Arthritis is a common yet often debilitating disease. For people who have arthritis, cannabis may offer an effective solution for chronic pain management. As medical cannabis and CBD become mainstream, more and more patients are discovering how these alternative treatments can help with their arthritis. In some cases, cannabis may even be more effective than traditional prescription drugs.
According to a 2019 study of arthritis patients, over 50% reported trying cannabis for pain management. Among that number, 97% of the participants who used medicinal cannabis said their symptoms improved, while 93% of participants who used CBD products also reported significant improvement. This data suggests that cannabis offers many benefits for arthritis.
As with any medical condition, arthritis patients should always consult their doctor before beginning a new treatment or changing their existing treatment plan. However, patients may consider discussing cannabis with their healthcare provider to find relief from chronic pain and other arthritis symptoms. Medical cannabis and CBD may be able to offer new pain management solutions.
Let’s take a closer look at the benefits of cannabis for arthritis.
What Is Arthritis?
Although most of us probably know someone with arthritis, this chronic condition is often misunderstood. Did you know that there are over 100 different types of arthritis? Arthritis is an inflammation of the joints, but each type of arthritis has different symptoms and treatments.
The two most common types of arthritis are osteoarthritis (OA), which usually begins later in life and progresses slowly, and rheumatoid arthritis (RA), which can occur at any age and is often more severe. OA is typically caused by age, injury, or infection, while the causes of RA are unknown but believed to be genetic.
In both of these common types of arthritis, patients may experience joint pain, stiffness, and aches. RA patients may also experience swelling, fatigue, anemia, and other symptoms caused by severe inflammation.
For some people living with arthritis, it’s common to experience “flare-ups” where symptoms suddenly become more intense than usual. These flare-ups can be debilitating, impacting the patient’s ability to work and live their normal life.
How Cannabis Can Offer Benefits
Anecdotally, people have been using cannabis for pain management for centuries. With the advent of legalization and mainstream medicinal use, many doctors and patients understand firsthand how this powerful plant helps with pain.
For arthritis, cannabis offers benefits for pain management as well as other symptoms. As with any lifelong condition, the physical pain is only one aspect of living with arthritis. Incorporating cannabis into an arthritis treatment plan may help patients improve their quality of life overall.
Beyond pain relief, cannabis offers benefits for arthritis, including:
During a flare-up, arthritis patients may experience insomnia or trouble sleeping because of joint pain. Using cannabis can help them fall asleep faster and sleep more deeply.
Stress Management and Moods
Living with arthritis can be stressful. Chronic pain can increase the body’s production of cortisol, a hormone associated with stress, and the physical limitations associated with arthritis can also lead to emotional distress. Those living with arthritis may also feel depressed because they can’t engage in the same work activities, sports, or hobbies that they once loved.
Thankfully, medicinal cannabis can improve a user’s emotional state. One of the pleasant “side effects” of cannabis is a relaxed state of euphoria, which helps many patients cope with anxiety issues. This can help arthritis patients’ moods.
With RA in particular, patients may experience nausea and loss of appetite. This can be a result of the inflammation itself, as well as common medications used to treat it.
Cannabis is well known for increasing appetite in chemotherapy patients and other individuals whose appetite has been negatively impacted by medical conditions. Patients who use cannabis also report less nausea.
Talk to Your Doctor About Cannabis for Arthritis
If you have arthritis and live in a state where cannabis is legal for medicinal use, it may be time to talk to your doctor about the benefits of cannabis for arthritis. An open, honest conversation with your primary care physician can help you assess your needs, and your doctor can make a proper referral to a cannabis dispensary.
As with any medical condition treated by cannabis there are multiple factors to consider. Arthritis patients should consider dosage, products and delivery methods, and research the best strains for pain management. For example, some patients may find better results using a cannabis strain that’s higher in CBD. Make sure you only buy cannabis from a state-licensed dispensary. This ensures you’ll be getting a high-quality product. Plus, the dispensary’s employees can help answer your questions and recommend the best products for your condition.