How Can Marijuana's Pain-Relieving Benefits Help People With Arthritis?

How Can Marijuana's Pain-Relieving Benefits Help People With Arthritis?
How Can Marijuana's Pain-Relieving Benefits Help People With Arthritis?

More than 3 million people will be diagnosed with arthritis in the United States in 2019 alone, and an estimated 54 million are already living with the disease, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Inflammation in the joints leads to pain, reduced range of motion, and stiffness in arthritic individuals, most of whom are older than 65. Prescription pain medication, over-the-counter pain relievers, and joint replacement surgeries are among the most common treatments for arthritis. 

Frustrated with the side effects of their medications and wary of surgery, some arthritis sufferers are turning to cannabis to soothe their joint discomfort. Could medical marijuana be a viable treatment option for arthritis? 

Research Overview 

Research has been steadily building with regard to medical marijuana for arthritis, and many studies have indicated that cannabis may be beneficial in treating the joint pain and inflammation linked to the disease. 

The Studies

Concerning generalized joint pain, a 2017 study published in Clinical and Experimental Rheumatologydetermined that “the preclinical and human data that do exist indicate that the use of cannabis should be taken seriously as a potential treatment of joint pain.” But does this potential treatment extend to arthritis in particular?

The answer is yes, according to a 2018 study published in Current Opinion in Pharmacology. Researchers found that cannabinoids had the potential to treat pain associated with osteoarthritis, the most prevalent form of arthritis that causes degeneration of cartilage and bones. Also noted in the study was the fact that the body's endocannabinoid system (ECS) had the ability to combat joint-related pain.  

An earlier study on animals published in 2015 in the European Journal of Pain found that CBD decreased inflammation and pain in rodents.