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CBD Oil for Arthritis and Chronic Pain

CBD Oil for Arthritis and Chronic Pain

Arthritis is the leading cause of disability in the United States, but everyone's experience with it is unique. We tend to think of arthritis as a single disease affecting different parts of the body, but there are over 100 forms of arthritis and other rheumatic diseases. And although we use the term "arthritis" as a catchall for various rheumatic, or inflammatory issues and other musculoskeletal diseases, it denotes joint inflammation specifically. It can mean rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, or numerous other forms. Regardless of the form of chronic pain, however, many people have started using CBD (cannabidiol) products as a component of their treatment, and promising results are being seen in studies.

Arthritis Rheumatoid Osteoarthritis Hand

The Facts About Rheumatic Diseases and Chronic Pain

Chronic pain is a widespread problem, and although some forms may have higher or lower prevalence rates among different groups of people, the entire spectrum of rheumatic diseases affects a wide swath of Americans.

The ubiquity and impact of rheumatic diseases can't be overstated:

  • 54 million Americans have been diagnosed with arthritis or another rheumatic disease.
  • 100 million suffer Americans suffer from chronic pain.
  • The most common types of rheumatic diseases are osteoarthritis, gout, fibromyalgia, and rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Over 43.5 percent of adults with arthritis (23.7 million) report physical limitations caused by the disease.
  • The medical cost of arthritis is $140 billion per year; $303.5 billion when lost wages are factored in.
  • The medical cost of all chronic pain in the U.S. ranges from $560 billion to $635 billion yearly, factoring in lost wages.
  • Almost two-thirds of adults with arthritis in the U.S. are of working age, 18-64 years old.

Arthritis Rheumatoid Osteoarthritis

Treating Rheumatic Diseases and Chronic Pain

Arthritis treatments are as varied as forms of rheumatic diseases. Its most common form, osteoarthritis, is a degenerative disease caused by long-term stress and abrasion on joints. Meanwhile, another common form, rheumatoid arthritis, is an autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks its own cells, causing inflammation that damages cartilage, bone, and ligaments. It's unsurprising, then, that treatments would vary, especially as there is no cure for most forms of arthritis. Doctors rely on early diagnosis and an aggressive treatment plan to manage the form a person has been diagnosed with.

Some components of treatment may include:

  • NSAIDs, or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
  • Analgesics, or pain relievers.
  • Corticosteroids, steroids that relieve inflammation.
  • Joint surgery.
  • Weight loss and dietary changes.
  • Heat and cold therapies.
  • Massage.
  • Physical or occupational therapy.
  • TENS, transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation.
  • Natural supplements.

CBD Topical Joint and Muscle Pain Relief Cream

CBD Oil and Rheumatic Diseases

We've written about CBD and its range of potential health benefits before. CBD, or cannabidiol, that is legal for use is derived from the hemp plant, which has very low amounts of THC, the principal psychoactive component of cannabis from which a high is derived. THC binds to the CB1 and CB2 receptors, the former mostly found in the central nervous system, and the latter in our immune systems. CBD, however, blocks these receptors.

Blocking the CB2 receptor most heavily present in the immune system suppresses the immune response. This may seem counterintuitive, but inflammation is caused by the immune system directing a response when there's no disease to respond to. When these responses are frequent or long-lasting, cells can become damaged; this is the basis of the autoimmune side of rheumatic diseases, like rheumatoid arthritis. Studies have yielded promising evidence that cannabidoids like CBD may reduce the quantity of immune system cells that provide response, and increase the quantity of regulatory immune cells.

CBD Cannabidiol Capsules 750 mg (25 mg Per Capsule) 30/Bottle

CBD Oil and Chronic Pain

Even beyond rheumatic diseases like arthritis, there's indications that CBD oil may be effective for more confounding types of chronic pain. Treating chronic pain is notoriously difficult, as often no clear cause is evident. Many cases of chronic pain are neuropathic, related to damage or disease to the sensory nervous system, and involve dysesthesia, pain prompted by abnormal sources. And many analgesic medications prescribed for severe pain involve strongly adverse side effects, as well as potential dependence and addition. This is a major factor at the root of the current opioid epidemic.

Aside from the effects CBD may have in reducing inflammation, studies suggest that it may also be able to alleviate pain. There is evidence that CBD binds to glycine receptors, which exist in the central nervous system and help to regulate immune response, and increases their activation rate. This slows the the kind of response that sends pain signals to your brain. These studies also suggest that CBD doesn't create a tolerance as a pain reliever, which means that it doesn't create the kind of dependence that opioids do. The side effects of CBD are also mild, largely being limited to changes in weight or appetite, and tiredness.

CBD Oil Sublingual

How to Use CBD Oil for Pain and Inflammation

Cannabidiol still demands more testing in areas of pain management, but studies have been encouraging, for the reasons outlined above. And importantly, it's easy and safe to incorporate CBD products into a treatment plan, due to their mild side effects. You'll still want to consult a medical professional, however, in order to ensure you're not taking any drugs that may interact with CBD.

There are two forms of taking CBD that are useful for inflammation and chronic pain: topical CBD and oral CBD.

Topical CBD: Cannabidiol can permeate the skin, so applying it to a sore area or especially one that's inflamed will allow the CBD to act directly where it's needed. This will not only help the CBD take effect more quickly and in a more focused way, but also can be a great introduction to CBD for new users. Topical CBD products like creams exist for muscle and joint pain, and are the form of CBD most suited to use for inflammation. For instances of rheumatic diseases like arthritis, topical CBD creams are a promising option.

Oral CBD: There are actually two methods of taking CBD orally, either sublingual consumption or ingestion. Sublingual consumption involves the CBD product, usually an oil, being held under your tongue, where it passes directly into the bloodstream through the mucous membranes. Ingestion involves swallowing a CBD supplement or food infused with CBD, which enter the bloodstream after a longer period, first being metabolized by the liver. Oral consumption of both forms allows for the CBD to interact with receptors throughout the body, including in the central nervous system. This makes oral CBD products a potential addition to treatment not just for rheumatic diseases, but for neuropathic pain and other forms of chronic pain.

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