How cannabis helps alleviate different types of arthritis

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With over one hundred different types of arthritic disorders, many patients turn to cannabis after exhausting all other treatment methods which do little to alleviate symptoms.(Photo by Jonathan Wiggs/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

One of the most widespread conditions that cannabis is prescribed for is arthritis and in its many forms.

With over one hundred different types of arthritic disorders, many patients turn to cannabis after exhausting all other treatment methods which do little to alleviate symptoms.

How cannabis helps alleviate the different types of arthritis is complicated, but here at Puff Puff Post, we will simplify the process.

What is arthritis?

Arthritis is a medical condition that causes inflammation of the joints which results in joint pain, stiffness, swelling, and decreased range of motion (ROM), among other symptoms.

The condition may be debilitating for some patients. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that more than one-third of adults who have arthritis find the disorder limiting to their leisure activities and work, thereby reducing their quality of life.

With the prevalence of this disorder, it is no shock that osteoarthritis (OA) is the number one cause of disability in America. It can result from daily wear and tear (degeneration) or trauma/injury.

Another common type of arthritis is rheumatoid arthritis (RA), which is more of an autoimmune disease where the body’s immune system attacks its own tissues. Yet another form of arthritis is fibromyalgia (FM), a condition where pain sensation is amplified for a variety of reasons. Patients also report pain from degenerative disc disease (DDD) in the spinal column.

arthritis - How cannabis helps alleviate different types of arthritis
Image shows the physiological changes of two types of arthritic bone from a normal bone. (Image via steptohealth.com)

Onset can be from hours to weeks to months depending on the type of arthritis a patient has. The main location of the inflammation can be near weight-bearing joints like hands, hips, knees, and ankles. RA can show elevated erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR), anemia, c-reactive protein (CRP), and rheumatoid factor in the blood.

There are no proper treatments for arthritic pain. Maintenance consists of opioids and narcotics, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) like Advil or naproxen, physical therapy, and surgical interference.

Enter cannabis for arthritis

Even with all of these treatment options, patients suffering from the various forms of arthritis report little to no pain relief and usually turn to cannabis as a last resort. Countless patients have found the relief they lacked in cannabidiol (CBD) specifically.

CBD locks onto CB1 and CB2 receptors in the body, activating the TRPV-1 receptor which plays a role in the mediation of body temperature, pain perception, and inflammation. It also activates adenosine receptors which gives the anti-anxiety and anti-inflammatory effects of cannabidiol.

CBD blocks the psychoactive effects of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), reducing the “high” felt in association with it. Since THC also has some pain management properties, physicians recommend taking CBD in conjunction with THC for maximum treatment management on a case by case basis.

Patients who have used cannabis to treat their pain usually go from ambulating with canes and walkers to strutting without those aids in a matter of months.

The most interesting aspect of using CBD oil is that it can be applied topically to a localized area where some patients report pain relief. However, this does not work on all patients as the effects should be studied and examined further for treatment options.

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