What is Arthritis?
Arthritis is a disease that involves inflammation of any of the joints in the human body, most commonly including the hip, knee, or spine. Arthritis can impact individuals of any age, gender, or ethnicity, and the most common symptoms are joint pain, stiffness, redness, and swelling. If left untreated, arthritis can lead to joint damage, destruction, and disability. According to the Arthritis Society, arthritis consists of more than 100 different conditions. Next, we will outline the two most common forms of arthritis, Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis.
Osteoarthritis affects more than three million Canadians, making it the most common type of arthritis. Osteoarthritis occurs when protective cartilage found between bones breaks down over time, which causes pain and swelling, resulting in a loss of movement. Osteoarthritis is most common in individuals who are over the age of 65, who are carrying access weight, or who have experienced a previous joint injury. The joints that are most commonly affected include the knee, hip, hands and spine.
Rheumatoid Arthritis affects approximately 300,000 Canadians. This form of inflammatory arthritis occurs when the body’s defense systems attack the tissues of joints, causing inflammation to develop in the lining of joints, which results in joint pain, swelling, damage and deformity. Rheumatoid Arthritis affects women twice as often as men, and is commonly developed between the ages of 40 and 60. The joints that are most likely to be affected are the hands and feet, wrists, elbows, shoulders, knees and ankles. Internal organs can also be affected.
For more information on arthritis, and the various types of arthritis, visit https://arthritis.ca/.
Managing the Symptoms of Arthritis
To date, there is no known cure for arthritis; however, there are many options available to help reduce its impact. Common treatments for arthritis include physical activity and exercise, proper nutrition and healthy eating habits, joint replacement surgery, complementary therapies including acupuncture and meditation, medications, and more.
Medical cannabis has been legal in Canada since 2001, and has become an increasingly popular treatment option for those suffering from a variety of conditions, including arthritis. According to figures from Health Canada, 65% of Canadians who are authorized to purchase medical cannabis are doing so to treat severe arthritis. In particular, cannabidiol oil (CBD oil) is a common cannabis treatment option for those suffering from arthritis to help alleviate symptoms of pain, inflammation and discomfort.
What is CBD Oil?
CBD oil is an extract that is made by mixing cannabis flowers with a solvent such as ethanol, naphtha, petroleum, or butane. The extraction process removes the cannabis plant matter and leaves behind a sticky oily substance that contains a high concentration of active compounds. Once this extract is created, licensed producers typically mix it with an oil, such as coconut oil. This oil is then administered to the patient using an oral syringe or dropper, along with food, or as an edible product. A unique benefit of CBD oil is that it contains no psychoactive ingredients, such as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which are found in dried cannabis and other extracts. The ingestion of CBD oil does not provide the sensation of being “high” or intoxicated.
You can learn more about the benefits associated with using CBD oil in our CBD oil article.
How is CBD Oil Being Used to Help Treat Symptoms of Arthritis?
CBD oil is becoming a commonly used medication for chronic pain management and shows promise as a treatment for arthritis pain, in particular, in its ability to reduce inflammation and pain in the affected joints. Some of the research conducted to date has shown that:
- CBD oil helped reduce inflammatory pain in rats, highlighting that cannabinoid receptors are involved in joint nociception and may be advantageous for the treatment of inflammatory pain.
- A research review published in the European Journal of Neuroscience noted that increasing evidence from preclinical studies supports the therapeutic value of cannabinoids for osteoarthritis management.
- A study published in the European Journal of Pain found that topical CBD application has therapeutic potential for relief of arthritis pain-related inflammation and behaviours.
The positive experiences of Trauma Healing Centers’ patients have been used as antidotal evidence to support the use of CBD oil to help alleviate symptoms of arthritis. Our Medical Director, Dr. Burry, states
Several (of our) patients are functionally impaired by their symptoms of arthritis and it affects their quality of life. Many are waiting months or even years for surgery and taking medications such as anti-inflammatories, which have gastrointestinal and other unpleasant side effects. CBD oil offers a viable alternative for some patients. It is non-impairing and has very few side effects. I have seen several patients who are able to return to the golf course, play with children/grandchildren, etc., essentially “get their lives back” (after they start their CBD medication).
The Requirement for More Research
Unfortunately, there has been a shortage of cannabis research conducted to date. Although CBD oil shows great promise in the treatment of arthritis, more research is needed to understand its full potential. The Arthritis Society has dedicated $720,000 to medical cannabis research between 2015 and 2019 with the goal of providing patients and physicians with better access to credible information to base treatment decisions on.