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Arthritis is the leading cause of disability in the United States, affecting over 50 million Americans. The two most common types of arthritis are:

  • Rheumatoid arthritis (RA): An autoimmune disease in which a person’s immune system attacks their joints, causing inflammation. RA commonly affects the hands and feet and leads to painful, swollen, and stiff joints.
  • Osteoarthritis (OA): A degenerative disease that affects joint cartilage and bones, causing pain and stiffness. It often affects the hip, knee, and thumb joints.

Some studies on animals suggest that CBD could help to treat arthritis and relieve the associated inflammatory pain:

  • 2011 study found that CBD helped to reduce inflammatory pain in rats by affecting the way that pain receptors respond to stimuli.
  • 2014 review of the existing body of research on animals concluded that CBD may be an effective treatment for OA.
  • 2016 study found that the topical application of CBD had the potential to relieve pain and inflammation associated with arthritis.
  • 2017 study found that CBD might be a safe and useful treatment for OA joint pain.

However, to date, there a lack of scientific evidence to prove conclusively that CBD is an effective arthritis treatment for humans.

2006 study found that a cannabis-based mouth spray called Sativex helped to relieve arthritis pain. However, the cannabis plant extracts that the company use to make the spray contain both CBD and THC.

While findings so far have been encouraging, more research is necessary to confirm that CBD oil is an effective treatment for arthritis pain.

CBD oil and chronic pain

Senior person holding knee in pain.

CBD may help manage chronic pain by affecting the brain’s response to pain signals.

Cannabinoids, such as CBD, attach themselves to specialized receptors in a person’s brain and immune system.

One of these receptors, called a CB2 receptor, plays a role in the immune system by managing pain and inflammation.

Researchers believe that when CBD enters a person’s body, it may attach to CB2 receptors. Alternatively, it may cause the body to produce natural cannabinoids that attach to the CB2 receptors.

Either way, scientists think CBD affects the way that these receptors respond to the signals that they receive, possibly helping reduce inflammation and pain.

2008 review of research into CBD and its possible mechanism of action suggested that CBD could play a role in chronic pain management.