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Joints for Joint Pain: Can MMJ Help?

joints for joint pain

There are almost 60 million Americans living with Arthritis and osteoarthritis, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). That is 24% of all adults living in the United States. This includes other diagnoses like gout, lupus, and rheumatoid Arthritis.

While many may think that Arthritis is a condition that develops in senior years, the CDC states that more than half, or 57.3%, of diagnoses are between the ages of 18 to 64 years. Arthritis is more likely to appear in later years, but an estimated 8 in 100,000 people aged 18-34 years develop the condition.

The annual costs for medical care combined with lost earnings due to work disability from Arthritis are estimated at over $300 billion per year. Arthritis can cause swelling, stiffness, and pain in numerous joints, including knees, hips, fingers, and the spine.

Chronic pain is one of the top reasons why patients get a medical cannabis card. And many patients with Arthritis or joint pain experience persistent inflammation and painful symptoms. Can medical cannabis help as part of a pain management strategy for patients?

What Causes Joint Pain?

A variety of different triggers can cause joint pain. For some people, an injury such as a car accident or fall may damage their joints. And lead to painful, ongoing symptoms. For other people, Arthritis and other joint problems can show up at any time without a known cause.

For many people, Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) starts between 30 and 60. When the condition develops in children and young adults (16-40), it is called young-onset rheumatoid Arthritis (YORA).

Causes of Osteoarthritis

An injury can cause osteoarthritis, but many diagnoses are due to overuse or repetitive stress on one or more joints. As we age, the cartilage between our bones (which insulates the bone against friction) can wear down as we age. And sometimes, it can disappear entirely, which means bone-on-bone contact in major joints.

Joint Pain Caused by Gout

When your kidneys do not filter out enough uric acid, it can build up in your blood. From there, the excess uric acid can crystalize around bone joints in your body. The uric crystals are very sharp (like glass) and create moderate to severe joint pain.

Chronic Pain from Lupus

More research is needed to understand what triggers the development of lupus. What doctors do know is that it is one of the very complex autoimmune disorders where the body’s immune system attacks tissues and organs. And consequently, tissues like cartilage can be compromised, causing joint pain.

One of the symptoms of Lupus is joint inflammation. That includes sore and stiff joints, which can appear warm to the touch and swollen due to the inflammation. Patients with lupus tend to develop arthritis symptoms in the extremities, such as fingers, wrists, knees, ankles, and toes.

Ankylosing Spondylitis

It is estimated that less than 300,000 patients in the United States have Ankylosing Spondylitis or about 1% of the adult population. It is a rare disease that causes bones in the spine to connect and grow together. This can create painful inflammation in the joints, including the shoulder area, hip, ribs, fingers, and toes.

Some studies suggest that Arthritis (and similar conditions) can also be caused by heredity. That may be due, however, to a genetic predisposition to thin layers of cartilage between joints. The risk of developing Arthritis or joint pain, if you had an immediate blood relative (parent or sibling) diagnosed is 0.8% compared to people with no family history, who have a 0.5% risk.

joint pain

Common Treatments for Joint Pain

Whether you are coping with non-arthritic joint pain or another condition that causes inflammation of the joints, there are many things you can try to reduce pain. And some therapies can even help reduce painful joint movement and help restore the range of motion.

When joint pain persists, there are some at-home treatments you can try to help ease pain, including:

  • Cold therapy.
  • Heat therapy (heating pad).
  • Over-the-counter arthritic pain medication.
  • Prescription pain medication.
  • Elevation of the sore joint.
  • Rest (if joint pain lasts a long time).
  • Corticosteroid medicine or injections.
  • Hot wax (immersion of feet or hands in warm wax).

Even with a combination of different holistic or over-the-counter therapies, many patients struggle to manage joint pain. According to the CDC, about 1 in 4 American adults have reported severe joint pain that is related to Arthritis or a similar joint pain condition. And about half, or 50%, of those individuals, have persistent daily pain.

marijuana for joint pain

Can Medical Marijuana Make Joint Pain Worse?

One study back in 2009 stated that cannabinoids have the potential to make transient joint and back pain worse over time. The study “Active Ingredients In Marijuana Found To Spread And Prolong Pain” was conducted by the University of Texas Medical.

Often you will see reviews of different medical marijuana strains on websites like Weedmaps or Leafly. Some patients have commented that medical cannabis helped improve joint pain. While others claim it was not effective.

If medical marijuana does not help reduce your pain during waking hours, it may help you sleep. Some strains of Indica dominant cannabis can provide both an analgesic (pain-reducing) effect and a mild sedative. If you wake up often due to arthritic or joint pain symptoms, medical cannabis may help you get more sleep.

Remember to always see your health care provider’s advice before starting any new treatment, including the use of medical cannabis to help relieve joint pain. If you are experiencing swelling, tenderness, warmth, pain, or symptoms of joint abnormality, talk to your doctor about your symptoms.

What About CBD for Joint Pain?

However, there are many more studies that suggest cannabidiol (CBD) may help patients with Arthritis and joint pain. Cannabidiol can be used by patients with Arthritis in multiple ways to provide relief from painful joints.

Some of the products used by patients with Arthritis include:

  • CBD capsules or gummies.
  • Topical creams and ointments.
  • Roll-on CBD products to help relieve pain.
  • CBD sleep formulations (to promote fewer pain-related disruptions to sleep).
  • Cannabidiol (CBD) bath salts (for soaking unexplained joint pain).
  • Inhalable cannabidiol vape or hemp flower (smokable).
  • Transdermal patches for localized relief.

One of the benefits of cannabidiol instead of pain medications is that it is safer, with a lower risk of becoming habit-forming, compared to opioids or NSAIDs. Unlike prescription medications, CBD has not been shown to cause withdrawal.

There are some prescription medications that are contraindicated (in conflict) with cannabidiol. Before you start using any kind of CBD supplements, get a medication review from your physician. And let them know what kind of CBD supplements you plan to use (including the potency of it). It’s the best way to protect yourself from any adverse side effects.


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