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Osteoarthritis and CBD

There is significant scientific evidence, as well as substantial anecdotal claims, to support the efficacy of CBD as an anti-inflammatory compound. For this reason, many individuals that suffer from inflammation and inflammatory diseases, such as arthritis, have turned to CBD as a potential natural treatment. But what about more severe forms of arthritis, like osteoarthritis? Can CBD help those with osteoarthritis find relief? Let’s take a closer look.

What is Osteoarthritis?  

Osteoarthritis is a form of degenerative arthritis in which the cartilage gradually wears away over time, leaving the bones exposed to rub against each other, which creates inflammation and pain. There are two types of osteoarthritis:

  • Primary osteoarthritis is the more common and general form of osteoarthritis. This type of osteoarthritis typically affects the fingers, thumbs, hips, knees, and spine.
  • Secondary osteoarthritis is a result of injury or inflammation within a joint. This type of osteoarthritis is commonly caused by repetitive movements of the same joint, and sports-related injury.

Symptoms and Risk Factors

Older man suffering from osteoarthritis in his knee.

The most common symptoms of osteoarthritis include tenderness or pain in specific joints after movement or when light pressure is applied. Noticeable stiffness in certain areas upon waking in the morning or after extended periods of inactivity can be signs of osteoarthritis. Grating sensations and loss of flexibility are also indicators of osteoarthritis.

While anyone can develop osteoarthritis over time, there are a few factors that may increase your risk:

  • Age: the longer you use your body, the greater your risk of developing the condition.
  • Overuse of joints: athletes are often at greater risk of developing osteoarthritis due to repetitive movements.
  • Obesity: extra weight on your joints can cause stress on the cartilage, causing it to deteriorate faster.

Common Treatment Options for Osteoarthritis  

As it stands today, the most common treatment options for osteoarthritis (aside from lifestyle changes) include medications, physical therapy, and surgery. Unfortunately, many of the medications prescribed to relieve pain associated with osteoarthritis can become addictive and come with the risk of dangerous side effects, including fatigue, nausea, headaches, and the feeling of being in a “fog,” among many others. This drug also offers the risk of liver damage and requires that you have a blood test every 60 days when utilizing the medicine to check for damage. In combination with other DMARD medications, it is also known for causing damage to the eye. 

Other drugs, such as opioids are often prescribed for pain management. Opioids have a high potential rate for abuse and addiction, and according to the CDC, from 1999 to 2017, more than 700,000 people lost their lives to a drug overdose. Of those deaths, 68% involved an illicit or prescription opioid.

It is for this very reason that many people are starting to ask themselves if natural alternatives, such as CBD, may help relieve symptoms of osteoarthritis.

Let’s take a closer look.

Can CBD Help with Osteoarthritis? What the Research says about CBD and Osteoarthritis

A bottle of CBD oil

A July 2019 report released by the Arthritis Foundation addressed to the FDA included some pretty impressive statistics (listed below) supporting the belief that CBD could offer substantial benefits to those who have arthritis and other inflammatory-related issues.

  • 79% of respondents are currently using, had previously used, or were considering using CBD products
  • 87% of those using CBD were doing so to manage the symptoms of arthritis
  • 94% of those using CBD were doing so to relieve pain
  • 70% of respondents reported CBD as being “effective” or “very effective” in relieving symptoms such as insomnia, pain, nausea, and anxiety

A 2017 study conducted at Dalhousie University entitled “Attenuation of early phase inflammation by cannabidiol prevents pain and nerve damage in rat Osteoarthritis,” showed, for the first time, that local CBD administration inhibited pain and peripheral sensation in established osteoarthritis. The study ultimately concluded that “CBD may be a safe, useful therapeutic for treating OA joint neuropathic pain.”

In a 2016 joint study by the University of Kentucky College of Pharmacy’s Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences and the University of Kentucky College of Medicine titled “Transdermal cannabidiol reduces inflammation and pain-related behaviours in a rat model of arthritis,” researchers concluded, “that topical CBD application has therapeutic potential for relief of arthritis pain-related behaviours and inflammation without evident side-effects.”

Using CBD For Osteoarthritis

While CBD can be consumed in a variety of different ways, the recommended method for osteoarthritis patients to utilize this compound is through topical application. This type of delivery method allows patients to better target their areas of concern directly in comparison to an ingestible method where the concentration of CBD would be spread throughout the entire body. Many believe, and science supports that topicals such as CBD creams, CBD oils, and CBD salves may hold the potential to improve quality of life for osteoarthritis patients.


Osteoarthritis is a degenerative disease that causes stiffness, pain, neuropathy, inflammation, and many other debilitating symptoms. While many patients have had to deal with negative side effects caused by pharmaceutical treatments over the years, CBD provides a promising alternative.

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