Is CBD Effective for Joint Pain?

cbd for joint pain
UPDATED DECEMBER 29th, 2018

Joint pain by definition is pain, discomfort or inflammation in and around the joints. Most commonly we refer to this as arthritis or arthralgia. Joint pain can be mild to severe which can make movement difficult and sometimes cause limitations. There is an array of causes which include:

  1. Adult Still’s disease
  2. ankylosing spondylitis
  3. avascular necrosis
  4. bone cancer
  5. broken bone
  6. bursitis
  7. complex regional pain syndrome 
  8. dislocation
  9. fibromyalgia
  10. gonococcal arthritis
  11. gout 
  12. hypothyroidism 
  13. juvenile idiopathic arthritis 
  14. leukemia
  15. lupus
  16. Lyme disease
  17. osteoarthritis 
  18. osteomyelitis 
  19. Paget’s disease of bone
  20. polymyalgia rheumatica
  21. pseudogout
  22. psoriatic arthritis
  23. reactive arthritis
  24. rheumatic fever
  25. rheumatoid arthritis 
  26. rickets
  27. sarcoidosis 
  28. septic arthritis
  29. sprains
  30. tendinitis

The most common treatments for joint pain are over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen (Advil, Mortin IB, others), naproxen sodium (Aleve), and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs known as NSAIDs. Even those these medications are sold over-the-counter, people can build up a tolerance to them which requires taking more to get the same effect. High doses of pain medications, as well as long-term use, can also lead to kidney problems, fluid retention, digestive issues, stomach ulcers, and high blood pressure.

CBD’s Effect on Joint Pain

The Departments of Pharmacology and Anaesthesia published a study in 2017 which explored the capabilities of CBD on pain and nerve damage in rats. The goal of the study was to determine if CBD is anti-nociceptive (pain-relieving) in osteoarthritis and if CBD could prevent the development of osteoarthritis pain and joint nephropathy. On the 14th day of the study, joint afferent mechanosensitivity was assessed and pain behavior was measured. Joint inflammation, blood flow, and leukocyte trafficking were all measured. The results suggest CBD decreased joint afferent firing rate, increased withdrawal threshold and weight bearing, reduced joint inflammation and prevented the development of MIA-induced joint pain. Essentially, CBD blocked osteoarthritis pain and nerve damage.

These findings also suggest that CBD may be a safer, more useful therapeutic treatment for joint pain. Unlike pain medications that are commonly prescribed to patients experiencing joint pain, CBD does more than just treat the pain itself. These findings suggest CBD to be a better option because it helps prevent nerve damage that is associated with arthritis and joint pain.

Topical CBD

CBD also comes in a topical form which can be administered directly in the area where someone is experiencing joint pain. The Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences published a study done in 2016 that focused on the use of topical CBD on arthritis. The focus was to support an alternative way to administer pain-relieving treatment without side-effects attributable to active compounds as well as the route of administration (orally). Oral administration of pain medications exposes the gastrointestinal organs to the compounds of the drug and also first must be metabolized before the patient gains any benefits.

The study examined the reduction of inflammation and pain on the area topical CBD was applied. Topical CBD was applied for 4 consecutive days after arthritis induction and the joint swelling in those areas significantly reduced. Limb posture scores and rating of pain was also found to go back to base level. The results indicate that topical CBD application has therapeutic potential for arthritis pain-related behaviors and inflammation without any evident side-effects.