What is arthritis?
Arthritis is a word used to describe the pain, swelling and stiffness in a joint or joints. There are currently 10 million people in the UK who suffer from arthritis. The condition can affect people of all ages, even teenagers, yet some forms of arthritis are more common in older people.
There are many different types of arthritis, some more common than others. Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis (RA) are two of the most common forms of arthritis.
Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis. Around 8.75 million people in the UK have sought medical advice about osteoarthritis. In the early ages of OA people often experience little to no pain. This can lead to damage inside a joint as well as pain and stiffness. Osteoarthritis is more common in women typically from the age of 45 onwards. The knees, hands, hips and back are the most common body parts affected by Osteoarthritis.
Rheumatoid Arthritis is a type of inflammatory arthritis, also known as an autoimmune condition. The immune system is the body’s natural self-defence system which protects us from infections and illnesses.
When someone has an autoimmune condition, the body’s immune system attacks the healthy tissue in the body. For example, the joints, which then causes inflammation.
Rheumatoid arthritis often starts in the small joints of the hands and feet. It often starts slow and then over time gets worse or in some cases it can start more aggressively.
Rheumatoid arthritis can affect adults of any age, however it is more common with people between 40-60 and is more common in women than men.
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Often one of the main causes of arthritis is genetics – if someone’s family has a history of arthritis then they are more likely to have it as well. However, there are other causes. Cartilage is a connective tissue found in your joints. The cartilage is firm but flexible and protects the joints by absorbing the pressure and shock created when a person moves. The cause of arthritis is when there is a reduction in the normal amount of cartilage in a joint.
Normal wear and tear causes osteoarthritis; an infection or injury to the joints may aggravate the natural breakdown of cartilage tissue.
Rheumatoid arthritis occurs when the body’s immune system attacks healthy tissues of the body. These attacks can then damage the soft tissue in the joints. This soft tissue produces a fluid that nourishes the cartilage and lubricates the joints.
For arthritis the treatments main goal is to reduce the amount of pain a person experiences and to prevent further damage to the joint. Some people find using heating pads and ice packs to be soothing, however in most cases people opt for medication.
There are number of different types of medication to treat arthritis;
Analgesics (painkillers) are one example; they are effective for pain management. However, they don’t help decrease the inflammation caused.
Some side effects of using analgesics may include:
• upset stomach
• skin itching or rash
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen and aspirin can help to control pain and inflammation, but NSAIDs may increase your chances of having a heart attack or stroke. All NSAIDs can inflame the stomach and in some cases result in a stomach bleed.
Despite the effectiveness of some of the medications more and more people are looking for an alternative method of treatment to help with pain management of arthritis. One of these alternative methods is using CBD.
CBD and arthritis
Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of many compounds found in the cannabis plant that belong to a class of substances call cannabinoids. As CBD is a non-psychoactive, you will not get high but reap the benefits of CBD instead.
The Endocannabinoid system (ECS)
The human body has its own system for creating and processing its own cannabinoids. This system is the endocannabinoid system (ECS)
The ECS helps to fine-tune most of our vital physiological functions. Simply, the ECS helps to regulate and harmonise all the major body systems making sure all or vital organs work well with one another. The ECS involves functions like appetite, pain modulation, digestion, reproduction, motor learning, stress and memory.
A good way to explain ECS is that if you imagine the body like a machine, each system works together to keep the machine moving. The immune system is a like a filtration system, the brain is like the motherboard, and endocannabinoids help to maintain these systems.
As with any machine, whether it be a result of poor maintenance, damage, or natural ageing our body parts and systems can deteriorate and malfunction. When this happens, it affects the entire body and can lead to various health problems.
How can CBD help Arthritis and associated Pain?
One of the main contributors to the pain and discomfort from arthritis is the swelling in the joints. As CBD is a natural anti-inflammatory, research has shown that it helps in relieving arthritis pain and inflammation. There have been many studies to show that CBD is a promising alternative method by decreasing both joint inflammation and served as a protectant to the nerves.
Because CBD has a natural relaxing effect on the muscles and therefore relieves the pain associated with muscle contraction. This has a general effect on the tension in the body that exacerbates the pain in Arthritis.