Are you suffering from osteoarthritis?
CBD is a promising remedy for Osteoarthritis.
There are more than 100 types of arthritic diseases, and Osteoarthritis is one of the most common. This condition shows pain and inflammation as its symptoms, similar to Rheumatoid arthritis. However, Osteoarthritis is caused by joint wear and tear, while Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease in which the body attacks the lining of the joints. In the field of cannabinoid research, scientists believe that cannabis shows potential as an alternative medication for sufferers of both conditions.
Osteoarthritis is the cause of nearly 69.9% of hospitalizations, about 814,900 in the US in 2006 that result from arthritis complications. With the range of activities people perform on an everyday basis using their joints such as holding a cup, writing, typing, turning on a faucet, tying shoelaces, eating, walking, kneeling, squatting, bending, and so on, symptoms can be severely painful and unbearable. The symptoms significantly interfere in the lives of patients who suffer from it.
Osteoarthritis of the knee is one of the five leading causes of disability among non-institutionalized adults, according to the CDC’s osteoarthritis website. About 80% of osteoarthritis patients have some degree of movement limitation. Around 40% of adults with knee osteoarthritis reported their health as “poor” or “fair.”
Osteoarthritis can also lead to shortened survival, both directly and because of treatments required for management including bleeding of the stomach caused by NSAIDS, a type of over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication. The economic burden of osteoarthritis, plus costs associated with knee and hip replacements, and efficiency loss in the workplace, is over $50 billion. Exercising regularly and maintaining ideal weight can help prevent osteoarthritis from getting worse, and may reduce symptoms such as pain and joint dysfunction.
What is Osteoarthritis?
Arthritis, in general, is the inflammation and swelling of joints, the area where bones connect. The joints provide support to the body and assist in maintaining mobility. Osteoarthritis, also known as degenerative joint disease, is the most common type of arthritis and is caused by “wear and tear,” or long-term use. According to studies, it may have a genetic basis.
The wear and tear or long term use of the joints results in destruction of hyaline cartilage, a firm connective tissue found in joints that prevents bones from rubbing against each other and being damaged. Any joint in the body can be affected and damaged by osteoarthritis, but the most commonly affected by the disorder are the hands, knees, hips, and spine.
Cartilage is the tissue that allows bones to move in a joint without causing friction. With osteoarthritis, the cartilage becomes rough rather than slick, and eventually wears down completely, and the bones rub against each other.
The symptoms include pain that occurs during or after movement, joint tenderness and stiffness, loss of flexibility, a grating sensation that occurs when the joint moves and the forming of bone spurs around the joint. The affected joints can also swell after an extended activity. Over time, the pain and stiffness can become so severe that it could interfere to the patient’s daily tasks.
Osteoarthritis usually develops in women and the risk increases with age. Being overweight or obese contribute more stress on the weight-bearing joints and can lead to the development of osteoarthritis. Repetitive stress from work-related or athletic movements can also lead to the osteoarthritis. There is no cure for osteoarthritis and the damage done is irreversible. Treatment, therefore, focuses on controlling the progression of the disease and managing pain.
CBD as a treatment for Osteoarthritis
According to an animal study published in PloS ONE, a cannabinoid (CB2) receptor stimulation in the spinal cords of rats acting as models for osteoarthritis pain in humans, and was treated with monosodium acetate to induce osteoarthritis-type pain and joint issues, led to decrease in pain response and inflammatory markers.
In the rat model for osteoarthritis, researchers found that there is an increase in CB2 receptors in neurons and the essential supportive cells for neurons called microglia. There are markers of central sensitization such as a heightened response to pain because of pain neuron “irritation” activation by surrounding tissue damage or swelling. It also includes spinal astrogliosis, an increase in overactive astrocytes. Astrocytes are supportive cells of the nervous system. Furthermore, there is increased activity of the connective tissue degrading enzymes, known as metalloproteases, in the spinal cord.
Results of cannabinoid stimulation includes a compound that stimulates CB2 receptors helped reduce pain and spinal neuron response to pain stimuli, and prevented increases in inflammation.
According to the researchers, targeting CB2 receptors may have therapeutic potential for treating osteoarthritis pain. Therapies that stimulate CB2 receptors, including endocannabinoids, phytocannabinoids, or synthetic cannabinoids, may prove helpful for osteoarthritis.
These results add to previous evidence suggesting that cannabinoid therapies may be useful in the treatment of pain such as chronic and neuropathic pain, as well as pain resulting specifically from osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, and inflammation. According to the researchers, cannabinoid therapies also provide a neurobiological basis for analgesic effects of the CB2 receptor.
Targeting CB2 receptors may have therapeutic potential for treating osteoarthritis pain, given that opioid prescription is a pain management option for patients with osteoarthritis for whom standard therapies are not optimally effective or are contraindicated. In addition, use of opioids can lead to severe negative side effects, abuse, dependence, and death. Cannabis use may be able to partially, or fully replace opioid use in some instances, patients may benefit from access to alternative, safe pain management options like cannabinoid therapies.
Cannabinoid treatments have a favorable safety profile. Patients with osteoarthritis have a decreased quality of life because of their symptoms, and the burden for patients translates into large financial losses. Therefore, finding safe alternative treatments to manage the symptoms of osteoarthritis for patients who are not experiencing optimal relief from standard medications, or who are experiencing negative side effects from standard medications, is essential.
Effects of Cannabis on Osteoarthritis
Clinical research on cannabis effect specifically on osteoarthritis is limited. However, studies have showed cannabis’ potent anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving effects.
In a study, cannabidiol (CBD) demonstrated to block effectively the progression of arthritis. Researchers found that CBD protected joints against severe damage. It was therefore concluded that CBD offers a potent anti-arthritic effect. Other studies utilizing mice with osteoarthritis have found that synthetic cannabinoids offer strong anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressive properties and reduce joint damage.
Pain associated with osteoarthritis can be nociceptive or neuropathic. Cannabis cannabinoids like CBD and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) activate the CB1 and CB2 receptors of the endocannabinoid system were found to regulate the release of neurotransmitter and central nervous system immune cells, managing both nociceptive and neuropathic pain levels.
States That Have Approved Medical Marijuana for Osteoarthritis
While California and New Mexico have approved medical marijuana for all types of arthritis, no state have approved medical marijuana specifically for the treatment of osteoarthritis, as of the moment. Moreover, in Washington D.C., any condition can be approved for medical marijuana as long as a DC-licensed physician recommends the treatment.
In addition, various other states will consider allowing the use of medical marijuana for the treatment of osteoarthritis with the recommendation from a physician. In Connecticut, other medical conditions may be approved by the Department of Consumer Protection. In Massachusetts, other conditions as determined in writing by a qualifying patient’s physician. In Nevada, Rhode Island, and Oregon, other conditions are subject to approval. In Washington, any “terminal or debilitating condition”.
Several states have approved medical marijuana specifically to treat chronic pain. These states include: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Montana, New Mexico, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and West Virginia. The states of Nevada, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Ohio, and Vermont allow medical marijuana to treat severe pain. The states of Arkansas, Minnesota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Washington and West Virginia have approved cannabis for the treatment of intractable pain.