Joint pain, or arthritis, is any kind of inflammation, pain, or discomfort from any joint within the body. It can also be from any part of the joint, including the tendons, muscles, ligaments, bone, and cartilage.
The pain itself can be varying in degrees; for some it can be mild while for other people it can be excruciating, resulting in limited movement even with basic everyday activities such as walking, bathing, or dressing up. There are many causes of joint pain, ranging from certain conditions such as fibromyalgia, bone cancer, or gout, though other times it can come with age, weight gain, gender, or caused by a sprain.
There are more than 54 million people in the United States alone that suffer from joint pain. There are also over 100 different kinds of arthritis pain, yet pain is a central feature for all of them. Despite that, many arthritis conditions don’t look and act similarly. Current treatment available ranges, and is recommended by doctors depending on factors such as the pain levels, the kind of joint pain or arthritis, and the overall health of the patient. The primary goal of treating it is to enable patients to manage their pain, increase strength, and joint mobility.
Pharmaceutical medications may be recommended for treatment, with or without exercise, the use of heat or cold, but in extreme cases surgery may be needed. In some cases, occupational therapy may also work.
However, despite all these, many patients still struggle with dealing with joint pain.
That’s why so many people have been turning to cannabis.
How Cannabis Helps
There are numerous studies proving that the two primary compounds of cannabis, cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) are extremely helpful for treating joint pain. Aside from the many anecdotal reports that it does work better than many drugs, opioids included, the studies are there to prove it. More importantly, the studies available show that cannabis products are safe and well-tolerated by humans.
A Gallup poll, whose results were released in August 2019, showed that around 14% of Americans said that they use CBD products for a range of health reasons, though the number one cause is pain. Additionally, a poll conducted by the Arthritis Foundation revealed that 29% of people use CBD, and out of those respondents, a majority of them reported that they saw significant improvement in well-being, physical symptoms of pain, and sleep.
In fact, you probably already know someone who is using cannabis for pain. And why not? There are no side effects and it’s not addictive, unlike opiates. One of the biggest medical reviews to study cannabis and pain indicated that there is “substantial evidence that cannabis is an effective treatment for chronic pain in adults.”
While CBD has become more popular as the primary choice for pain, especially among patients who don’t want to get high, there’s also THC for those who don’t mind. “THC activates certain cannabinoid receptors, one of which is in the nerve cells and the other is in the immune cells. When it activates the one in the nerve cells, it reduces the sensation of pain,” explains Steve Alexander, a University of Nottingham Medical School associate professor.
“A little bit of euphoria can help us not care that we’re experiencing quite as much pain, much in the same way that other pain medications work,” adds Angela D. Bryan, a neuroscience and psychology professor at the University of Colorado Boulder.
Depending on the kind of joint pain you have, you can explore different ways of medicating cannabis. For example, studies show that CBD is ideal for treating inflammatory pain, which is common among those suffering from injuries or arthritis. Scientists believe that CBD works in many ways to reduce inflammation, one of these ways is by blocking the inflammatory markers. Other studies show that CBD increases the work of glycine receptors which are responsible for regulating pain and as a result, reduce neuropathic pain.
On the other hand, studies show that THC is good for neuropathic and central pain, or pain caused by cancer, fibromyalgia, AIDS, and other similar conditions. THC also contains powerful anti-inflammatory properties so they target the problem at its very root.
There is no one-size fits-all solution when it comes to cannabis for joint pain; it’s recommended to speak to a doctor who has experience working with cannabis. They would be the best resource to recommend products or strains that can be of the best help for your specific joint pain condition.
Types Of Cannabis Products To Try For Joint Pain
Topical: Balms and lotions infused with cannabinoids are helpful in treating joint pain. They provide localized pain relief since they are applied directly on the affected area. Some products are also made with additional ingredients such as camphor, menthol, or capsaicin, which further help to alleviate joint pain.
Inhalation: Many studies have revealed that when it comes to treating pain, inhalation is the most effective way to do so. You can inhale cannabis products through a joint or using a vape pen. Just be sure to purchase your product from a reputable manufacturer to avoid the risk of consuming unknown chemicals.
Oral: Consuming cannabis, whether it’s THC or CBD, in oral form can provide therapeutic benefits to joint pain in slower onset compared to topical or inhalation, but relief will last for a much longer time. You can also make use of cannabis drops placed under the tongue, or using a tincture or spray for a quicker onset through oral administration.
What’s your favorite way to medicate for joint pain?