cbd for arthritis

Research Studies: CBD’s Effects On Arthritis

Arthritis is a disease characterized by chronic inflammation and pain in the joints. It can cause debilitating, life-changing pain. It is the leading cause of disability in America. However, studies are showing that CBD may be beneficial for not only reducing the pain resulting from arthritis, but also for reducing the inflammation which is the cause of arthritis. What are CBD’s effects on arthritis?

Arthritis is not just a single disease. Rather, it has a number of causes. And it can affect any joint in the human body. In fact, there are more than 100 types of joint diseases which fit under the heading of arthritis. Combined, these conditions affect a staggering 53 million adults and 300,000 children in the U.S. [1]

People of all ages, sexes, and races can and do suffer from arthritis. However, it occurs more frequently as people get older, and is more common among women than men.

Might CBD provide an effective treatment option for those affected by the condition? Recent studies do, in fact, suggest that CBD oil could play a role in the treatment of arthritis. Let’s take a closer look at CBD’s effects on arthritis.

Understanding Arthritis

Arthritis is characterized by inflammation and swelling of joints. There are two major types of arthritis – osteoarthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis. Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis. It’s believed that osteoarthritis is caused by “wear and tear” on joints over the long-term use. Rheumatoid arthritis is caused by an overactive immune response in the body. Also, in some cases, arthritis may have a genetic basis. [2]


The most common chronic joint condition is called osteoarthritis (OA), also sometimes referred to as a degenerative joint disease. It affects approximately 27 million Americans. OA occurs most often in large joints such as knees and hips, and can also occur in smaller joints such as those in the lower back and neck, fingers, and toes. [3]

In normal joints, cartilage covers the end of each bone, providing a smooth and rubbery surface that acts as a slippery cushion between the bones. In OA, the cartilage breaks down, exposing bone. This causes pain, swelling, and stiffness.

Osteoarthritis is most common in seniors over 65. Factors such obesity, injuries, overuse, and genetics all play a role in OA.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease. With RA, the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks the joints creating inflammation. This causes the tissue that lines the inside of joints (the synovium) to thicken. The result is chronic swelling and pain in and around the joints. This can also damage cartilage. Joint deformity is also common with RA.

Rheumatoid arthritis most commonly affects the smaller joints such as those in the hands, feet, and wrists, but can also affect elbows, knees, and ankles. [4]

There are also several other types of arthritis. Some of these are psoriatic arthritis (PsA), fibromyalgia, Lupus, and gout. Each of them causes pain in a different way.[5]

Facts About Arthritis

  • Arthritis is the leading cause of disability in the United States
  • Arthritis affects over 50 million Americans. [3]
  • Osteoarthritis of the knees is 1 of the top 5 leading causes of disability among non-institutionalized adults. [2]
  • About 80% of patients with OA have some degree of movement limitation. [2]
  • About 40% of adults with knee OA report their health as “poor” or “fair.” [2]
  • One in two adults will develop symptoms of knee OA during their lives. [3]
  • One in four adults will develop symptoms of hip OA by age 85. [3]
  • About 1.5 million people in the United States have rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
  • One in 12 people 60 years or older have hand OA. [3]
  • Nearly three times as many women have RA as men. [4]
  • In women, RA most commonly begins between ages 30 and 60. [4]
  • In men, RA often occurs later in life. [4]
  • Having a family member with RA increases the odds of having RA; however, the majority of people with RA have no family history of the disease. [4]
  • More than one-third of the adults who have arthritis report that it limits their leisure activities and work. [5]
  • 25% of RA patients say it causes severe pain. [5]
  • There are more than 100 different forms of arthritis and related diseases. [5]

Research Studies on CBD’s Effects on Arthritis


Several studies have looked into CBD’s effects on arthritis with promising results.

In 2016, a study entitled “Transdermal cannabidiol reduces inflammation and pain-related behaviors in a rat model of arthritis,” looked at the effects of CBD on rats with arthritis. Researchers applied CBD gel to rats for four consecutive days. The rats that received the CBD showed reductions in inflammation and overall pain in the affected joints. [6]

Here is the conclusion reached by the researcher:

These data indicate that topical CBD application has therapeutic potential for relief of arthritis pain-related behaviors and inflammation without evident side-effects.

Other studies on lab animals also show a correlation between treatment with CBD and a reduction of inflammation and symptoms.

  • A 2011 study found that CBD helped to reduce inflammatory pain in rats by affecting the way pain receptors respond to stimuli. [11]
  • A 2014 review entitled, “Involvement of the endocannabinoid system in osteoarthritis pain,” noted that CBD had shown promise as an effective treatment for OA. [12]
  • And a 2017 study entitled “Attenuation of early phase inflammation by cannabidiol prevents pain and nerve damage in rat osteoarthritis,” found that CBD might be a safe and useful treatment for OA joint pain. [13]

CBD In the Treatment of Arthritis

While scientists, encouraged by the results seen in animal models, continue to dig deeper into CBD’s effects on arthritis, preclinical data is indicating that cannabinoids may indeed moderate the progression of arthritis in humans.

In 2005 an anonymous questionnaire surveyed arthritis patients in Australia. A full 25 percent of respondents reported using cannabinoids to treat RA. [7]

And in a survey of British medical cannabis patients, more than 20 percent of respondents reported using cannabis for symptoms of arthritis. [8]

In January of 2006, in the first-ever controlled trial assessing CBD’s effects on arthritis, and in particular RA, investigators at the British Royal National Hospital for Rheumatic Disease claimed to have successfully treated arthritis patients with cannabinoids. In the study, entitled, “Preliminary assessment of the efficacy, tolerability, and safety of a cannabis medicine (Sativex) in the treatment of pain caused by rheumatoid arthritis,” investigators reported that treatment with cannabinoids over a five-week period produced a significant reduction in pain and inflammation compared to placebo. Researchers claimed that no serious adverse effects were observed. [9]

And, finally, researchers at Tokyo’s National Institute for Neuroscience undertook the job of summarizing all available literature on CBD as a treatment for autoimmune diseases. The report entitled, “Cannabinoids and the immune system: potential for the treatment of inflammatory diseases,” was published in the Journal of Neuroimmunology. It concluded, “Cannabinoid therapy of RA could provide symptomatic relief of joint pain and swelling as well as suppressing joint destruction and disease progression.” [10]

CBD’s Effects of Arthritis Conclusion

As we can see from the studies above, CBD oil shows promise as a treatment not only for reducing the inflammation and pain associated with arthritis, but it also modulates the immune system responses which can contribute to the disease.

More research is needed to determine CBD’s potential as a treatment for arthritis pain. And as with any alternative therapy, it’s important to speak to a knowledgeable medical professional in order to make an informed decision.

You may also be interested in our article about using CBD for pain.

Sources for CBD’s Effects on Arthritis

  1. Can Cannabis Help Repair Arthritic Joints? https://www.leafly.com/news/science-tech/the-medical-minute-can-cannabis-help-repair-arthritic-joints
  2. Cannabinoid Use in the Treatment of Osteoarthritis Pain https://www.medicaljane.com/2015/01/26/cannabinoid-use-in-the-treatment-of-osteoarthritis-pain/
  3. What is Osteoarthritis? https://www.arthritis.org/about-arthritis/types/osteoarthritis/what-is-osteoarthritis.php
  4. What is Rheumatoid Arthritis? https://www.arthritis.org/about-arthritis/types/rheumatoid-arthritis/what-is-rheumatoid-arthritis.php
  5. Sources of Arthritis Pain https://www.arthritis.org/living-with-arthritis/pain-management/understanding/types-of-pain.php
  6. Transdermal cannabidiol reduces inflammation and pain-related behaviors in a rat model of arthritis https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4851925/
  7. CBD oil and arthritis pain relief https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/319796.php
  8. Can Cannabis Help Repair Arthritic Joints? https://www.leafly.com/news/science-tech/the-medical-minute-can-cannabis-help-repair-arthritic-joints
  9. Cannabis and Arthritis: THC and CBD to the Rescue https://www.massroots.com/learn/best-cannabis-for-arthritis/
  10. Dalhousie researcher investigates use of marijuana for arthritis pain http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/nova-scotia/dalhousie-researcher-investigates-use-of-marijuana-for-arthritis-pain-1.3142592
  11. The abnormal cannabidiol analogue O-1602 reduces nociception in a rat model of acute arthritis via the putative cannabinoid receptor GPR55 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21683763
  12. Involvement of the endocannabinoid system in osteoarthritis pain. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24494687
  13. Attenuation of early phase inflammation by cannabidiol prevents pain and nerve damage in rat osteoarthritis. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28885454
2 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *