time goes on. Learning to cope with the discomfort isn’t always realistic, and so rather than live in discomfort many people turn to ways to mask the pain—often through the use of pain medications. However, this isn’t always the healthiest option, and finding more appropriate ways to manage your pain that can actually help to reduce the severity of your chronic pain can have a huge impact on your quality of life and happiness.

Instead of turning to medications to manage pain long-term, talk to your physical therapist at TheraFit Physical Therapy & Fitness Center about natural strategies that may help you to experience actual relief from your pain.

The Problem with Pain Medications

Pain medications don’t actually do anything to help heal chronic pain. While often marketed as an ideal solution to experiencing ongoing pain, all that pain medications can do is help you to feel relief from the pain for a short period of time. Once the medication dosage wears off the pain will return, and over time it may even require larger and larger dosages of pain medication to help you experience that same level of relief.

What’s more, many pain medications come with a long list of complications of their own. Many pain medications are opioid-based, which means that they are highly addictive and can cause damage to the body if used for a prolonged period of time. For many people, the withdraw that occurs when they attempt to stop taking opioids is actually more severe than the initial pain itself, and in some situations, the use of pain medications for an extended period of time can lead to an array of additional health issues, including damage to the intestines, liver, and even the heart.

To actually overcome chronic pain and return to a more normal way of life, pain medications cannot be looked at as a sole means of treatment. While pain medications may be recommended for short term use to help you overcome the initial pain of an injury, there are other treatment options available that are much safer and more effective at helping to ease the pain and improve your quality of life.

Natural Strategies for Pain Relief

Working with a physical therapist to experience relief from chronic pain is one of the most effective strategies that you can try. Regardless of whether the pain stems from an injury or from wear and tear over time, physical therapy can identify the problem areas, target the source of the pain, and then provide you with strategies to help improve your range of motion and reduce the experience of pain.

The biggest difference between physical therapy and pain medication for addressing chronic pain is that pain medication will never actually fix the source of the pain, it will only cover it up. Physical therapy may not help you to feel that immediate relief in the same way pain medication would, but it will help you to feel gradual improvements in your experience of the pain so that you can eventually start to live your life free of discomfort.

Here are a few of the ways that your physical therapist can help you find relief from chronic pain:

  • Targeted massage: Your physical therapist can identify the area that may be causing the pain and utilize massage techniques to reduce tension in that particular area, thereby helping to alleviate pressure in your joints and reduce pain.
  • Hot and cold therapy: The combination of hot and cold therapy can help to reduce swelling and alleviate pain, and when used in combination with other natural strategies can be a great source of relief from chronic pain.
  • Deep stretching: Your physical therapist can guide you through specialized stretching techniques that will target the source of your pain, thereby helping to improve your range of motion and support the development of muscle mass in the area of your pain.
  • Weight lifting: As you begin to experience tension relief and decreased swelling in the targeted area, your physical therapist can then guide you through the process of building muscle mass to support a full and healthy recovery.

Physical therapy can often be used to help people overcome chronic pain, including pain the joints, like hip and knee pain, back pain, neck pain, and even chronic headaches. In some situations, such as when there is an injury like a torn tendon or damaged muscle, surgical repair may be necessary to help repair the damage prior to the use of physical therapy to restore range of motion. Working with your physical therapist to utilize these natural strategies that can help you to avoid the long-term use of medication can help you to feel greater relief from pain and experience improved quality of life in the process.

To start experiencing relief from chronic pain, contact TheraFit Physical Therapy & Fitness Center for an appointment today.

Stop Relying On Opioids To Manage Your Pain. Physical Therapy Can Help!

Do you depend on drugs like oxycodone or hydrocodone just to make it through your day without crippling pain? Do you find yourself watching the clock anxiously until it’s time for your next dosage? If you answered yes to either of these questions, it’s possible you’re on the brink of opioid dependence.

You might be wondering how these drugs are affecting your long-term health, and with good reason! Opioid dependence can be a deadly situation.The good news is that you can kick your dependence on opioid drugs without ending up trapped by debilitating pain, thanks to the solutions provided by physical therapy. Contact our physical therapy office today to get started on this healthy, drug-free approach to pain management.

What Are Opioids, And How Do They Work?

Opioids are strong painkillers that are often prescribed to offset the effect of severe chronic pain. Traditionally, they are derived from substances in the poppy plant. Morphine, oxycodone,codeine, and hydrocodone are opioids that can relieve pain where other drugs fail.

It is common for doctors to prescribe these to patients dealing with pain due to cancer, acute injuries, and neurological or musculoskeletal pain. Subsequently, they can also produce feelings of euphoria, which in turn makes them substance that is extremely abused and addictive in both legal and illegal forms(such as heroin).

By attaching to opioid receptors in the brain and other structures of the body, opioids prevent the receptors against receiving pain signals. Simultaneously, the opioids trigger the release of large amounts of dopamine, a substance that gives a feeling of pleasure.

The Danger of Opioid Addiction

Opioids do more harm than good. These drugs are so effective at seemingly “getting rid of” the pain, but unfortunately, the painkilling and pleasurable benefits of opioids come at a terrifying price. The issue is that people become addicted to opioids because of the euphoric highs they experience while using them.

As a result of long-term opioid usage, the body builds up a tolerance to the drugs, and then will require larger doses in order to achieve the same effects. This ultimately leads to a very strong, very dangerous level of addiction.

It’s no surprise that more than 11 million Americans abuse opioids. Sadly, escalating tolerance levels in opioid users can result in them taking a fatal dose. Two-thirds of all overdose deaths in the U.S. are related to some form of opioid.

Physical Therapy Can Kick Opioid Dependency.

Opioid dependence can be avoided. Physical therapy is an excellent and safe alternative to drugs. An experienced physical therapist can prescribe you customized treatment method that will help joints move more freely, loosen tight muscles, reduce inflammation, build up muscle strength, and help decrease the effects of neurological problems (for example, herniated discs and pinched nerves).

Physical therapy might be for you if:

  • You’re having issues with addiction and depression or physical side effects as a result of continued opioid usage (or you want to avoid these issues altogether!)
  • You have a chronic, incurable pain condition that might otherwise you to use opioids for your entire life
  • You have musculoskeletal or neuromuscular pain
  • Treating the underlying cause of the pain, instead of simply numbing it, is your ultimate goal

Even if your pain cannot be depleted entirely through physical therapy, treatment may still ease your symptoms enough so that you don’t have to take the maximum dosage of painkillers any longer. However, please be aware that if you’re currently dependent on opioids, your doctor must supervise any changes in dosage.

Your opioid dependency can stop today. Call our office to set up a time for a consult with one of our physical therapists about drug-free pain management options.

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