Does CBD Help With Knee Arthritis? | How It Works, 8 Forms, And More

Written By on June 17, 2022 — Medically Reviewed By Mitch Torres (PT)

This supplement is gaining popularity for its analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties. But what about joint problems? Does CBD help with knee arthritis?

Some studies indicate that yes, it can. The few trials that have been done on humans show promising results as a treatment for joint problems, among other things.

We’ll discuss all about it below, as well as how you can benefit from this supplement. Here are the topics included, tap on any of them to go to its section:

How does CBD help knee arthritis pain?

CBD, short for cannabidiol, is a chemical extracted from the hemp or cannabis plant. It is then diluted with a carrier, usually hemp seed or coconut oil, for human consumption.

It’s the second most prevalent chemical compound in the plant, after tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). The latter is responsible for the psychoactive effects of medical cannabis.

But by removing it, we’re left with CBD only – all the health benefits without the “high.”

Now, CBD products are known to suppress pro-inflammatory pathways, though the exact mechanism remains unclear (1)

Researchers believe this has to do with how CBD interacts with the endocannabinoid system (ECS). This is a wide network of receptors and chemicals that ultimately regulate pain perception and mood, among other things.

Some studies done in rats show the effects of CBD on pain and inflammation.

For example, a 2016 study reported that CBD reduced pain and inflammation in rats with arthritis. (2) In another study, it not only reduced swelling but also helped prevent osteoarthritis pain in the animals. (3)

It’s true that we can’t extrapolate these results – rodents and humans are obviously not the same species. But they do show all the potential CBD has, as well as explain the why behind all the benefits so many people experience with this supplement. (4, 5, 6)

Yet, the few human studies done do show similar results in chronic pain.

Take this 2019 study as an example. The researchers worked with 97 patients that had chronic pain and had been on opioids for at least 1 year, giving them 15-30mg of CBD daily for 8 weeks.

The result? 53% of them reduced and even eliminated the use of opioids, just after 2 months of using hemp-derived CBD products (soft gels).

It suggests that CBD may improve chronic pain while reducing opioid use. (7) Which is extremely important, as chronic pain is challenging to treat with prescribed medications.

This is a cause of concern, as there’s a high risk of prescription drug abuse in these patients. But approved nonprescription CBD products may help prevent this by being an alternative yet effective treatment for this condition.

Learn more: What’s known about CBD and knee pain?

8 Forms of CBD for knee pain

There are various CBD products available for chronic pain relief:

1) Full-spectrum

A CBD product labeled as full-spectrum means it contains all the natural compounds present in cannabis plants, including very small amounts of THC.

It should have 0.3 percent THC or less to comply with the recommendations of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Learn more: CBD vs THC for knee pain – what to choose?

2) Isolate

This type of product contains CBD only, no other compound present in the cannabis plant. It’s the purest available form and must contain 0% of THC to be labeled as such.

3) Broad-spectrum CBD

This falls between full-spectrum and isolate. It contains all the natural compounds in the cannabis plant without THC.

4) CBD-infused liquids (oil and tincture)

CBD oil is usually taken through the mouth, placed under the tongue, or absorbed through the skin. Whereas tinctures are mostly taken orally.

For knee problems, the oil form is preferable, as you can apply it directly to the joint. The effect will be localized.

Related: Can you put CBD oil directly on your knee?

5) Edibles

These come in the form of brownies, lollipops, or CBD gummies. Some contain full-spectrum while others use isolate only.

They are discreet and easy to use, but they may take longer to work compared to other forms, as they need to go through the digestive tract first.

Learn more: How long does it take for CBD to provide knee pain relief?

6) Topicals

Topical CBD products like creams, lotions, ointments, and patches are applied directly to the area. They are ideal for those who don’t want to ingest the compound. Also, for those that take other medications, to avoid unwanted interactions.

Certain brands of CBD cream infuse it with menthol or other substances to provide other effects.

7) Capsules

These are taken like any other supplement, making them easy to incorporate into your daily life. This form also provides more consistent dosing than its oil form, as each dose is premeasured.

However, similar to edibles, they have to go through the digestive system first, losing part of their potency in the process. They may also not be beneficial for immediate pain management as they need a few hours to work.

8) Vape juice

This is an inhaled form of CBD, which you consume with a vape pen. It has the fastest onset of action -less than 30 minutes- but may pose health risks such as lung injury. (8)

Dosage of CBD for knee arthritis pain

There are no established clinical guidelines regarding how much CBD is beneficial for chronic knee pain. Some studies have used a dosage of 5 mg while others have used as much as 600mg. (9)

Some rat studies found that 6.2mg/day was enough to provide relief. 10 times that dose -62.3mg/day- provided similar outcomes without notable side effects. (1)

The findings indicate that larger doses don’t necessarily mean a greater reduction in pain intensity. (1)

So, start with a low dose and see how your body responds to it.

To this end, it may be best to start with an oral treatment rather than inhaled products. It will be easier for you to control the dose while giving your body time to slowly absorb the CBD.

If you experience enough pain relief with the starting dose, then take half of it in the morning and the other half in the afternoon. This helps to maintain a steady level of CBD in the blood.

But if you don’t find relief with it, do small increments every week. Feeling unwanted side effects are a sign to lower the dosage or stop the supplement altogether.

Risks and side effects of CBD

Available clinical data suggest that CBD has a minimal risk of adverse events. But, common side effects include (5, 6):

  • Appetite changes.
  • Drowsiness or sleepiness.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Fatigue.
  • Alterations in the weight.
  • Dry mouth.
  • Liver problems (happen rarely and in patients with previous medical conditions).

These side effects also depend on the form of CBD you are taking.

For example, inhaled CBD reaches the blood faster than any other form, thereby increasing the risk of acute side effects.

Edibles need a longer time, delaying their side effects. While topical CBD products won’t fully enter the bloodstream, making for the safest form to prevent side effects.

With that said, risks are higher with products that are inaccurately labeled, have unreliable dosage, or are not pure.

That’s why you should always buy CBD from reputable companies.

They test every batch of the product for safety, potency, and purity. This ensures you’re getting what you’re paying for.

The brand should provide a certificate of analysis by an independent laboratory using the methods approved by any of these associations:

  • The U.S. Pharmacopeia (USP).
  • The American Herbal Pharmacopoeia (AHP).
  • The Association of Official Agricultural Chemists (AOAC).

CBD’s interactions with pain medications

CBD affects the body in a similar way as painkillers. This also means that taking cannabinoid products with medications like NSAIDs can increase the risk of side effects.

These interactions are worse with opioids, though. This was shown in a 2019 study, where researchers compared people using opioids alone with those who combined them with CBD to manage chronic pain.

Researchers reported that people using the combination had greater anxiety and depression, and were associated with substance abuse issues. (10, 11)

This suggests that not only using CBD with other painkillers doesn’t promote further pain reduction. It may cause severe psychological side effects.

That’s why it’s best to consult with your health care providers before taking CBD for knee problems if you are also using drugs such as:

  • Tramadol.
  • Naproxen.
  • Celecoxib.

FAQs

How do I treat knee arthritis with CBD cream?

By applying it to the affected area. This may aid with joint and muscle pain.

What is the best CBD for arthritis knee pain?

The oil form, because is long-lasting and can be taken in many forms – topical, oral, or sublingual.

Conclusion: Can CBD treat knee arthritis?

CBD can be a safe and useful option to treat joint pain and inflammation, as shown by animal and some human studies.

Unlike medical marijuana, it doesn’t have psychoactive effects. It can also improve sleep, reduce anxiety, and can be an effective alternative to other pain medications.

However, it’s important to know which form of CBD to take, as it determines how fast it relieves knee pain.

Resources

  1. Gusho, Charles A, and Tannor Court. “Cannabidiol: A Brief Review of Its Therapeutic and Pharmacologic Efficacy in the Management of Joint Disease.” Cureus vol. 12,3 e7375. 23 Mar. 2020.
  2. Hammell, D C et al. “Transdermal cannabidiol reduces inflammation and pain-related behaviors in a rat model of arthritis.”European journal of pain (London, England) vol. 20,6 (2016): 936-48.
  3. Philpott, Holly T et al. “Attenuation of early phase inflammation by cannabidiol prevents pain and nerve damage in rat osteoarthritis.” Pain vol. 158,12 (2017): 2442-2451.
  4. Schuelert, Niklas, and Jason J McDougall. “The abnormal cannabidiol analogue O-1602 reduces nociception in a rat model of acute arthritis via the putative cannabinoid receptor GPR55.” Neuroscience letters vol. 500,1 (2011): 72-6.
  5. Lowin, Torsten, et al. “Cannabidiol (CBD): a killer for inflammatory rheumatoid arthritis synovial fibroblasts.” Cell death & disease vol. 11,8 714. 1 Sep. 2020.
  6. “CBD for Arthritis Pain.” Arthritis Foundation. Retrieved from: https://www.arthritis.org/health-wellness/healthy-living/managing-pain/pain-relief-solutions/cbd-for-arthritis-pain.
  7. Capano, Alex et al. “Evaluation of the effects of CBD hemp extract on opioid use and quality of life indicators in chronic pain patients: a prospective cohort study.” Postgraduate medicine vol. 132,1 (2020): 56-61.
  8. Bruni, Natascia et al. “Cannabinoid Delivery Systems for Pain and Inflammation Treatment.” Molecules (Basel, Switzerland) vol. 23,10 2478. 27 Sep. 2018.
  9. Zhornitsky, Simon, and Stéphane Potvin. “Cannabidiol in humans-the quest for therapeutic targets.” Pharmaceuticals (Basel, Switzerland) vol. 5,5 529-52. 21 May. 2012.
  10. Rogers, Andrew H et al. “Opioid and Cannabis Co-Use among Adults With Chronic Pain: Relations to Substance Misuse, Mental Health, and Pain Experience.” Journal of addiction medicine vol. 13,4 (2019): 287-294.
  11. Ujváry, István, and Lumír Hanuš. “Human Metabolites of Cannabidiol: A Review on Their Formation, Biological Activity, and Relevance in Therapy.” Cannabis and cannabinoid research vol. 1,1 90-101. 1 Mar. 2016.

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Author
Sony Sherpa (MD)
Sony Sherpa is a board-certified clinical doctor and currently, she is working as a medical officer in the emergency department of a renowned hospital. With a medical degree completed at a young age, she writes medical articles with accuracy owing to her medical knowledge and thorough background research.

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