Medical Marijuana for Osteoarthritis

medical marijuana for osteoarthritis

Medical Marijuana for Osteoarthritis

As one of the most common rheumatic conditions among Americans today, osteoarthritis causes chronic pain and suffering that has no cure. Fortunately, many people of all ages and walks of life are finding relief for their chronic pain through using medical marijuana. Let’s take a look at what osteoarthritis is, who it affects, and how medical marijuana can help alleviate the daily suffering of thousands if not millions of people.

What is Osteoarthritis (OA)?

A condition caused by a multitude of factors including age, repetitive stress, bone deformities, or joint injury, Osteoarthritis occurs when damaged and inflamed cartilage create painful movement in joints where bones meet and rub together. OA also deteriorates and inflames tendons, ligaments and the synovium (joint lining) surrounding many joints in the human body. While it can occur in any joint of the human body, OA most commonly occurs in the hands, knees, hips, and spine. Symptoms include chronic pain, swelling, and stiffness in the affected joints. There is no cure for OA, and complications from OA are responsible for over 800,000 hospitalizations per year in the United States.

What Populations are Affected by OA?

Women and middle-aged persons are most at risk for developing OA, and the risk of developing chronic pain from OA increase with age. In many cases, the pain of OA  can become crippling as people age, and it is among the top causes of disability among elderly Americans.  Nearly 50% of adults over 65 in the US are diagnosed with a form of osteoarthritis, and an estimated 78 million Americans age 18 and older are projected to be diagnosed with some form of osteoarthritis by the year 2040. Every day, millions of people have their life and activity level limited by the pain and stiffness that comes with osteoarthritis. Tying shoelaces, walking, kneeling, and bending can become a torturous affair due to OA, and because there is no cure most patients only option is to adapt a diet and exercise regimen to help slow the effects of OA, and use pain management to overcome the chronic swelling and painful movement.

How can Medical Marijuana Help People Suffering From OA?

Current research demonstrates that using cannabis reduces the chronic pain of OA and helps limit joint damage. As an analgesic (painkiller) and anti-inflammatory, cannabis is unmatched as a treatment for both the pain and swelling that are the most damaging symptoms of OA in adults.

Patients participating in cannabis treatment for OA have reported increased range of motion, far less pain, and increased ability to participate in activities they previously considered impossible due to their OA symptoms. The CBD and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in cannabis not only deadens pain as an analgesic, but also stimulates the immune system to help repair the damage caused by osteoarthritis. This not only reduces chronic pain, but also helps eliminate fatigue and slow the effects of OA as a person ages.

Altogether, medical marijuana offers significant benefit to those who suffer daily from the effects of OA, and it is both non addictive and does not have the unpleasant long term side effects of managing pain with opioid painkillers. With more governments in all fifty states decriminalizing marijuana each year, it is likely that medical marijuana to treat OA will become a commonplace remedy for all Americans in the near future.

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