What you should know about CBD for joint inflammation
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Over the last few years, CBD has seen a rise in popularity as people become more interested in alternatives to traditional medicine. Some of the more well-known problems that CBD has been found to help treat include anxiety, sleep, and running injuries. Although the effects of CBD use is an area of research that has not been fully formed (and is evolving at a rapid pace), there is strong evidence suggesting its efficacy in combating severe and chronic illnesses. For instance, recent studies have found that the use of CBD can assist with inflammation.
What is inflammation?
Inflammation is one of the body’s immune responses and is a naturally occurring protective mechanism to shield the body from harm. There are two primary kinds of inflammation: acute and chronic. Acute inflammation is typically the result of an injury, illness, or infection. It is an appropriate response to actual harm. The immune system unleashes cells to protect the affected area, which causes redness and swelling. This type of inflammation is needed in order to ensure that the body is being safeguarded against harmful external elements. On the other hand, chronic inflammation occurs when the inflammatory response is prolonged. This can be extremely taxing on the body. In the worst case, it can damage vital tissue and organs.
It is important to understand that inflammation is not inherently pathogenic unless the inflammatory response lingers or becomes chronic. Chronic inflammation is usually caused by untreated acute inflammation, such as an infection or injury. Autoimmune disorders like type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, Psoriatic arthritis, and multiple sclerosis, can cause chronic inflammatory responses. Also, long-term exposure to irritants like polluted air or chemicals could play a factor. However, you needn’t have a compromised immune system to be susceptible to chronic inflammation. Experts believe that chronic inflammatory inflammation can also arise from factors like smoking, obesity, alcohol consumption, and chronic stress.
Why does joint inflammation happen?
When the immune system isn’t functioning properly, it releases an inflammatory response in the form of immune cells to protect the body. Immune cells, called macrophages, produce free radicals while fighting off invading germs. These free radicals can damage healthy cells, which leads to inflammation. Under normal circumstances, inflammation dissipates after the immune system defeats the infection or repairs the damaged tissue. However, when an immune response is triggered by chronic inflammation, free radicals are produced more frequently, which can signal a threat to the immune system and initiate a prolonged inflammatory response. This is the cyclical nature of chronic inflammation.
Joint pain is often a symptom of chronic inflammation that is caused by the aforementioned autoimmune disorders. The condition is characterized by pain, swelling, tenderness, and warmth in the joints, as well as morning stiffness that lasts for longer than an hour. Since joints are found all over the body—your feet, ankles, knees, hips, arms to name a few—this can impact many areas. Joints are cushioned by soft tissue, and swelling occurs when fluid accumulates in these tissues.
Traditional treatment options for inflammation
Treatment options will vary depending on the cause of the inflammation. This is why it is crucial to see a healthcare practitioner when you notice the issue, rather than attempt to diagnose yourself and potentially administer the wrong treatment. When you see your doctor, they will likely begin by asking questions about your medical history and the symptoms you are experiencing. For instance, they will need to know when your joint swelling began or when you noticed it, where the swelling has occurred, the areas that are painful, and the severity of the pain and swelling. Your doctor will want to examine the affected joints and may order tests like a blood test, an X-Ray, or a joint aspiration (which is a test in which your doctor uses a needle to draw fluid from the joint in order for it to be analyzed in a lab).
Cold compress for injury
If the doctor finds that your joint inflammation was caused by an injury, the treatment plan is clear-cut and easy to follow. Simply wrap an ice pack or cold pack in a cloth or towel and apply it to the affected area for 10-minute increments. Apply compression to the joint by attaching the ice pack to the joint with a bandage or by pressing it into your joint. When you’re resting be sure to elevate the joint. Your doctor may suggest that you should avoid putting extra strain on the joint while your body heals. However, it’s important to ask when you are able to begin using it again. This is because the body requires mobilization so that the joint’s range of motion doesn’t deteriorate over time.
If you are diagnosed with a chronic condition the treatment will be more complex, so be sure to follow your doctor’s treatment plan. This may include medication, physical therapy, and other treatments to help reduce the pain and regain the health of your joints. Some of the options that have been explored for managing chronic inflammation include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), steroids, and supplements. NSAIDs are over-the-counter pain medication including aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen, which help reduce inflammation and relieve pain. However, long-term use of these drugs has been linked to risks of several health conditions including peptic ulcer disease and kidney disease. Steroids, on the other hand, not only decrease the inflammation but can suppress the immune system. This will help with the chronic nature of this problem. However, some of the risks associated with steroid use include high blood pressure, loss of vision, and osteoporosis. If your doctor prescribes steroids to you, they will weigh the benefits in relation to your pain and discomfort. In regard to supplements, there are studies that have been conducted which link certain supplements like fish oil (Omega-3 fatty acids), lipoic acid, and curcumin to decreased inflammation.
Finally, never underestimate the power of a healthy diet. There are several foods with anti-inflammatory properties that are high in antioxidants and polyphenols that can easily be incorporated into meals. Some of these food items include olive oil, leafy greens like kale and spinach, tomatoes, fatty fish (salmon, sardines, and mackerel), nuts and fruits like oranges, cherries, and blueberries.
Why try CBD for inflammation?
CBD can either be used as an alternative to traditional treatment, or it can supplement the treatment. Not only can CBD be used for pain relief, but it is also a non-inflammatory agent. This means that once an immune response is initiated, immune cells cluster in specific locations and begin to cause inflammation, CBD can migrate the immune cells in order to combat that inflammation. Because of its anti-inflammatory properties, CBD has been shown to protect the heart from inflammation induced vascular damage.
Does CBD oil for joint inflammation work?
Research on the effects on CBD in animals suggests that when CBD interacts with the immune system via the ECS, the result is reduced inflammation and pain. For instance, in 2016, a study published in Clinical Hemorheology and Microcirculation analyzed the potential for CBD to be a treatment for early pancreatic inflammation in diabetic mice. The mice that received the treatment developed diabetes later than the ones that didn’t receive it. Furthermore, the mice that received the treatment saw reduced immune-cell activity. Another 2017 study in the journal Pain examined the effects of CBD in male rats with osteoarthritis and found that within two weeks, the inflammation was reduced by topical CBD treatment applied to the area. This method of administration was also linked to the prevention of potential nerve damage and joint pain. A 2015 review published in Bioorganic and Medicinal Chemistry explored CBD’s anti-inflammatory properties. The researchers found that CBD reduces inflammation through several pathways and is effective as an anti-inflammatory agent.
How to use CBD for joint pain
Topical CBD products come in varying forms, such as creams, balms, or salves. They can assist in reducing pain and discomfort in targeted areas. It is best to start off by applying the product in a small amount on one area, and gradually increasing your dose as is necessary. Simply rub the product onto the affected area. Another CBD product that those experiencing joint inflammation find beneficial is CBD oil. If consumed sublingually, this method can take effect within 15 minutes. Sublingual administration generates a higher bioavailability, meaning the effects of the CBD will be more potent. However, unlike the localized nature of topical CBD, CBD oil will be distributed throughout your body.
The bottom line is that chronic inflammation puts you at risk for several serious illnesses and can have a detrimental effect on your quality of life. Medication and supplements can certainly help reduce the pain and decrease the inflammation; however, given the chronic nature of this illness, the medication would have to be taken continuously in order to keep the inflammation at bay. As outlined above, this use of traditional medication can have a harmful effect on your health over time. For this reason, one positive approach may incorporate more natural treatment plans to mitigate issues that might arise from sticking to one form of treatment. As always, it is absolutely necessary to consult with your doctor if you are experiencing the symptoms for chronic inflammation so that they are able to devise a treatment plan that is right for you.