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Why Do My Joints Ache During Detox?

Muscle, bone, and joint pain are common symptoms of opioid withdrawal. The purpose of opioids is to stop pain. When you are addicted to opioids, your brain gets used to a new normal. At first, that means a lack of any pain. As you build a tolerance and need higher doses to get the same feeling, your pain perception changes.

When you detox and the drugs leave your system, you are suddenly defenseless against pain. It’s like when you are talking to someone in a noisy place and when it suddenly becomes quiet, you realize you’re shouting. When you detox, the naturally occurring opioids in your brain have been down-regulated and it suddenly feels like your body is shouting at you. Your brain can’t sort normal sensations from pain and so everything feels like pain.

Where you feel the pain depends on the person. Some kind of joint, muscle, or bone pain is common, but some people might feel it more in their bones or muscles, than in their joints. Some people get bad headaches. Sometimes an old injury will suddenly hurt again. Your brain had gradually learned to ignore the pain of the injury, but now that information is fresh again, and it has to relearn to ignore it.

Some people just feel pain in a certain place–knees, hips, shoulders, or wherever–for no apparent reason. It could be they had gradually ached more with normal use and they didn’t notice until the signal was massively amplified. It could be they hurt themselves and didn’t notice because of the opioids.

Whatever the case, joint pain typically goes away eventually. It may take several weeks. During that time, your brain chemistry readjusts to normal levels and you gradually relearn to sort normal sensations from pain. You may also find yourself still feeling whatever pain originally led to opioid use. Part of treatment will be learning to tolerate discomfort as something distinct from pain that could signal danger. Dealing with the pain might require over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen or acetaminophen or physical therapy to strengthen and support the injured area.

If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, Gardens Wellness Center can help. We specialize in detox and getting you started in treatment that works best for you. Call us today at 844-828-1050 or email us at to learn more.