Symptoms and Diagnosis
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic autoimmune inflammatory disease. It is characterized by affecting multiple joints simultaneously and by the presentation of diverse general non-specific symptoms and manifestations in other parts of the body. Without proper treatment, in its advanced phases, the disease can result in major physical limitations and a marked deterioration in quality of life.
RA is typically manifested through pain, swelling and stiffness or difficulty in moving different large and small joints. In some cases, the joints affected follow a characteristic pattern. The general symptoms, which sometimes precede manifestations of the disease in the joints and tend to persist throughout its development, basically include general tiredness, malaise, slight fever, loss of appetite and loss of weight. Extra-articular manifestations —which normally occur after the disease is fully established— mainly affect the skin, blood vessels, heart, lungs, eyes and blood.
The most frequent initial symptom is morning stiffness (especially in the joints of the hands and feet), experienced after night-time rest. This entails considerable difficulty in moving the joints accompanied by pain. Morning stiffness may be accompanied by tiredness, fever, loss of appetite and muscle weakness (which sometimes appear weeks or months before the pain) as well as indications of inflammation of the joints — swelling, warmth and redness of the affected joints.
Flare-ups are common with RA. Flare-ups normally last a few weeks or even months. During flare-ups, the joints affected become swollen and hot and are painful and difficult to move, especially on waking in the morning. Without proper treatment, these flare-ups tend to become more frequent and longer-lasting. As a result, the affected joints gradually lose mobility, with the appearance of very characteristic deformities which distinguish RA from other forms of arthritis.
It’s important for RA patients to manage their condition, so many are looking for safer and more affordable alternatives. Using medical-cannabis (specifically CBD & THC) for rheumatoid arthritis is an all-natural treatment that has been shown to improve some of the symptoms associated with the disorder. An added benefit is that it lacks many adverse side effects found in traditional RA medications.
Those using medical-cannabis for rheumatoid arthritis have seen excellent results, including:
Less need for other forms of medication
Research studies in this field show scientific evidence that cannabis is an effective therapy for arthritis and, more specifically, RA. Medical-Cannabis has proven pain-relieving properties. It can be used by itself or in combination with other painkillers, safely and effectively controlling the pain caused by RA. One of the core symptoms of arthritis is inflammation. There is both research and anecdotal evidence that medical-cannabis (specifically CBD and THC) acts as an anti-inflammatory. This gives RA patients relief from inflamed joints.
The endocannabinoid system controls the general homeostasis of every person, and acts as a bridge between our body and our mind. Certain conditions, like arthritis, cause our endocannabinoid system to be completely imbalanced. CBD and THC found in medical-cannabis target cannabinoid receptors present in the synovium of joints, bringing targeted relief from painful symptoms.
RA Symptoms Treated by Cannabinoids
The cannabinoid compounds tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) have proven medical properties. Among these is pain relief. Certain strains of medical-cannabis can target pain and bring much-needed relief.
Multiple cannabinoids in medical-cannabis work to reduce inflammation. These include CBD and THC, as well as CBC, CBDa, CBG, CBN and THCa.
Because of chronic pain and the general malaise caused by RA, fatigue is a common symptom in many patients. The Indica strain of medical-cannabis is known for its sleep-inducing properties. A well-rested patient is far more likely to have a better chance of remission.
If patients are in the midst of an RA flare-up, they may also suffer from feelings of anxiety and depression. The chronic nature of the disorder can cause patients to feel hopeless. CBD and THC is shown to relieve both anxiety and depression and give patients an improved outlook on life.
CBD & THC Treatment Methods
Inhalation (smoking, vaping): Takes effect immediately and lasts 2-4 hours. This is a great choice for instant relief and for treating breakthrough pain (a flare-up in pain when you’re already taking longer-acting cannabis products). You can also layer inhaled medical-cannabis with a longer-acting method to help get you through the night.
Sublingual (placed under the tongue): Sublingual administration can provide rapid relief. Cannabinoids are fat-soluble and, in their natural state, do not absorb well into the oral mucosa. A true sublingual (a product in which the cannabinoids are formulated to be more water-soluble) absorbs rapidly into the mouth. The effects can be perceived in 15-20 minutes and can last 4-6 hours.
Edibles (gummies, capsules): Edibles take effect in between 30 minutes and 2 hours. You’ll feel their effects between 5-8 hours. They provide a discreet, portable long-acting option.
Topicals (creams, salves): Topicals provide short-term localized relief. They can take effect within minutes, and may last for up to an hour.
Recommended Treatment Options
Most medical-cannabis physicians that we have personally consulted recommend a ratio of CBD to THC. The reason for this is to maximize the combined benefits of CBD and THC. Additionally, medium to large doses of CBD will counteract the psychoactive component of THC. Below is a chart published by Leaf411, a medical-cannabis network, which provides the most common ratios of CBD to THC.