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Updated on January 27, 2024

CBD for Joint Pain

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Key takeaways

  • Joint pain affects nearly 1 billion people globally.
  • The analgesic or pain-relieving roles of CBD have been extensively reported by several researchers.
  • CBD was discovered from research to assist with joint pain by reducing inflammation, promoting muscle relaxation and promoting sleep.
  • CBD have been shown by different researchers to reduce several kinds of pain including arthritis.

The role of CBD and the endocannabinoid system (ECS) in managing pain have been extensively discussed by several researchers. Some of these research findings are discussed in this article.

Overview of joint pain

Joint pain refers to discomfort, aching, or soreness in the joints—the areas where two or more bones meet. It is a prevalent condition affecting nearly 1 billion people globally. Joint pain can affect various parts of the body, including the knees, hips, shoulders, and hands. It can acute, lasting a short time, or chronic, persisting for weeks, months, or even years. Here's an overview of joint pain:

What are the Causes of joint pain?

  1. Arthritis: Various forms of arthritis, such as osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, can lead to joint pain. These conditions involve inflammation of the joints, causing discomfort and stiffness.
  2. Injuries: Injuries, such as sprains, strains, or fractures, can result in joint pain. Damage to the ligaments, tendons, or bones surrounding the joint may lead to discomfort.
  3. Overuse: Repetitive motions or overuse of a joint, common in certain occupations or activities, can contribute to joint pain.
  4. Inflammation: Inflammation in the joints due to an autoimmune response or other underlying medical conditions can cause pain.
  5. Infection: Joint infections, although less common, can result in pain and swelling in the affected joint.

Symptoms of joint pain

  1. Pain: The primary symptom is discomfort or pain in one or more joints. The intensity and type of pain can vary, from a dull ache to a sharp, stabbing sensation.
  2. Swelling: Swelling or inflammation in the joint can accompany pain.
  3. Stiffness: Joint stiffness, particularly after periods of inactivity or in the morning, is a common symptom.
  4. Redness and Warmth: Inflamed joints may appear red and feel warm to the touch.

What does research say about CBD for joint pain?

CBD have been widely researched for its analgesic or pain-relieving effects. Its role in different levels of pain including cancer, neuropathic, and arthritic pain have been well documented.

A study testing CBD cream for osteoarthritis and psoriatic arthritis showed that it didn't work better than a fake treatment. Some smaller studies and surveys hint that CBD might help with arthritis pain, but the evidence is not very strong.

A scientific review paper published in 2017 which reported the health effects of cannabis and CBD said there's good proof that cannabis can help with ongoing pain in adults. However, when it comes to CBD specifically for arthritis pain, there isn't a clear answer because solid studies haven't been done yet.

Another cross-sectional study published in 2022 also reported the analgesic effects of CBD in different types of pain. The researchers discovered that after using CBD, patients experienced a 44% decrease in pain, which is a significant improvement. Among the different types of arthritis, those with osteoarthritis saw a bigger drop in pain percentage and points compared to those with rheumatoid arthritis or other autoimmune forms of arthritis.

People who are dealing with different types of pain have reported improvements in their symptoms. A Randomized Controlled Trial in 2022 Involving the use of Topical Cannabidiol for the Treatment of Thumb Basal Joint Arthritis showed that when people were treated with cannabidiol (CBD), they felt better than before the treatment. The improvement was seen in various ways that the patients themselves reported, like reduced pain (measured with the Visual Analog Scale), better arm and shoulder function (measured with Disabilities of the Arm, Shoulder, and Hand), and overall assessment of their condition (measured with Single Assessment Numeric Evaluation scores).

Additionally, the physical abilities of the patients, such as their range of motion, grip, and pinch strength, also showed improvements with CBD treatment compared to those who didn't receive the treatment (the control group) during the study. This suggests that CBD had positive effects on both how the patients felt and their physical abilities.

How may CBD help people with joint pain?

  1. Anti-Inflammatory Properties: Our bodies naturally respond with inflammation when something goes wrong, like an injury or infection. This inflammation is a helpful process for healing, but sometimes it can be too much, causing pain. CBD can interact with special receptors in our body known as the Endocannabinoid receptors or ECS receptor to calm this inflammation. It doesn't do it directly but influences our body's natural systems.
  2. Pain Relief: CBD interacts with the endocannabinoid system, which plays a role in regulating pain perception. Some studies suggest that CBD may have analgesic (pain-relieving) properties, potentially offering relief for individuals with joint pain.
  3. Muscle Relaxation: CBD may have muscle-relaxant properties, which could be helpful for individuals experiencing joint pain related to muscle tension or spasms. By promoting muscle relaxation, CBD may contribute to reduced discomfort.
  4. Improved Sleep: Joint pain often interferes with sleep. CBD has been studied for its potential to improve sleep quality, and better sleep can contribute to overall well-being and pain management.

Frequently asked Questions

Does CBD really help joints?

Yes, CBD interacts with the endocannabinoid receptors (ECS) to reduce inflammation, and relax the muscles. This helps to keep the joints healthy with no pain.

Is CBD better than ibuprofen?

The effectiveness of CBD compared to ibuprofen depends on various factors, including the specific context, the type of pain or condition, and individual preferences.
Ibuprofen, a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), is known for its ability to reduce inflammation and block pain signals. It is commonly used for conditions involving inflammation, such as arthritis or muscle injuries. However, prolonged use of NSAIDs like ibuprofen can have potential risks, including gastrointestinal issues and an increased risk of cardiovascular events. On the other hand, CBD interacts with the endocannabinoid system and has anti-inflammatory properties. While it has shown promise in managing various types of pain, including chronic pain and inflammatory conditions, the evidence is still evolving, and individual responses can vary.
In terms of side effects, ibuprofen may cause stomach irritation, ulcers, and an elevated risk of cardiovascular events. Prolonged use may lead to kidney issues. CBD, on the other hand, is generally well-tolerated, with fewer reported side effects, although some individuals may experience mild effects such as fatigue, changes in appetite, or diarrhea.
When considering long-term use, ibuprofen poses potential risks, especially for the gastrointestinal system and cardiovascular health. The long-term effects of CBD are still under study, and while it appears well-tolerated, more research is needed to understand its safety profile over extended periods.

How long does a CBD joint take to work?

Depending on the dosage it takes between 5 to 30 minutes for the effect of CBD to kick in.

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Heineman, J. T., Forster, G. L., Stephens, K. L., Cottler, P. S., Timko, M. P., & DeGeorge, B. R. (2022). A Randomized Controlled Trial of Topical Cannabidiol for the Treatment of Thumb Basal Joint Arthritis. The Journal of Hand Surgery, 47(7), 611-620.

Boehnke, K.F., Häuser, W. & Fitzcharles, MA. Cannabidiol (CBD) in Rheumatic Diseases (Musculoskeletal Pain). Curr Rheumatol Rep 24, 238–246 (2022).

Frane N, Stapleton E, Iturriaga C, Ganz M, Rasquinha V, Duarte R. Cannabidiol as a treatment for arthritis and joint pain: an exploratory cross-sectional study. J Cannabis Res. 2022 Aug 24;4(1):47. doi: 10.1186/s42238-022-00154-9. PMID: 35999581; PMCID: PMC9400326.

Lowin, T., Tingting, R., Zurmahr, J., Classen, T., Schneider, M., & Pongratz, G. (2020). Cannabidiol (CBD): A killer for inflammatory rheumatoid arthritis synovial fibroblasts. Cell Death & Disease, 11(8), 1-11.

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