Cannabidiol (CBD) has gained a lot of popularity online for the treatment of a variety of different long-term health conditions. Anecdotal as well as research evidence points to its efficacy for chronic pain control.
While the studies to date are limited, the potential for CBD as a safe alternative to pain and inflammation control, has caused a lot of chatter online.
Here we look at the possible role of CBD in helping to relieve arthritic pain and the different ways it can be administered including through CBD Oils, Capsules, Lotions and even CBD Hand creams.
What is Arthritis?
Arthritis is a general medical term that covers a range of conditions, mainly concerning health issues where there is inflammation of the joints. There are approximately 100 different types of arthritis and each has different causes and treatments.
Arthritis is a chronic condition which means that it persists over a long period. While the symptoms appear over time and generally affect older people, they can also start suddenly and impact much younger individuals. According to the NHS, there are around 15,000 children who have some form of chronic arthritis.
One of the most common forms is osteoarthritis which affects the joints of the hips, knees, hands and feet, mainly in those over the age of 60. There are thought to be some 8.5 million people in the UK alone that suffer joint pain that is attributed to osteoarthritis and the main cause is wear and tear over the years.
Other conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis are caused because of an autoimmune disorder where the body’s immune system attacks the body.
What are the main symptoms?
The leading symptom of arthritis is a pain in the joints which also leads to stiffness or loss of mobility. For example, someone may find it difficult in lifting their shoulder without some pain and might only have limited mobility. Arthritis that affects the hips makes it difficult for someone to walk without pain or some assistance.
- The pain can also increase because of cold weather, poor diet and habits such as drinking alcohol or smoking.
- There can be inflammation around the joints in many cases, especially the fingers and toes, which can be visible and can worsen as the condition progresses.
- Because of pain in the joints, there can be additional symptoms such as muscle wasting and weakness, through lack of normal use.
- Those suffering from chronic pain may also have to contend with mental health issues, such as depression.
What are the known alternative therapies for Arthritis?
There are no cures for arthritis though medication can help with the chronic pain and reducing inflammation in some cases. Joint replacement can also be a suitable treatment, usually for areas such as the hip, though this is normally a last resort. If an individual is overweight then dieting and losing a few pounds can put less pressure on the joints.
It’s no surprise that many people who suffer from chronic arthritis, look to alternative therapies to help manage their condition:
- Acupuncture: With thousands of years of Traditional Chinese Medicine behind it, acupuncture has become mainstream in Western society and is even recommended by many GPs across the UK. It’s thought to work by stimulating the release of pain-relieving endorphins in the brain.
- Massage: Gentle manipulation can ease pain and release tension in muscles close to the joints. In some cases, it can also improve range of motion.
- Exercise: Certain exercises such as T’ai Chi and yoga, which are relatively low impact and performed slowly, have been shown to improve mobility for those suffering from chronic joint problems.
- Physical therapy with a qualified health professional such as a chiropractor can also improve movement and lower pain, especially in the earlier stages of the
How can CBD help?
CBD is a more recent addition to the alternative approaches which may, and often does, have beneficial effects for people with arthritis.
The Arthritis Foundation in the USA surveyed 2,600 people who suffered from a joint condition and found that many showed significant interest in CBD as a way to reduce pain.
Much of the evidence for the use of CBD as a treatment for arthritis pain is anecdotal and more research needs to be done in this area. The research that has been carried out does, however, seem very promising.
- A double blind study in Australia involving 320 patients found that those who received the CBD experienced pain reduction in a little over three weeks.
- A study on animals by the University of Kentucky suggests that CBD can reduce inflammation and decrease pain.
- A review in 2008 found that CBD could not only reduce difficult to treat pain, but also help promote better sleep.
How CBD works is still being researched. It’s currently thought it has something to do with the Endocannabinoid system in our brains – essentially our own, natural pain management mechanism. Over time CBD seems to help reduce inflammation and pain but one key factor that has got everyone interested is that it can do this without much in the way of side effects.
Many of the traditional medicines and tablets that individuals get prescribed today have side-effects ranging from stomach problems, weakened immune systems and to nausea and tolerance build-up.
How should you take CBD for Arthritis?
There are a couple of ways to take CBD and there are a range of different products on the market today. The most common way of taking CBD is via a softgel or via an oil by putting drops under the tongue.
There are also lotions and creams containing CBD which can be applied directly and massaged into the joint area to provide relief. Often doing both is the most successful.
Should I try CBD for my arthritis?
While it should not be used as an alternative to disease-modifying treatment that has been prescribed by your GP, alternative pain and inflammation relieving approaches such as CBD could well have benefits that help you manage your symptoms more effectively.
If you are taking other medications prescribed by your doctor, whether for arthritis or something else, it’s best to talk through using CBD beforehand.
If you have relatively low levels of joint pain and this is new to you, CBD could be a safe solution before you visit your doctor to get a full diagnosis. Of course, like many alternative products on the market today, it’s a good idea to buy your CBD from a reputable company.