Living with joint pain isn’t fun. It can prevent you from enjoying physical activities with your friends, kids, or grandchildren, cause you to miss work, and even limit your ability to be mobile. The number of people experiencing joint pain in the United States is on the rise, and it’s estimated that by 2040, 78 million adults in the U.S. will be diagnosed with joint pain.
Many are frustrated with the treatment options that are currently available. These include over the counter anti-inflammatory medications or prescription opioids—both of which have numerous serious side effects, including addiction.
CBD products may offer a better alternative to treating chronic pain. Both consumers and researchers are exploring the potential of using CBD for managing joint pain.
Using CBD for Joint Pain: Just the Facts
Joint pain affects millions of American people, and the number is increasing. Unfortunately, current treatments such as pain killers and anti-inflammatory medications are the only option, and they’re only somewhat helpful. Many people report that they are successfully managing their joint pain with CBD products. Also, preliminary research shows positive results for the efficacy of using CBD for joint pain.
Causes of Joint Pain
There are many causes of joint pain, and understanding the root cause of your joint pain allows you and your healthcare provider to select treatment options that address the underlying cause of your pain.
- Rheumatoid arthritis or other autoimmune conditions
- Joint injury
- Thyroid conditions
Conventional Treatments for Joint Pain
The treatment of joint pain depends on the pain’s underlying cause. In most cases, a doctor performs a thorough evaluation, including laboratory testing and a physical exam to identify that cause. After the doctor determines the most likely cause, he or she recommends treatment options.
In arthritis conditions such as joint injury, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and gout, over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen are part of the first-line therapy. Gout and rheumatoid arthritis treatment typically includes additional medications and treatment approaches.
In some cases, treatment plans for arthritis include targeted exercises and physical therapy.
Opioids and Joint Pain Management
Some people are prescribed opioid medications for their joint pain. However, the evidence does not support that they are effective for joint pain when used long term. In addition, opioids have numerous side effects, including an extremely high potential for addiction.
Depression and Fibromyalgia
Both depression and fibromyalgia can cause chronic joint pain. However, the origin of pain in these conditions is different than in conditions like osteoarthritis. These conditions are commonly treated with a combination of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and cognitive behavioral therapy.
Imbalances in thyroid hormone levels sometimes cause joint pain. A doctor can identify imbalances through laboratory testing. The treatment for pain caused by thyroid imbalances is thyroid hormone replacement.
Medical Cannabis and CBD for Joint Pain
Cannabis has been used to treat joint pain for thousands of years. However, people did not have any understanding of how or why it helps manage pain.
Today, there are numerous reports of people using medical cannabis and CBD for their joint pain. Cannabis has been illegal in most of the United States until recently. Therefore, clinical trials on cannabis and CBD use for medical conditions is just beginning, including how effective CBD is for joint pain.
Medical Cannabis vs CBD
Medical marijuana comes from the marijuana plant, whereas CBD is derived from the industrial hemp plant. Both medical marijuana and CBD products contain cannabinoids. However, unlike the marijuana plant, the industrial hemp plant has very low levels of the psychoactive tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). CBD products themselves contain only trace amounts of THC—or no THC at all. Therefore using CBD products will not cause you to feel “high” like medical cannabis will.
How CBD May Help Manage Joint Pain
People are using CBD for their joint pain due to the cannabinoids CBD products contain. Cannabinoids relieve pain through the endocannabinoid system. CBD products are available in both topical CBD gel and creams, as well as in oral supplements such as gummies and CBD oil.
What is the Endocannabinoid System?
The endocannabinoid system is part of our nervous system. We are still discovering all of its actions in the body. However, we have good evidence of its effect on pain and inflammation. The cannabinoids that are found in CBD products stimulate cannabinoid receptors (cb1 receptors and cb2 receptors) within this system. When cb2 receptors are stimulated, there is a decrease in pain perception as well as inflammation.
Both pain and inflammation are two of the main concerns in joint pain, especially in osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and gout. And research shows that the endocannabinoid system is involved in arthritis. Therefore, it is reasonable to assume that it’s possible to successfully use CBD for joint pain relief.
What the Research Says about Using CBD for Joint Pain Relief
To date, there have been a few animal and human studies that have had positive results for using CBD for joint pain relief.
There was a recent study on managing joint pain with a whole-cannabis sativa plant supplement, Sativex. The study found that this product provided significant and long-lasting joint pain relief in rheumatoid arthritis. In addition, there were improvements in pain on movement, and pain at rest, as well as quality of sleep. This study suggests that CBD is helpful in managing joint pain. Keep in mind, the product in this study contained THC in addition to cannabinoids, which may have impacted the results.
Animal studies have found that oral CBD products are effective at managing arthritis pain in mice with rheumatoid arthritis. Furthermore, CBD products do not have the side effects of other pain medications.
Another animal study showed that topical application of CBD gel is effective at providing pain relief for arthritis. This rat study also found that CBD gel reduced the amount of inflammation in the joint.
A Summary of What the Research Says
Currently, there is promising scientific evidence in favor of using CBD for managing joint pain.
Human studies found that a whole-plant cannabis sativa product reduced several aspects of pain in rheumatoid arthritis.
Final Thoughts on Using CBD for Joint Pain Relief
If you are one of the millions of Americans who suffer from joint pain, you may be interested in managing your joint pain with CBD products. It is always recommended that you always speak with your physician first, to understand that cause of your joint pain and if CBD can be helpful for you.
It should be noted that CBD products are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA ) in the United States. Always purchase CBD products that are third-party tested to ensure both the quality and safety of any CBD products you use.