- Arthritis affects more than 50 million people with chronic joint pain, swelling, and stiffness.
- The condition is the number-one cause of physical disability in the United States.
- With its pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory properties, CBD may alleviate arthritis symptoms.
Complaining joints may be more than just the aging process. Joint pain, swelling, and stiffness, combined with a limited range of motion, can all indicate a more serious problem: arthritis. At its worst, arthritis pain can make everyday tasks unbearable. Cannabinoids may take the edge off arthritis, possibly eliminating the need for treatments with side effects such as steroids and invasive treatment options such as surgery.
Arthritis is extremely common, and it actually comprises 100 different but related conditions. You may think of it as a natural part of aging, affecting only the oldest among us. In reality, more than 50 million adults of all ages and more than 300,000 children suffer from some form of arthritis. Symptoms range from mildly irritating to disabling.
The two most common types of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, which are triggered by two different mechanisms:
- OSTEOARTHRITIS (aka degenerative arthritis) occurs with a breakdown of articular cartilage from mechanical means—rubbing of the joint surfaces—or an old injury, perhaps from sports. Cartilage is a smooth tissue that covers the articulating surfaces of bones and facilitates the motion of the bones upon one another. Arthritic changes in the joint occur when cartilage is compromised, resulting in inflammation.
- RHEUMATOID ARTHRITIS (aka inflammatory arthritis) is an autoimmune disease, occurring when inflammation ravages the joints. It results in a breakdown of cartilage and other joint tissue from the autoimmune attack of the body upon itself. Rheumatoid arthritis can involve organs as a function of the global attack of the body upon itself.
Arthritis symptoms are a tricky bunch—they differ between types of the condition and may come and go. Telltale signs around the joints include:
- Stiffness, especially in the morning
- Decreased range of motion
Where in your body you feel the pain and stiffness varies. Osteoarthritis tends to affect the lower back, hips, knees, and feet. Rheumatoid arthritis usually affects smaller joints, like those in the hands and feet.
Who Is at Risk?
Because arthritis is considered a normal part of aging, many people— young and old—do not get the help they need. Remember, anyone can suffer from arthritis. The following factors contribute to the risk of developing arthritis:
- GENETICS. Not only can a family history of arthritis put you at higher risk of suffering from the condition, but certain genes make you more susceptible to environmental risk factors, such as smoking.
- AGE. Although people of any age can suffer from arthritis, the risk increases with age.
- GENDER. Women are more likely to suffer from arthritis than men.
- OBESITY. Extra weight puts more pressure on your joints, which can result in arthritis.
- INJURY. If you injure a joint—while playing sports, for example—you are more likely to develop arthritis in that joint.
The CBD Answer
Early and effective treatment is crucial not only to your joint health but to your overall health, because arthritis may affect internal organs via inflammation. CBD can help fight inflammation, giving you an edge to preserve your joints.
WHY IT WORKS
Much of arthritis pain comes from the irritation and inflammation caused by either disappearing cartilage or immune response and inflammation. CBD’s anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties work diligently to calm the angry joints of those with arthritis.
A real problem
If you think that 50 million sounds like a lot of arthritis sufferers, consider this statistic. Predictions indicate that about 78 million people will be diagnosed with arthritis by the year 2040. That is a problem, because:
- On average, people suffer with the pain of arthritis for two years before they get treatment.
- People with arthritis are twice as likely to suffer from depression.
- Having arthritis can put you at risk for other chronic conditions, such as heart disease and diabetes.
Managing arthritis early on is key to keeping this condition from affecting your independent and active lifestyle.
CBD VERSUS OTHER TREATMENTS
Over-the-counter pain relievers are the most common treatment for arthritis, but long-term use comes with its own set of problems, including stomach ulcers and liver damage. Certainly, no one wants to have surgery, but this is unfortunately what many individuals must resort to in the face of severe pain and immobility. CBD decreases inflammation and relieves pain without long-term side effects.
Natural Partners for CBD
The optimal way to deal with arthritis is with personalized lifestyle medicine, which pairs perfectly with CBD.
- RUN HOT AND COLD. A tried and true way to combat joint pain is to apply heat to relax the muscles and increase circulation, and cold to reduce inflammation and numb the pain. Hot showers, hot tubs, heating pads, ice packs, and even bags of frozen vegetables may all do the trick to provide some relief. Be sure not to apply either hot or cold for more than 20 minutes.
- MAINTAIN A HEALTHY WEIGHT. Excess weight is especially detrimental to arthritis sufferers because extra pounds put stress on the joints. Maintaining a healthy weight can do wonders.
- KEEP MOVING. Regular movement can strengthen the joints and the muscles surrounding the joints, helping to stave off arthritis. Keep in mind that excessive exercise can have the opposite effect. Restorative yoga, swimming, walking, and hiking may be enough to keep stiffness and swelling at bay.
Top three movement activities for arthritis
Move your body with these options:
- Range-of-motion activities such as bending and straightening your joints
- Strengthening activities such as resistance bands, free weights, and gentle yoga
- Low-impact aerobic activities such as walking, easy hiking, bike cruising, and swimming
Go easy and make time to warm up and cool down.
From The CBD Oil Miracle by Laura Lagano. Copyright © 2019 by the author and reprinted by permission of St. Martin’s Publishing Group.
Photography by Alyson Brown