Joint pain can be caused by a variety of factors. You could be suffering from arthritis, or you could have a sports injury. Either way, there’s no doubt that this pain makes life a little (or a lot) harder. Mobility is something that so many of us take for granted. That is, until it is taken from away or limited. Joint health is crucial in leading a happy, pain-free life. But why is it so important to keep joints in mind when considering overall health? If you have joint pain, is there a natural option for treatment? Pain medications can be a little scary for many and though keeping your joints moving can help them stay healthy, sometimes movement is just too painful. Cannabis has been proven to help joint pain naturally and effectively, which could broaden the options for those seeking relief.
By definition, a joint is a space where two bones are attached. This helps the body to move. The bones are connected at the joint by connective tissue and cartilage. There are several different types of joints that are categorized by their motion. These types of joints include:
Ball-and-socket: This type of joint has been appropriately named. It includes joints such as your hips and shoulders. The shoulder and hip joints are literally ball-shaped, while the other side is shaped like a cup. The ball fits right into the cup-like socket. These are the most movable joints in the body with a bigger range of motion.
Hinge joint: These joints include the ankle, elbow and knee joints. These joints only move along one axis. The simplest of these joints are in between the fingers which allow you to make a fist or curl your toes, along with holding your hands and feet out flat.
Condyloid joint: These joints include the hands, wrists and some bones in the foot. They help with lifting, pointing and extending the toes, as well as wagging your finger from side to side and circling with your finger.
Pivot joint: These joints include the neck and elbow. One bone moves on another in a right to left motion. Others similar joints include the legs, arms and spinal vertebrae which also appear to pivot in the same way. These, however, are not true pivot joints.
Gliding joint: These joints are known as gliding joints or planer joints. These joints allow a gliding motion between bones such as within the wrists, ankles, foot and AC joints in the shoulders. There is also a set of gliding joints between the breastbone and ribs and one between the vertebrae and ribs. This allows a range of motion for the ribs to move with the lungs as you breathe.
Saddle joint: A saddle joint looks a lot like how it sounds. It resembled a saddle-shaped joint on one side with the other side riding on it like a person riding a horse. The thumb is the best example of a saddle joint.
With so many joints throughout our body, it’s no wonder that joint and bone health is so vital for overall good health. Without the mobility of our joints, things like exercise and everyday tasks get thrown by the wayside. Exercise is crucial in maintaining healthy bones and joints, which is why staying mobile is important in preventing joint pain. Often, joint pain will occur when there is friction on the surface of the joints. Fluid is naturally present in most joints, and when the joints move, the fluid is forced out. This means that joints are naturally self-lubricating so long as they get moved regularly. Stationary lifestyles can lead to dehydrated and non-lubricated joints which will become stiff and painful.
Some tips on how to prevent joint damage include:
Keep moving: If you sit at a desk all day, this probably isn’t doing your joints any favors. Getting up to stretch and move around once in a while can help ward off stiffness. Exercise is a basic rule of thumb for any health plan, and your joints are no exception. If you don’t keep moving, your joints won’t either. This doesn’t mean that you have to start Crossfit anytime soon, but even taking a walk or doing yoga can help keep your joints healthy and lubricated. Also, doing a little strength training can give your joints more support. Exercise can also help to keep your body at a healthy weight. Taking off some extra pounds can help to relieve stress on your hips, knees, and back.
Stay safe: Skating or doing any sort of contact sports can put your joints at risk. Wearing protective gear such as knee and elbow pads can help to protect your joints from impact. If you are already experiencing pain, a wrist brace while you play sports such as tennis or golf could help your joints from experiencing more pain.
Stretch, but not too much: Stretching is great for keeping your body flexible and can help you to not pull a muscle. But stretching when your body hasn’t warmed up could damage your joints. Doing a light warm-up before you stretch can help you loosen up and avoid any injuries.
Don’t overdo it: If you think that a certain exercise feels a little too much, don’t risk it. The “no pain, no gain” attitude only takes you so far before you may be doing more harm than good. Pace yourself when working on a new exercise routine. Staying active is important for protecting your joints, but you can have too much of a good thing. Physical therapists may be needed if an injury or illness is present. They can give you a good idea of what your body can handle.
Eat for joint health: Foods high in omega-3 such as fish can help lower inflammation in joints. Calcium and vitamin D are also important for keeping your bones strong, so dairy and leafy vegetables may just become a staple in your diet if you’re looking to improve bone and joint health.
Straighten up: Your mother was onto something when she told you to sit up straight. A straight posture while sitting or standing can help to protect your joints.
The top reason for keeping your joints and bones healthy is simple: mobility. Humans weren’t meant to sit in one place for very long, and our joints prove this point. Gaining weight shouldn’t be our only concern when we don’t stay active. Stiff and aching joints are a real threat when we don’t get our bodies in motion or neglect our diet. Our bodies are like machines; if we let them sit, they’ll rust. We must keep them well lubricated and maintained to keep them functioning to their fullest.
To learn about ways to discover pain relief, view Periodic Limb Movement Disorder and Other Issues Affecting Large Parts of the Body.
The causes of joint pain are many and can range from arthritis to the flu. Though many different illnesses can cause joint pain, a few common causes are:
Arthritis: Arthritis is one of the most common and well-known causes of joint pain. There are two main forms of arthritis: Osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA). OA is the result of the cartilage between the joints breaking down. This means that instead of having a cushion between the joints to absorb shock and provide lubrication, there is friction between the joints. RA affects women more than men and can deform the joints. This causes pain and inflammation as the immune system actually attacks the lining of the joints.
Bursitis: Bursae are the fluid-filled sacs that are around your bones, tendons and muscles to cushion impact. Bursitis is when these sacs become inflamed. This typically will happen around the shoulder, elbow and hip, although you can also have bursitis in your knees, heels and big toes. This can happen when that particular joint is worked frequently in the same way. This usually goes away in a few weeks, but flare-ups may occur every now and then.
Gout: This is a form of arthritis that involves excess uric acid. These flare-ups can come and go suddenly and can even wake you up in the middle of the night. The joint will often feel swollen, tender and hot to the touch. Even the slightest amount of weight can cause chronic pain.
Lyme disease: This disease is transmitted from deer ticks and is caused by several different species of bacteria: Borrelia burgdorferi, Borrelia mayonii, Borrelia afzelii and Borreli garnii bacteria. Once bitten, a small red bump appears at the site of the bite. This usually disappears within a few days and doesn’t mean that you have Lyme disease. However, a rash 3 to 30 days after the bite and flu-like symptoms such as fever, chills, tiredness and body aches are all sign that you may have contracted Lyme disease. Weeks and even months after the bite you may still experience symptoms such as neurological problems and joint pain. This is most likely to affect the knees, but it can travel from one joint to another.
Overuse: Sprains and strains are common when overusing your joints. A sprain can happen when the ligaments are overstretched or torn. The most common place for this to happen is in the ankle. A strain is where the muscle or tendon is overstretched or torn, which often happens in the back or thigh.
Though some of these joint issues can be avoided with a healthy diet and exercise, some just happen. Joint pain can be unavoidable at certain times in our life and at that point, what we really need is relief. Often this relief comes, unfortunately, in pain pill form.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin and ibuprofen are usually readily available in most medicine cabinets. If these medications don’t cut the pain then opioids may be prescribed.
But is this really what we want for our bodies?
Opioids are highly addictive and have some serious side effects attached to them. The opioid epidemic speaks volumes for this drug’s dangerous qualities, and our bodies deserve much better. At the same time, NSAID drugs come with their own set of side effects, including heart risks.
Many times our body is simply lacking in vital nutrients, or perhaps is injured. Though pain relief is necessary to properly heal, pain is also our body’s way of telling us that something is wrong or deficient. Whether that be tension, inflammation or infection, healing our body as opposed to masking the effects is pertinent to keeping our joints healthy. It’s important to remember that our bodies are natural beings and are not deficient in opioids or Advil, but in natural substances.
Natural remedies can help us to better address the core issue of our joint pain, and prevent more damage from happening.
If you want to learn more of the truth of CBD oil, check out What is CBD oil used for? Separating fact from fiction about CBD oil
Many of the same ways to prevent joint pain can help in relieving existing pain as well. Losing weight and getting more exercise can all aid in relieving your joint pain by helping you to improve your overall health. Improving mobility and losing weight can also help to prevent more damage to your joints.
Some other ways to relieve joint pain include:
Massage: The Arthritis Foundation supports getting regular massaging to joints to help relieve joint pain. This can help with stiffness and improve your range of motion.
Acupuncture: This ancient Chinese treatment sounds crazy, but it works for many people. Thin needles are inserted into certain points on the body to help reroute energies and restore balance which can relieve pain. This treatment has become so popular in the medical world that even the World Health Organization recommends it for over 100 conditions.
Meditation: Relaxing is important for dealing with pain. Studies have shown that mindfulness meditation can help to reduce pain in joints. When stress is reduced, inflammation and swelling go down as well.
Hot and cold therapy: It’s no secret that hot and cold compresses can help ease pain in a big way. A warm bath can help your joints and muscles relax. A heating pad can help to keep joints from getting stiff as well. Cold therapy is best for swelling and inflammation. An ice pack can aid in relieving joint pain quickly and effectively.
Herbal supplements: Some herbal supplements can help to reduce pain in your joints. Herbs such as ginkgo, ginger, devil’s claw and boswellia are all effective in helping with joint pain. However, always discuss with your doctor what supplements may work best for you.
These are all healthier options for treating your joint pain and can be very effective. However, one natural, plant-based substance is becoming increasingly popular for treating joint pain and inflammation.
Many people are starting to use cannabis as a way to fight their pain, and for some, it has become like a miracle drug.
For more information on how to naturally treat your joint pain, read Is CBD Effective for Treating Joint Pain?
The cannabis plants have over 100 different cannabinoids. Of these cannabinoids are two that have gained popularity in health care: cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). These two cannabinoids have been recognized for relieving a variety of illnesses such as epilepsy, Crohn’s disease and even inflammation. Pain relief is one such effect that these cannabinoids have to offer. Those who suffer from arthritis and other types of pain may find relief in taking marijuana.
But how does cannabis work with the body to actually help?
Within the body is a large network of receptors called the endocannabinoid system, which is made up of CB1 and CB2 receptors. In this system there are many cell receptors that can influence various functions. These include immune system, mood, sleep, appetite and pain. The cannabinoids in the cannabis plant interact, and in the case of THC, even bind with the receptors of the endocannabinoid system. The body itself produces what are called endocannabinoids, which are the body’s naturally occurring cannabinoids, as the cannabis plant naturally produces phytocannabinoids. When CBD and THC enter the body, they interact with the endocannabinoid system much in the same way as the body’s natural endocannabinoids.
THC has earned a name for itself by being the psychotropic compound in marijuana. In short, it can get you high. However, CBD does not have this effect. Though both THC and CBD come from the same plant, they have different ways of interacting with the brain. Both chemical compounds, however, seem to hold some pain fighting properties.
A study from the University of South Carolina found that THC could be a viable option for treatment in autoimmune disorders such as lupus and arthritis. This is largely due to the fact that THC has shown to interact with the immune system and deactivate inflammatory proteins.
Another study done back in 2003 showed that CBD could be helpful for arthritis treatment as well. This study took rats who had an arthritis-like condition and injected them with inflammation inducing compounds. They then orally administered CBD. They found that over the course of three days the CBD continually decreased the inflammation.
Another interesting find was in a study in 2013. It was found that those with rheumatoid arthritis had more CB2 receptors than those with other types of arthritis. The CB2 receptors are responsible for controlling inflammation. In RA, the body can’t seem to control inflammation properly, leading to inflamed and painful joints.
But the discoveries don’t stop there. In yet another trial from 2010, researchers discovered that a little as three puffs of marijuana a day helped to alleviate joint pain in arthritis patients.
This evidence is astounding, and it doesn’t stop there. Personal accounts may not be as official as clinical trials, but they certainly should be taken into account.
Actress Pam St Clement, who starred in the soap opera EastEnders announced that cannabis has nipped her arthritis in the bud. She uses the non-psychotropic compound of CBD to control her arthritic pain. St Clement says:
“Taking this oil has changed my life. I am no longer in pain. My joints are no longer stiff, I sleep better, almost jump out of bed and walk longer distances – all things I could never have dreamed six weeks ago.”
Pam rubs CBD-infused lotion on her back, which she claims relieves her pain and inflammation.
Unfortunately, cannabis is classified by the federal government as a Schedule I drug. This means that, according to the feds, this plant is highly addictive and has no medical value. The basis of this argument is, of course flimsy at best, as the restrictions of the substance are ridiculously strict, making it extremely difficult to even conduct research. Despite this harsh restriction, some research has been conducted and has shown numerous times the anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties that this plant contains.
Knowing that cannabis can be an effective pain reliever leads us to question: why hasn’t this medicinal substance become more popular? With the opioid epidemic on the rise, and more people falling victim to the adverse effects of pain relievers, cannabis could very well be a safer option. The leading physician in charge of the Ontario Chapter of Marijuana for Trauma, Mr. Mike Hart, explains that:
Cannabis is much more effective and safer long-term solution than opioids. The science is clear and demonstrates that cannabis is far safer than opioids. In fact, it’s not even close. Opioids have killed more people than all illegal drugs combined, while cannabis has never killed a single person
If this is true, then keeping cannabis out of the hands of those who desperately need it sounds almost cruel. In arthritis suffers alone, joint pain plagues 53 million Americans. That isn’t even counting those who have extensive wear and tear on their joints or those with joint injuries or who have lyme disease. In short, there is a reason why opioid pain relievers can spawn an entire epidemic: people are in pain. This means that people are in need of a safe and effective pain reliever. Cannabis could be that solution, if only we’d get past the idea that it’s a dangerous drug, and move forward knowing that its potential in health care is extremely promising.
If you are suffering from joint pain and are looking for an alternative pain relief, ask your doctor if a cannabis product might be right for you. As always, check your state laws before purchasing and consuming marijuana products.