CANNABIS AND ARTHRITIS – DOES IT REALLY WORK?
You’ve just been diagnosed with an inflammatory form of arthritis – rheumatoid arthritis (RA), psoriatic arthritis (PsA), ankylosing spondylitis (AS), juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) or lupus. You’re in pain, you’re tired and you’re scared. And now you are confused by what your doctor is telling you to do. The treatment plan seems complicated and the drug names unfamiliar.
Don’t let your fear and confusion stop you from taking action. Treating your inflammatory arthritis as soon as you find out you have it is vitally important. Not only do you want to relieve your pain and fatigue as soon as possible, but you want to stop joint and organ damage before it really gets started.
The articles will help you understand your medicine options and help you make decisions with your doctor about your treatment plan. The articles here will give you the basic information you need and will then link you off to more detailed articles in other sections of the site. After you’ve read up on your diagnosis and your treatment options, have a good talk with your doctor about your treatment plan. Talk openly about your expectations, concerns and fears.
In the United States, about one in ten people live with some form of arthritis. Its damage to these 30 million sufferers makes this disease the number one cause of disability.
Those who think the treatment of arthritis, especially the rheumatoid variety, with cannabis is new age medicine should think again. As far back as 2,000 B.C., four thousand years ago, the Chinese called cannabis a treatment that “undoes rheumatism.”
During the 19th century, cannabis tinctures were common on pharmacy shelves throughout North America and administered as a pain killer (aspirin didn’t become common until the early part of the 20th century).
Medications for Arthritis
Whether you have osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, or one of the nearly 100 other forms of arthritis and related diseases, you have plenty of medicines available to help. They can ease symptoms, slow the disease down and help you live a full and busy life. Some arthritis-related diseases — such as gout, fibromyalgia and osteoporosis — have medicines just for those diseases and are covered in our Drug Guide.
Here is a breakdown to help you sort out what is best for you. Click here to see more options.
Benefits and Risks of Arthritis Medicines
There is no cure for rheumatoid arthritis (RA), psoriatic arthritis (PsA), ankylosing spondylitis (AS) or other inflammatory diseases, but there are treatments. An ever-increasing collection of drugs, used alone or together, have made low disease activity or remission possible.
The goal is to treat these diseases aggressively right after diagnosis to prevent joint and organ damage before it starts. Along with medicines that slow or stop the disease, you may take medicines to ease your pain and other symptoms. You and your doctor will have to weigh the risks and benefits of each drug before you decide to take it. Here’s a snapshot of the medicines your doctor will most likely prescribe for you or that you’ll buy over the counter. Click here to see full list.
Managing Arthritis is More Than Treating Pain
All you can think about is being able to walk, bend and reach without joint pain. While that directly impacts your daily life, managing your arthritis is about more than just pain relief.
“Pain relief certainly shows that you are on the right track,” says Eric Matteson, MD, professor of medicine and rheumatologist at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. “There is often more that can be done to cool underlying, systemic inflammation and help prevent long-term damage to the joints and other organs that can occur with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), psoriatic arthritis (PsA) and ankylosing spondylitis (AS).”
A complete arthritis treatment plan eases pain and inflammation, slows joint and organ damage, and improves physical function and quality of life.
Cannabinoids for Pain Relief
There are two cannabinoids found in marijuana that have especially profound efficacy for those with arthritis: CBD and THC. CBD, or cannabidiol, is responsible for immune system modulation, meaning it is helpful for an autoimmune condition like rheumatoid arthritis. THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol — and byproducts of its metabolism — has been found to be anti-inflammatory and analgesic (pain-killing). THC is also known to reduce the anxiety and depression that commonly accompany severe diseases, especially those that affect one’s mobility.
The efficacy of cannabis for a wide variety of autoimmune and neurological conditions is the core focus of the medical marijuana movement. However, the sheer number of arthritis sufferers makes the development of new drugs or therapies targeted at this specific condition of special interest to a variety of companies. One example is Cannabis Technologies, a company based in Vancouver that is in the process of developing a new cannabinoid-based therapy that will directly treat arthritis.
Reducing Pharmaceutical Drugs
Cannabis is especially useful for helping arthritis patients wean themselves off serious pharmaceutical drugs that, in the long term, may cause more problems than they solve. For patients who must continue with pharmaceutical treatments, marijuana often eases the negative side effects of these drugs.
Cannabis is useful for people with RA and other chronic pain conditions because it alleviates pain, reduces inflammation, and helps patients sleep. Loss of appetite is common among those who suffer chronic pain. Cannabis therapy shows the promise of not only alleviating pain but also stimulating appetite and encouraging an otherwise ravaged body to at least nourishing itself as it attempts to fight a potentially deadly disease.
Arthritis, especially the life-altering RA type, is one of a long list of conditions found to be treatable with cannabis. The utility of this medicinal herb becomes apparent when patients realize that they can reduce or even eliminate a slew of pharmaceutical drugs — including their negative side effects. If cannabis did nothing but reduce the pain associated with conditions like arthritis, it would be worthy of further investigation as a valid medical treatment. Fortunately, its ability to reduce things like anxiety, depression, and inflammation make it even more valuable.
Although sativa strains are usually credited for being better pain relievers, some indica strains can also provide relief from arthritis symptoms.
MMJ DOCTOR: All Arthritis patients can be evaluated by our licensed Doctors to see if medical marijuana is a right option for your Arthritis. Click here to schedule your appointment online here.