Here’s what you need to know about treating joint pain with cannabis

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From joint pain to the often debilitating effects of arthritis, corticosteroid injections have been a staple in managing pain and inflammation for the almost 30 million Americans that suffer from osteoarthritis (OA). With new research showcasing the long-term effects of one of the most used treatments for OA, doctors and researchers are concerned about the risks of injections and the potential risks involved with cortisone.

Boston University study published this month found that patients who had been given the medicine by injection found a risk for “accelerated OA progression or adverse joint events after treatment.” Meaning, when a patient was treated for osteoarthritis via a shot of cortisone, it may have accelerated the progression of the disease, including complications, joint destruction, and bone loss.

Interestingly, the study found that certain preexisting conditions, such as older age and Caucasian race seemed to increase the risk for the outcome even more. Researchers recommended MRI pre-screening before injections were given to identify the area better and find if the danger could be accurately assessed before the dose was given.

Understanding Cannabis’ effect on OA

Long cited and used for inflammation and joint pain, cannabis and CBD oil have helped with not only chronic pain conditions, but managing symptoms of OA. In a 2018 study by the US National Library of Medicine, researchers stated, “There is a growing body of scientific evidence which supports the analgesic potential of cannabinoids to treat OA pain.” To dive deeper, Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia found that since OA pain is multi-faceted, cannabis can help trigger the body’s own endocannabinoid system (ECS) to block pain receptors and potentially offer relief.

Even the Arthritis Foundation is taking notice, releasing its first guide to CBD for those that suffer from the condition. Dr. Daniel Clauw, a contributor to the guide stated, “Right now, it (CBD) appears to be fairly safe and might help certain types of pain.”

While CBD and THC certainly can’t take over the entirety of a pain management regimen, studies like the one conducted on cortisone treatments are bringing the conversations of cannabis and CBD to greater light and offering less stigmatization, which opens the door for better education for all.

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