In the United States, about one in ten people live with some form of arthritis. Its damage to these 30 million sufferers makes this disease the number one cause of disability. There are two common types of arthritis, Rheumatoid Arthritis and Osteoarthritis, but both affect the joints, causing pain and swelling, and limiting movement.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a serious autoimmune disease that attacks the joints, the membranes surrounding joints. As they are attacked, the membranes thicken with inflammation. The process begins to destroy cartilage and bone inside the joint. Rheumatoid arthritis can be tough to diagnose. The disease can cause severe debilitation for sufferers of all ages, as well as a slew of other immune system-related health problems. Symptoms can mimic other illnesses, or they may flare, then fade, only to flare again somewhere else. The symptoms include the following:
– Joint pain.
– Joint tenderness.
– Joint swelling.
– Joint redness.
– Joint warmth.
– Joint stiffness.
– Loss of joint range of motion.
Osteoarthritis is a disease of aging. It is the most common form of arthritis, affecting millions of people worldwide, almost 14 percent of all adults, more than one-third of adults over the age of 65 suffer from it whose immune systems are no longer as robust or efficient and whose cartilage has been worn away through many years of use. It is also known as ‘Degenerative Joint Disease‘, ‘Degenerative Arthritis‘, and ‘Wear-and-Tear Arthritis’. It occurs when the protective cartilage on the ends of your bones wears down over time. Although osteoarthritis can damage any joint in your body, the disorder most commonly affects joints in your hands, knees, hips and spine.
Osteoarthritis often gradually worsens, and no cure exists. Osteoarthritis symptoms often develop slowly and worsen over time. Signs and symptoms of osteoarthritis include:
–Pain. Your joints may hurt during or after movement.
–Tenderness. Your joint may feel tender when you apply light pressure to it.
–Stiffness. Joint stiffness may be most noticeable when you wake up in the morning or after a period of inactivity.
–Loss of flexibility. You may not be able to move your joint through its full range of motion.
–Grating sensation. You may hear or feel a grating sensation when you use the joint.
–Bone spurs. These extra bits of bone, which feel like hard lumps, may form around the affected joint.
Arthritis is a pain
Those who think the treatment of arthritis, especially the rheumatoid variety, with cannabis is new age medicine should think again. As far back as 2,000 B.C., four thousand years ago, the Chinese called cannabis a treatment that “undoes rheumatism.” During the 19th century, cannabis tinctures were common on pharmacy shelves throughout North America and administered as a pain killer (aspirin didn’t become common until the early part of the 20th century). The use of marijuana as a treatment for musclo-skeletal pain in western medicine dates to the 1700s. Evidence from recent research suggests that cannabis-based therapies are effective in the treatment of arthritis and the other rheumatic and degenerative hip, joint and connective tissue disorders. Since these are frequently extremely painful conditions, the well-documented analgesic properties of marijuana make it useful in treating the pain associated with arthritis, both on its own and as an adjunct therapy that enhances the effectiveness of opioid painkillers.
In the journal Rheumatology, a study last year reveals evidence of how marijuana fights inflammation of the joints. It confirmed the presence of CB2 receptors present at abnormally high levels in the joint tissues of arthritis patients. CB2 receptors are one of the two types of pathways activated by chemicals in marijuana. However, only CB1 receptors are responsible for the high. Marijuana activates CB2 receptors, the researchers were able to suppress inflammatory molecules thought to be involved with cartilage erosion.
There are two cannabinoids found in marijuana that have especially profound effectiveness for those with arthritis: CBD and THC. CBD, or cannabidiol, is responsible for immune system modulation, meaning it is helpful for an autoimmune condition like rheumatoid arthritis. THC— and byproducts of its metabolism — has been found to be anti-inflammatory and analgesic (pain killing). Cannabis has shown to have powerful immune-modulation and anti-inflammatory properties, suggesting that it could play a role in treating arthritis, and not just in symptom management. Modern research on cannabidiol (CBD) has found that it suppresses the immune response in mice and rats that is responsible for a disease resembling arthritis, protecting them from severe damage to their joints and markedly improving their condition.
Patients with rheumatoid arthritis reported less pain, more sleep, and reduced inflammation when taking marijuana, Cannanibinoids are known to reduce the anxiety and depression that commonly accompany severe diseases, especially those that affect one’s mobility. Weed relieves arthritis discomfort.
While using marijuana, people with forms of arthritis are actually able to use far less non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory medications that have the potential to be dangerous, harmful, and unsafe. Cannabis (CBD-rich) is especially useful for helping arthritis patients wean themselves off serious pharmaceutical drugs that, in the long term, may cause more problems than they solve. For patients who must continue with pharmaceutical treatments, marijuana often eases the negative side effects of these drugs. Cannabis has a demonstrated ability to improve mobility and reduce morning stiffness and inflammation. It’s not going to cure the disease, but it will do a lot to alleviate the pain and suffering of people with arthritis. Marijuana is less harmful than other available painkillers.
Research has already shown medical marijuana to be effective in treating not only arthritis, but also some, if not all, of its possible complications. Arthritis, especially the life-altering RA type, is one of a long list of conditions found to be treatable with cannabis. The utility of this medicinal herb becomes apparent when patients realize that they can reduce or even eliminate a slew of pharmaceutical drugs — including their negative side effects. If cannabis did nothing but reduce the pain associated with conditions like arthritis, it would be worthy of further investigation as a valid medical treatment. Fortunately, its ability to reduce things like anxiety, depression, and inflammation make it even more valuable.
Marijuana has become more accepted by the mainstream as politicians and pop culture icons alike talk openly about its recreational and purported medical benefits. Presidents and senators have even admitted to experimenting with the drug in their youth.
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