Cannabis for Arthritis Pain and Inflammation

Those searching for an alternative treatment often stumble upon medical cannabis.


If you’re one of the estimated 350 million people worldwide that suffer from arthritis, it’s possible you’ve endured a difficult journey in discovering an effective treatment. While there is no shortage of pharmaceuticals developed to relieve both pain and inflammation caused by arthritis, the majority tend to generate unwanted side-effects or fail to directly target the areas of pain altogether.

Those searching for an alternative treatment often stumble upon medical cannabis and the anecdotal evidence claiming it can help with both the pain and inflammation caused by arthritis. While more clinical studies are needed to confirm the effectiveness of cannabis as a medicine to reduce the symptoms of arthritis, some studies have shed light on its potential ability to act as an analgesic and anti-inflammatory medicine.

Both history and today’s anecdotal evidence have shown us that cannabis has the potential to treat pain caused by various diseases and conditions. A study observing this was done in 2009 using animal subjects and found that cannabinoids from the plant can act as antinociceptive agents, meaning they can help block sensory neurons from detecting painful stimuli. A recent survey found that 188 patients out of 2,032 use cannabis specifically for arthritis, while 861 – or 42.4%, use it for another issue causing pain. This survey also found that nearly 60% of the patients admitted to substituting their prescription medication with cannabis, with opiates being the main medication being substituted.

While more clinical studies are needed to understand the effects of cannabis on joint pain, it’s very possible the plant can either offer patients an alternative treatment for their arthritic symptoms or become an addition to their current pharmaceutical regimen.

If the prospect of getting high off the plant seems worrisome, patients can rest assured that there are both cannabis strains and oils bred and crafted with little to no tetrahydrocannabinol in them, which is the main cannabinoid that causes the cerebral high associated with the plant. Cannabidiol or CBD is one of many cannabinoids found in cannabis that’s been discovered to play the biggest role in dulling pain thus far, and it doesn’t affect the brain in the manner THC does.

Products are slowly emerging in the legal cannabis market that advertise their ability to help with arthritis in the form of strains bred for their high CBD content. There are also various oils and topical products that can be rubbed directly on the area experiencing pain. Edibles are growing in popularity as their effects tend to be stronger and last longer. The numerous forms of cannabis now offered by dispensaries allow patients to pick and choose how they wish to medicate themselves using either inhalation, ingestion, or topical absorption.

It’s important to understand that cannabis strains come in various forms, either being sativa, indica, or a hybrid of the two. Indica strains tend to cause more physical effects, including pain relief as reviewers note, more so than sativa strains which have been found to cause increased cerebral effects. However, this information can only be applied when searching for cannabis flower to smoke or vaporize. If searching for an edible or a topical, most products won’t tell you whether they extracted the cannabinoids from indica or sativa plants. Instead, they simply control the ratio of CBD in their product and perhaps a few other cannabinoids including THC.

CBD has also been found to have potential as an anti-inflammatory, which can possibly help arthritis sufferers treating inflammation. Again, cannabis flower or concentrates with lower THC levels and higher CBD ratios can be smoked or vaporized to reduce inflammation. Many dispensaries also offer transdermal products that can be used topically.

If you decide you’d like to add cannabis to your treatment, always speak with your physician or pharmacist first. It’s important to understand whether there’s a chance cannabis can negatively interact with any current medications you’re taking and having professional’s input will assist you in making the best decision.

The next step is to decide how you’d like to use cannabis. If you suffer from chronic pain all over your body, either inhaling or ingesting it will spread the active cannabinoids such as CBD throughout your bloodstream and likely reach all organs and tissues. If you prefer to target localized pain, search for an accommodating topical preparation like a balm.

If you decide on ingesting it through edibles or a decarboxylated concentrate, begin with the lowest dose recommended which is usually 10 milligrams. Be sure wait up to two hours for the effects to kick in before deciding to take any more. A common problem new consumers have is taking too much which leads to adverse side-effects such as paranoia or anxiousness. This in turn can cause the patient to dislike cannabis and never want to try it again when in fact they just didn’t dose it properly.

And finally, if smoking or vaping the plant sound like a feasible means of medicating, give a few different indica and hybrid strains a try before deciding on a single one to help with arthritis pain and inflammation. They tend to affect everyone differently, and while one strain may help one patient perfectly for their symptoms, it may not work well for the next patient because their body chemistry and needs are different.