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Pain, Joint Deterioration and Addiction

Pain, Joint Deterioration and AddictionPain due to joint deterioration is common as people age. Overweight individuals are also more prone to joint pain. Many factors can combine to produce joint deterioration, including the following:

  • Heredity
  • Normal wear and tear on joints
  • Wear and tear related to repetitive motions (people who engage in racquet sports are especially prone to this)
  • Damage to joints due to injury
  • Development of arthritis

There are 127 different types of arthritis, but by far the most common form is osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis is caused by mechanical forces acting on joints over time and usually involves primarily weight bearing joints, such as the knees, hips and spine. Another common form of arthritis is rheumatoid arthritis, which, unlike osteoarthritis, is a degenerative disease.

Regardless of the type of arthritis, the condition causes inflammation around the joints and deterioration of cartilage that serves as padding between the bones. The good news is that in some cases cartilage deterioration may be reversible. The bad news is that in cases of rheumatoid arthritis the damage is irreversible and will almost surely get worse.

How Is Joint Pain Treated?

The goals of treatment for joint pain due to arthritis are relieving pain, reducing inflammation, stopping or reversing joint damage and improving joint function.

Arthritis may be caused in part by muscular inflexibility. Stretching exercises, such as Active Isolated Stretching, can increase muscular flexibility and be very beneficial to anyone with joint pain.

Anti-inflammatory drugs, such as cortisone, are used to reduce swelling and inflammation, and in some cases, a doctor may use a disease modifying drug, such as methotrexate or a tumor necrosis factor (TNF) inhibiting drug, such as Enbrel, Remicade, Humira or Orencia.

Finally, orthopedic surgery may be used in some cases to improve joint function.

Are Medications for Joint Pain Addictive?

Medications used to treat arthritis do not address pain the way that pain medications do. Opioid pain medications used to treat pain due to injury or surgery inhibit the perception of pain in the mind. In these cases, the physical damage will be present regardless, and the only way to relieve the associated pain is to allow the patient not to notice it as much.

Arthritis medications, in contrast, address the cause of the pain, which is inflammation around the joints. They have the practical result of relieving pain because the condition causing the pain is actually improved. They do not act upon the brain the way that opioids do, and they will not lead to addiction.

Addiction may be a concern if a doctor prescribes opioid pain medication or a sedative to aid in sleep in addition to standard arthritis medications.

The biggest danger of addiction due to pain associated with joint deterioration is in cases of people who self-medicate their pain with painkillers rather than seeking medical treatment for arthritis or any other condition that is causing joint deterioration and resultant pain. People experiencing pain from joint deterioration may be tempted to use hydrocodone or other painkillers in the medicine cabinet that are left over from a previous surgery. Opioids will relieve joint pain temporarily, but the condition will not improve, and the person may very quickly become dependent on the drug to avoid the reoccurrence of pain.

Treatment for Painkiller Addiction

If you have become addicted to painkillers as a result of joint pain, call our toll-free, 24-hour helpline. We can help you find treatment resources to overcome your addiction.

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