Introduction: An estimated 54 million Americans currently suffer from debilitating arthritis. Patients who have exhausted conservative measures can be subject to chronic pain and resort to symptomatic management with anti-inflammatories, acetaminophen, and opioids. Cannabidiol (CBD) is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid that has shown promise in preclinical studies to reduce inflammation and pain associated with arthritis. The purpose of this study was to explore patient perceived effects of cannabidiol on symptoms of arthritis.
Methods: A novel anonymous questionnaire was created to evaluate perceived efficacy of cannabidiol for the treatment of arthritis. A self-selected convenience sample (N=428) was recruited through online methods including social media accounts and newsletters (The Arthritis Foundation and Savvy Cooperative) between May 5, 2020, and November 5, 2020. Statistical analysis was performed to determine differences between types of arthritis and improvements in quality-of-life symptoms. Furthermore, a regression analysis was performed to identify variables associated with decreasing or discontinuing other medications.
Results: CBD use was associated with improvements in pain (83%), physical function (66%), and sleep quality (66%). Subgroup analysis by diagnosis type (osteoarthritis, rheumatoid, or other autoimmune arthritis) found improvements among groups for physical function (P=0.013), favoring the osteoarthritis group. The overall cohort reported a 44% reduction in pain after CBD use (P<0.001). The osteoarthritis group had a greater percentage reduction (P=0.020) and point reduction (P<0.001) in pain compared to rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune arthritis. The majority of respondents reported a reduction or cessation of other medications after CBD use (N=259, 60.5%): reductions in anti-inflammatories (N=129, 31.1%), acetaminophen (N=78, 18.2%), opioids (N=36, 8.6%) and discontinuation of anti-inflammatories (N=76, 17.8%), acetaminophen (N=76, 17.8%), and opioids (N=81, 18.9%).
Conclusion: Clinicians and patients should be aware of the various alternative therapeutic options available to treat their symptoms of arthritis, especially in light of the increased accessibility to cannabidiol products. The present study found associations between CBD use and improvements in patient's arthritis symptoms and reductions in other medications. Future research should focus on exploring the benefits of CBD use in this patient population with clinical trials.
Keywords: Arthritis treatment; CBD arthritis; CBD for pain; CBD research; Cannabidiol; Cannabis medicine; Orthopedic surgery.
© 2022. The Author(s).