The pain of arthritis makes it tough for many people to get a good night’s sleep. Worse yet, tossing and turning at night can actually increase the perception of pain.
“There’s a reciprocal relationship between pain and poor sleep. The poorer people sleep, the more pain they tend to be in,” says Kevin Fontaine, PhD, assistant professor of rheumatology at Johns Hopkins University. “If people with arthritis can improve the quality of their sleep, they can usually reduce their day-to-day pain.”
If you're taking a narcotic for arthritis pain, keep in mind that alcohol and drugs containing acetaminophen or Tylenol don't mix. The combination can greatly increase your risk of severe liver damage.
When you take narcotic drugs, you also run the risk of developing a tolerance to the drugs. That means you need more and more of the drugs in order to get the same effect. You also run the risk of becoming dependent or even addicted. In addition, narcotic drugs can cause side effects such as constipation, drowsiness, dry mouth, and difficulty urinating. The drugs methylnaltrexone (Relistor) and naloxegol (Movantik) are approved to treat constipation due to opioid use in those with chronic pain.
How Do Narcotics Relieve Arthritis Pain?
Unlike ibuprofen, Motrin, Aleve, or other NSAID drugs, narcotics do not decrease the inflammation that occurs with arthritis. Narcotic drugs work on pain receptors on nerve cells to relieve pain.
If you have pain that isn't relieved by a narcotic drug or NSAID alone, speak to your doctor about combining the two. In some cases, an NSAID/narcotic combination may relieve pain better than either alone.