Question: What is an opioid and how is it used to treat pain resulting from rheumatoid arthritis?
Answer: Rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammatory disease. And it can affect many different joints. Patients can suffer tremendously because there is deterioration of the joint itself. The pain can get to a level where the person cannot function at all. So what you do is to try to control the disorder but also you have to try to control the pain.
You can start with drugs like anti-inflammatories that can be very helpful, but if the pain doesn't respond to that strategy you can move into opioids. Opioids are derivatives of opium that have been utilized for thousands of years now. And they can be extremely helpful if they are used in the right context. You have to work with your doctor, you have to start with doses of opioids that are low and then if the pain is not well controlled and you don't have side effects, you can move on to other opioids that can be more potent and are more helpful at that particular time.
Something that is very important however that I want to make sure that you understand the principles of opioid management is that you have to work with your doctor because there are potential side effects with these medications that can hurt you. If you do it under the right supervision then the risk is minimized.