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Joint diseases such as osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and arthritis cause various symptoms ranging from joint stiffness to inflammation and severe pain. There is no curative treatment or medicine for these diseases yet, but luckily there are some ways to alleviate the symptoms. In this article, we will get to know the two most common joint diseases and find out if CBD helps with their symptoms.
Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, what is the difference?
Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are similar, but differ based on the root cause. Osteoarthritis is caused by e.g. from hard work, aging, injury and heredity, while rheumatoid arthritis is a purely inflammatory disease. In both, the joints are symptomatic, causing pain and various side symptoms.
Osteoarthritis is the world’s most common joint disease and is largely caused by strain and injuries to the joints. The actual cause of osteoarthritis is unknown, but the symptoms are caused by cartilage breaking down faster than repair. (1)
Osteoarthritis occurs most often in the knee, hip, fingers and back. On the back side, osteoarthritis can occur in the joints between the vertebrae. As a result of osteoarthritis, some kind of changes can occur in the bones, joint bursa and joint cartilage.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammatory rheumatic disease, the causes of which are largely in heredity, unilateral movement and lifestyle. Less than one percent of Finns suffer from it, and it can break out at any stage of life. Rheumatoid arthritis is usually diagnosed in older people, over 65 years old, but sometimes it also occurs in children. According to statistics, rheumatoid arthritis is more common in women than in men, as only one third of rheumatoid arthritis diagnoses are given to men. (2) Rheumatoid arthritis is most commonly found in the joints of the fingers.
The symptoms of osteoarthritis are excruciating pain in the joints and joint stiffness, especially in the morning. The pain worsens with exertion and subsides with rest, but advanced osteoarthritis also causes pain at night, which may contribute to the development of sleep difficulties (1). with CBD oil according to studies, it has effects that improve sleep quality and balance the sleep cycle. Read more about the effect of CBD insomnia. In addition, CBD has pain-relieving properties .
The first symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis are manifested as morning stiffness in the small joints of the body in the fingers and toes. The symptoms are usually symmetrical on both sides of the body. Common side symptoms are e.g. weight loss, fatigue, pains and fever which are partly caused by the body’s inflammatory reaction. (2)
Treatment and prevention
Osteoarthritis cannot be cured, but in general the condition of the joints can be taken care of preventively, e.g. by adding good quality collagen to the diet and avoiding exercise that causes strong shocks, but doing it regularly. Also, preventing the accumulation of excess weight may affect the development of osteoarthritis. (1)
Osteoarthritis is treated at home, e.g. by losing excess weight and using cold therapy. It is a good idea to see a doctor at the latest when the painkiller no longer helps, despite the fact that there is no cure or treatment available. Osteoarthritis is mainly treated with painkillers, but a TENS device that gives electrical impulses is also used for pain relief. (1)
Rheumatoid arthritis is treated with anti-inflammatory drugs, and the goal of the treatment is remission, i.e. a state where the disease does not progress. In Finland, rheumatoid arthritis is treated with a combination of traditional anti-rheumatic drugs and glucocorticoids, and usually at least 75% of patients achieve remission relatively soon after starting treatment. (2)
Rheumatoid arthritis may be impossible to prevent, but its onset can be prevented by taking care of the joints through diet and light exercise. Avoiding smoking may also help!
The cannabinoid system
The endocannabinoid system monitors all processes in the body and regulates them as needed towards balance. The background of most diseases is some kind of disturbance in the functioning of this system. The endocannabinoid system is also involved in joint function.
The endocannabinoid system includes the endogenous cannabinoids, i.e. the endocannabinoids anandamide and 2-AG , their corresponding receptors CB1 and CB2, and the molecules that break down these elements.
Both cannabinoids and their receptors are present in the joints. In diseases affecting the joints, it has been noticed that the CB2 receptor in particular is abundant, but both endocannabinoids and both receptors have been detected in increased amounts compared to healthy joints. (3)
In the joints, endocannabinoids seem to target newly damaged joints the most, although they are also present in healthy, well-functioning joints, including those suffering from joint diseases.
CBD to help?
Those who practice Chinese medicine have already said thousands of years ago that hemp eliminates rheumatism. The claim as such is hardly true, but it is known that one of the most significant effects of cannabinoids is the reduction of inflammatory markers in the body.
CBD for tissue damage caused by osteoarthritis does not necessarily help, but side symptoms such as pain, sleep difficulties and stiffness may be affected. CBD has been studied and used successfully e.g. For stiffness caused by MS , various pains and challenges related to sleep. (3,4)
As rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammatory disease, its symptoms and the course of the disease with CBD oil may have effects. CBD has been studied to reduce inflammation in the body, and this effect is likely to be seen in the increased CB2 receptor levels in the joints of the rheumatism patient, which have risen both through the activation of CBD and the endocannabinoid system itself. (3,4)
A study conducted in Canada as an anonymous survey of joint disease sufferers clearly stated that CBD had a positive effect on various symptoms. Pain was reduced by 86%, functional ability improved by 66% and sleep-related challenges eased by 66% of those who responded to the survey. Several of the respondents also reported that the need for medication decreased or even stopped completely after starting to use CBD. (4)
The American organization focused on joint diseases, the Arthritis foundation, has collected statistical information not only on joint diseases, but also on the treatment of joint diseases with CBD. To the English site can be found here .
CBD for pet joints?
CBD oil also suitable for supporting animal care. The use of CBD oil related to the well-being of the joints is one of the most common ways to use CBD oil in animals, and according to user experiences and research, it has a positive effect. Improvements in mobility and general condition have been observed in dogs suffering from joint diseases In connection with the use of CBD . (5)
Joint diseases are usually incurable and unfortunately common. The condition of the joints can be influenced by following healthy lifestyles, but they are not necessarily a guarantee that these diseases may not break out during life. The endocannabinoid system is also involved in joint function, and its parts have their own roles in the background of joint-related well-being. CBD oil may be particularly helpful for the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, but it may also have an effect on the side symptoms caused by both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, such as stiffness and factors that disturb sleep.
- Pohjolainen T.. 2019. Duodecim health library. Osteoarthritis (arthrosis). https://www.terveyskirjasto.fi/dlk00673. Referenced 1/18/2023.
- Julkunen H.. 2022. Duodecim health library. Rheumatoid arthritis. https://www.terveyskirjasto.fi/dlk00051. Referenced 1/18/2023
- Barrie N and Manolis N.. 2017. The endocannabinoid system in pain and inflammation: Its relevance to rheumatic disease. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/?term=Manolios %20N% 5BAuthor%5D. Referenced 1/18/2023
- Frane N., Stapleton E., Iturriaga C., Ganz M., Rasquinha V. and Duarte R.. 2022. Cannabidiol as a treatment for arthritis and joint pain: an exploratory cross-sectional study. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/?term=Ganz %20M% 5BAuthor%5D. Referenced 1/18/2023.
- Ellevate science. 2018. Cisio’s PR newswire. https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/cornell-university-college-of-veterinary-medicine-presents-first-pharmacokinetics-study-on-cannabinoids-for-dogs-300592667.html. Referenced 1/18/2023
- Arthritis foundation. http://blog.arthritis.org/news/patients-tell-us-cbd-use/. Referenced 1/18/2023