For years, doctors treated arthritis patients this way…
First, they would recommend aspirin, ibuprofen or another NSAID medication to ease the pain.
If that didn’t work, they would prescribe something stronger. If the patient had knee or hip arthritis, the choice was often an opioid drug.
Addiction? That wasn’t seen as a problem because doctors believed patients truly in pain did not become addicted.
This, of course, turned out to be bunk. Arthritis patients by the thousands ended up dependent on opioids.
The opioid addiction epidemic now sweeping the U.S. may be the deadliest medical crisis the country has ever faced.
Lest you think this is an exaggeration…
In 2017 alone, there were more deaths from opioid overdoses in the U.S. than American deaths from the Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq wars combined.
The U.S., with less than 5% of the world’s population, consumes 80% of the world prescription opioids.
Now, a new study shows that not only do opioids lead to addiction, they aren’t even very good at helping patients deal with arthritis pain.
Researchers from Boston’s Tufts Medical Center analyzed 23 clinical trials. These involved 11,400 osteoarthritis patients. They found that opioids do provide mild pain relief…at first. But their effectiveness quickly diminishes.
The data showed that the painkillers don’t improve patients’ quality of life. And they don’t help with the depression that often accompanies chronic pain.
Dr. Raveendhara Bannuru was the lead researcher. He said that opioids’ effects on arthritis pain are “small and continue to decrease over time.”
They typically stop providing pain relief after two to 12 weeks, he said. And when patients increase the dose, side effects such as nausea, constipation, and diarrhea become more pronounced.
Dr. Steven Eyanson is a rheumatologist. He said that the take-home message is that “opioids have limited benefit” for arthritis patients…and have “significant potential for risk.”
5 Natural Arthritis Solutions
Giving opioids to someone who is sick is like throwing a drowning man an anchor… They don’t relieve pain over the long term and they often lead to addiction and death.
If you have joint pain, try these natural remedies …
- A low-carb diet. Research shows cutting your carbohydrate intake reduces arthritis pain.
Low-carb eating is simple. Follow these guidelines:
Don’t eat sugar and starchy foods like bread, pasta, rice, beans, and potatoes.
Do eat meat, fish, eggs, non-starchy vegetables, and natural fats like olive oil and butter. Fruits that are high in fiber and low in sugar are OK. They include berries, avocados, grapefruit, kiwis, pears, and watermelon. But avoid fruit juices. They are typically high in sugar.
- Fish oil. A British study found that the essential fatty acids in fish oil reduce joint inflammation. This lessens pain. The researchers recommend 1 1/2 grams of fish oil a day.
- Vitamin K. Research shows that foods rich in vitamin K help prevent osteoarthritis and control pain from it. The nutrient promotes bone growth and repair.
Good sources of vitamin K include green leafy vegetables such as collards, leafy lettuce, kale, mustard greens, parsley, romaine lettuce, and spinach.
You can also get vitamin K through supplements. But don’t take them if you are on the prescription blood thinner warfarin (Coumadin). Vitamin K can decrease its effectiveness.
- Willow bark. It not only treats osteoarthritis, it can also relieve headache, back pain, menstrual cramps, fever, flu, and tendonitis. Take 1-3 grams.
- Exercise. For decades, doctors warned arthritis sufferers to rest their aching joints. But in recent years, multiple studies have found that exercise reduces pain and improves joint movement.
Yoga, Pilates, and gentle stretching all work well to ease arthritis pain. Low impact exercise like walking, swimming, and cycling are also good alternatives. Resistance training increases the support muscles give to joints.
Doctors have wised up and no longer routinely prescribe opioids for arthritis. But that’s little solace to the many Americans whose lives have already been ruined.
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