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Natural Awakenings Naples and Fort Myers

Relieving Arthritis Pain with Medical Cannabis

Apr 30, 2023 09:30AM ● By David Friedman

Arthritis is a widespread chronic condition causing inflamed and painful joints, leading to stiffness, pain and reduced mobility, making daily tasks difficult. It can occur in any joint, including the hands, knees, hips and spine. There are more than 100 forms of arthritis, with osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis being the most common. Arthritis can occur at any age or sex, and is the leading disability in the U.S., particularly for women.

Conventional Treatments for Arthritis

Several treatment options are available for arthritis, including medication, physical therapy and surgery. Medications such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID), can help reduce joint inflammation and pain. However, they may cause side effects such as stomach upset, heartburn and increased risk of heart attack or stroke.

Many arthritis patients are prescribed narcotic options to reduce pain, but powerful painkillers that contain opioids are extremely addictive and have led to increased overdose-related deaths. Outside of medication, physical therapy can help improve joint flexibility and strengthen the muscles around the affected joint, while surgery may be necessary in severe cases. Physical therapy is the least invasive of the two primary conventional treatments compared to pharmaceutical pain medication and over-the-counter NSAIDs.

Medical Cannabis for Arthritis

For individuals that find traditional treatments inadequate, medical cannabis presents a promising alternative, and is rapidly gaining popularity nationwide as a viable option and alternative to traditional pharmaceuticals. By harnessing the power of state-regulated and lab-tested medical marijuana products, patients can choose selections that help them find the relief they need to go about their daily lives more easily. By obtaining a medical marijuana card in Florida, certified patients can access specific lab-tested cannabis products that are suited for arthritis relief.

Medical cannabis is a safe and natural approach to managing inflammation and opens up a world of possibilities for arthritis patients. With access to thousands of products, patients can find the proper dosage and consumption method that works best for them via dry herbs, vaporizers, dabbed extracts or edibles to find relief from the pain and inflammation associated with arthritis. It is available in forms including dry herb (flower), concentrate (extract), tinctures, edibles and vape cartridges, and can be obtained with a prescription or recommendation from a certified cannabis doctor.

Cannabinoids and Arthritis

Medical marijuana contains cannabinoids which interact with the body's endocannabinoid system to reduce inflammation and pain. Cannabinoids such as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) have shown anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties by interacting with the body's endocannabinoid system, which is crucial in regulating pain and inflammation. Research published in the PubMed National Library of Medicine shows that medical cannabis can help reduce pain and inflammation in arthritis patients.

One recent study found that cannabis use was associated with significant reductions in pain and improved sleep quality in patients with chronic pain, including those with arthritis. Another study published in the European Journal of Pain found that topical application of CBD reduced pain and inflammation in rats with arthritis.

Terpenes Reduce Arthritis Pain and Inflammation

Terpenes are natural compounds found in a variety of plants, including cannabis. Responsible for the plant's aroma and flavor, recent studies suggest they may also have medicinal properties. Terpenes work in synergy with other cannabinoids like CBD and THC to produce therapeutic effects such as pain and inflammation relief.

One terpene, beta-caryophyllene, has shown significant promise in reducing arthritic inflammation and pain. It binds to CB2 receptors found primarily in the immune system and has anti-inflammatory effects. Another terpene, limonene, has also been shown to modulate the body's immune response, which is often the cause of arthritis symptoms. As a potent antioxidant, it can help protect the joints from oxidative stress.

Myrcene, another terpene found in medical marijuana, can help reduce pain by inhibiting the production of prostaglandins, responsible for inflammation and pain. It also enhances the permeability of the blood-brain barrier, allowing other cannabinoids to pass through and produce therapeutic effects.

Finding the Right Dosage

The correct dosage of medical cannabis is crucial for arthritis patients to experience the maximum benefit. It is recommended to begin with a low dose and gradually increase it until the desired effect is achieved. In Florida, medical marijuana patients can access various products that can help them find the correct dosage with minimal psychoactive effects.

Dry herbs (flowers), vaporizers and extracts are some of the fastest-acting products, which is convenient when finding an optimal dosage. On the other hand, edibles take much longer to produce effects, but offer stronger and longer-lasting effects. It's crucial to start small and increase the dosage when using edibles, as they offer robust potency and have delayed effects. By working with a healthcare professional or medical marijuana doctor and experimenting with different products and dosages, patients can experience temporary relief from arthritis.

Potential Side Effects

While medical cannabis has many potential benefits, it may also cause side effects such as dizziness, nausea, dry mouth and a “medicated” feeling. They are generally mild and can be managed by adjusting the dosage or method of consumption.

David Friedman is the manager of Compassionate Healthcare of Florida, comprising an expert team of board-certified physicians providing patients in Southwest Florida certification and guidance on how to safely and effectively use medical marijuana to manage symptoms. For more information, call 833-633-3665 or visit