Around 54 million adults and 300,000 children in the US are diagnosed with arthritis. Several others remain undiagnosed and are succumbing to joint pain in silence. Arthritis is a common problem that causes pain, joint stiffness, and limited movements, thereby causing overall distress. There are available treatments, but recently CBD oil for arthritis has been making noise all over the internet. But, does it really treat arthritis pain?
What is Arthritis?
Arthritis is inflammation of one or more joints. There are over 100 identified types of arthritis, but the three most common types are osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and gouty arthritis. Other not so common types include psoriatic arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, reactive arthritis, septic arthritis, and Lyme arthritis.
Together, all the types bring arthritis to the top spot of the most common chronic illness in the US. The Arthritis Foundation (AF) suggests that there are about 91.2 million cases of arthritis in the US, including those that are not diagnosed by a doctor. And to make things worse, this number is estimated to increase by 49% by the year 2040.
Signs and Symptoms of Arthritis
Depending on the type of arthritis, the common signs and symptoms may include:
- Joint pain
- Joint stiffness
- Decreased range of motion
Three Common Types of Arthritis
Like what we’ve said earlier, there are over a hundred types of arthritis, but the three most common types are osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and gouty arthritis.
This is the most common type of arthritis. It affects more than 30 million people in the US alone. Osteoarthritis is a degenerative disease that develops as a result of repeated “wear and tear” or repeated injury of the joints.
Doing activities that put too much stress and tension on the joints (such as lifting heavy weights and playing sports) can lead to osteoarthritis. Putting too much weight on the joints can also lead to osteoarthritis, like in the case of obese and overweight individuals. Other risk factors include age, sex (women, especially those who are 50 years old and above), obesity, and genetics.
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease, which means that the body’s immune system attacks the lining of the joint capsule causing pain and inflammation in the body, particularly in the joints.
- Gouty Arthritis
This type of arthritis only attacks one joint at a time (usually the big toe), and it is common in men. It is caused by hyperuricemia or too much uric acid in the blood. The increased level of uric acid can lead to the formation of uric acid crystals in the body, including the joints. Once these crystals accumulate around the joint, they can cause severe pain and inflammation.
Traditional Treatments for Arthritis
Treatment for arthritis primarily aims to reduce pain, minimize swelling in the joints, and improve or maintain the quality of life. The combination of medications, physical therapy, regular medical check-ups, healthy diet, and lifestyle modifications are important aspects of the treatment for arthritis.
Medications depend on the type of arthritis, but the commonly used drugs are – analgesics, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), corticosteroids, immunosuppressants, colchicine, and allopurinol (for gout).
These treatment options provide pain relief and manage the symptoms of arthritis, but a lot of people just want to try a more natural pain relief option. And this is where CBD oil comes in the limelight.
How Does CBD Work?
The human body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS) has two cannabinoid receptors: CB1 and CB2. The ECS plays an important role in maintaining balance within the body. It is believed to regulate several body functions including pain and inflammation, which are two common problems of people with arthritis.
Most of the CB1 receptors are found in the brain, and they are associated with cognitive functions such as mood, memory, appetite, thinking, and coordination. CB2 receptors, on the other hand, are found in the immune system. Hence, the CB2 receptors are more responsible for the body’s response to pain and inflammation.
THC or tetrahydrocannabinol, the psychoactive cannabinoid, attaches to CB1, which is why taking marijuana affects an individual on a cognitive level. On the other hand, CBD affects the CB2 receptors, thereby helping to reduce pain and inflammation, which are part of the body’s immune response.
How to Take CBD Oil for Arthritis?
CBD oil can be taken as a tincture, where you will place a drop of the oil under your tongue and keep it there for 30 seconds before swallowing. It can also be ingested in the form of edibles or capsules and applied on top of the skin or affected area in the form of lotion or ointment. CBD oil can also be consumed via inhalation, but it is not advised since it can be harmful to the lungs. CBD cream may sometimes cause allergy, so it’s important to test it on a small area of the skin first.
Several studies believe that cannabidiol (CBD) may be a safe and useful treatment for pain and inflammation, but to date, there is still a lack of evidence to conclude that it is an effective treatment for arthritis in humans.
A 2006 study found out that Sativex, a cannabis-based mouth spray, helps to relieve arthritis pain. However, it is not currently approved for use in the United States.
According to Dr. Faye Rim, a psychiatrist and pain management specialist at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City, some of her arthritis patients have found relief with the use of CBD. However, she pointed out that CBD oil is only intended for use as an adjunct to medications, not as a first-line treatment.
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