CBD is a potent anti-inflammatory and can decrease joint pain in patients with arthritis and other conditions that cause joint inflammation.
Dr. Bonni Goldstein is a medical adviser to Weedmaps.com, author of Cannabis Revealed, and Medical Director of Canna-Centers in California. She says CBD can help reduce inflammatory discomfort. “CBD is a potent anti-inflammatory and can decrease joint pain in patients with arthritis and other conditions that cause joint inflammation. Patients often report better mobility and an ability to decrease the use of NSAIDs with CBD use.
People use CBD Oil and CBD creams and salves to ease joint pain. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
“I’ve been prescribing medical cannabis to patients in my pain practice, hundreds of them, for about 10 years,” Williams says.
Another study, published in the journal Pain, focused on CBD pain prevention in relation to rat osteoarthritis. Upon studying osteoarthritis in rats, it was found that CBD blocked joint pain in a dose-dependent manner. In addition, prophylactic CBD administration prevented the future development of nerve damage and associated pain in the arthritic joints. The researchers concluded that CBD may be a safe treatment option in mammals, targeting pain while blocking the inflammatory responses that drive disease progression.
In animal studies, CBD has been shown to reduce inflammation and relieve joint pain without inducing significant side effects. However, human studies are limited, and the results are mixed. More comprehensive studies are required.
Currently, treatment typically consists of drug therapy, including the use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and weak opioids. Non-pharmacologic treatment plans include cognitive behavioral therapy, stress management, and patient education in self-management programs.
If you have chronic arthritis pain, you may be wondering about cannabidiol (CBD) as a treatment. CBD, along with delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and other chemicals, is found in marijuana. But unlike THC, CBD is not “psychoactive” — that is, it does not cause the intoxication or high associated with marijuana use.
While there are laboratory studies suggesting CBD might be a promising approach, and animal studies showing anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving effects, well-designed studies demonstrating compelling evidence that CBD is safe and effective for chronic arthritis pain in humans do not exist. A randomized trial of topical CBD for osteoarthritis of the knee has been published, but in abstract form only (meaning it’s a preliminary report that summarizes the trial and has not been thoroughly vetted yet); the trial lasted only 12 weeks, and results were mixed at best. One of the largest reviews examined the health effects of cannabis and CBD, and concluded that there is “substantial evidence that cannabis is an effective treatment for chronic pain in adults.” But there was no specific conclusion regarding CBD, presumably because definitive studies were not available.
A word about arthritis pain
If you’re interested in CBD treatment for chronic arthritis pain or if you’re already taking it, review the pros, cons, and latest news with your healthcare providers, and together you can decide on a reasonable treatment plan. Depending on the type of arthritis you have, it may be quite important to continue your conventional, prescribed medications even if you pursue additional relief with CBD products.
It’s worth emphasizing that there are more than 100 types of arthritis, and while pain is a cardinal feature of all of them, these conditions do not all act alike. And what works for one may not work for another. Treatment is aimed at reducing pain and stiffness and maintaining function for all types of arthritis. But for certain conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis, conventional prescription medications are highly recommended, because these drugs help prevent permanent joint damage and worsening disability.