Using Medical Cannabis to Treat Arthritis & Arthritic Pain

Julia Granowicz
Julia Granowicz - Content Writer

Apr 16 2021 - 3 min read

Arthritis is a condition that affects millions around the world. In the United States alone, 32.5 million adults suffer from osteoarthritis, while an additional 1.3 million Americans are suffering from rheumatoid arthritis (RA). As one of the leading causes of chronic pain – one of the most common conditions for which medical marijuana is recommended – it shouldn’t be a surprise that cannabis can help manage arthritis and arthritic pain.

Commonly, physicians and specialists will suggest you start off taking over-the-counter medications like Tylenol or Aleve. But when those are no longer providing the relief you need to get through the day, many doctors are too quick to move you up to stronger NSAIDs or even stronger opioids like Vicodin, Percocet, and Oxycodone. Instead, more and more people are considering a natural alternative with medical marijuana.

fibromyalgia pain cannabis

Understanding How Medical Marijuana Can Treat Arthritis and Arthritic Pain

Before you can rely on medical marijuana to treat your arthritis pain, you need to be sure to understand how it can help you. This means knowing what type of arthritis you are trying to treat, so you can fully understand what cannabis is doing to reduce your pain.

Not only can medical marijuana provide relief for the physical pain that comes with arthritis, but it can also provide relief to the mental symptoms that often follow. Most people who have arthritis will go through periods of depression, anxiety, and insomnia, all of which are also increasingly being treated with medical marijuana over prescription pharmaceuticals.

Overall, cannabis has virtually no risk and has the potential to replace numerous medications that you could be on because of arthritis.

Cannabis for Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is the most common chronic pain condition, especially in older adults and seniors. This is simply because it comes on over the years due to normal wear and tear on the body. Sure, exercising and keeping yourself in shape can reduce this as you age but some aches and pains as we age are hardly avoidable all together.

Usually, osteoarthritis comes as the cartilage between your joints begins to wear down and it can affect any joint though it commonly affects the hands, knees, hips, and spine. The focus of treating osteoarthritis starts with reducing inflammation to reduce the pain.

Cannabis for Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is a bit different as it can affect anyone regardless of age and it isn’t brought on by wear on the joints over time, but rather is an autoimmune disease that causes inflammation and degeneration of the joints. Women are more likely to suffer from rheumatoid arthritis. It often affects the same joints but if left untreated joints can become fused and other organs may also become damaged because of the disease.

Like osteoarthritis, RA is treated first with NSAIDs and steroids with the focus being on reducing the inflammation to reduce the pain associated with the condition. Though the inflammation has a different cause (the body’s immune system attacking its own joints), cannabis can provide the same relief.

Drawing of a normal joint, one with osteoarthritis and one with rheumatoid arthritis.
A normal joint, and ones with osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis. Image from SMART-Servier Medical Art. part of Laboratoires Servier. CC BY-SA 3.0.

Using THC to Treat Arthritis

Many people who use cannabis to treat arthritis prefer to use strains that are stronger in tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). This is because THC not only has anti-inflammatory properties, but it also has analgesic (painkilling) properties that helps to reduce the pain.

For the most immediate relief, most people who use THC to treat arthritis will use a topical applied directly to the sore joint, or they would smoke flower or vape concentrates. Those who can wait for the effects to kick in and are hoping for longer lasting relief could try edibles.

Using CBD Oil to Treat Arthritis

Like THC but without the psychoactive component, cannabidiol oil (CBD oil) is also often used to treat arthritis. Studies have found that CBD also offers anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects, all without the worry of the “brain fog,” “munchies,” or anything else that might follow THC.

Along with reducing the pain associated with arthritis, CBD is also likely to help improve sleep, reduce feelings of anxiety and depression all while reducing overall inflammation.

If You Have Arthritis, Leafwell Makes Getting Your MMJ Card Easier

Prescription medications for arthritis can be dangerous not only from the side effects but for the likelihood of becoming dependent or addicted. This has led many to search for alternatives, like medical marijuana.

If you or a loved one is suffering from arthritis and are considering trying medical marijuana you’ve come to the right place. Leafwell is prepared to help walk you through the process step-by-step to get qualified to use medical marijuana in your state.

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Written by
Julia Granowicz
Julia Granowicz

Julia Granowicz-Johnson is a freelance writer from Florida with a passion for the cannabis industry. Since 2015 she's covered legalization news and educated medical marijuana patients, caregivers and their families through her work.

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