The Arthritis Foundation estimates that approximately one in three adults suffers from arthritis, making it one of the most common health issues in the United States. Each year, more than 3 million Americans are newly diagnosed with some form of Arthritis, an affliction which encompasses over one hundred different forms of joint pain and disease.

Arthritis Foundation Issues Guidelines

Anti-inflammatories, biologics, and pain relievers such as steroids and DMARDs help treat and alleviate the pain associated with arthritis. In addition, many patients are turning to Cannabidiol (CBD) for pain relief. In fact, an Arthritis Foundation survey revealed that 94 percent of respondents have tried CBD, so it’s no surprise that the Foundation issued guidelines on CBD use, becoming the largest health organization to do so. It is important to note that The Foundation did not provide a recommendation for the popular product as a treatment, but acknowledged it as an alternative health therapy that may provide anti-inflammatory, pain-relieving effects.

This is an important step for arthritis sufferers who are looking for guidance from healthcare professionals on the popular hemp-derived product. JAMA has reported that  CBD  continues to be one of the most searched items on Google, so health providers should be equipped to provide information and guidance on its use. Additionally, the scientific community is increasingly investigating the natural supplement’s efficacy for arthritis, as well as many other afflictions.


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CBD May Reduce Pain

A study conducted by the University of Kentucky’s Pharmaceutical Sciences Department revealed preliminary, pre-clinical evidence of a positive relationship between transdermal CBD administration and inflammation and pain caused by arthritis. In the study, a cohort of 54 rats (including 23 adjuvant-induced arthritis subjects) were examined for joint circumference, immune cell invasion, and paw withdrawal latency (PWL) after transdermal (on-skin) administration of varied doses of CBD.

Joint circumference and immune cell invasion served as markers of inflammation, while PWL provided information about the rats overall pain. Transdermal administration of CBD reduced joint circumference, minimized immune cell infiltration, and returned PWL near baseline levels without any adverse side-effects. Overall, preliminary animal models suggest CBD provides anti-inflammatory, pain-relieving remedies for arthritis without any of the adverse side-effects of prescribed medications.

CBD’s anxiolytic, therapeutic, and anti-inflammatory, pain-reducing capabilities could potentially provide relief to arthritis sufferers. The preliminary research on CBD for arthritic pain lays the groundwork for additional research and perhaps a pain-free future for many patients. Of course, it is important for consumers to research their CBD products carefully to ensure they have undergone validation testing and use quality, trusted ingredients. While no major safety issues have been found with CBD when taken in moderate doses, it is important to be aware of potential drug interactions. CBD also does not replace disease-modifying drugs that help prevent permanent joint damage experienced in inflammatory types of arthritis.

Authored by Zach Meeker, Research Assistant for Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush University Medical Center


American Arthritis Foundation (2019). Arthritis by the numbers.

Hammell, D.C., Zhang, L.P., et. al. (2016). Transdermal cannabidiol reduces inflammation and pain-related behaviours in a rat model of arthritis. European Journal of Pain: July 20(6): 936948. Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Kentucky College of Pharmacy, Lexington, KY.

Eric C. Leas, PhD, MPH, Alicia L. Nobles, PhD, MS; Theodore L. Caputi, MPH; et al (2019). Trends in Internet Searches for Cannabidiol (CBD) in the United States. Journal of the American Medical Association.

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