Every day, MyAccess Clinics’ team of trained and experienced specialists help countless patients manage their health and wellbeing. Our patients come to us with a variety of concerns, one of which is arthritis.

Arthritis sufferers have often spent years trying to find relief from chronic pain with little success. The 2018 legalisation of medical cannabis in the UK opened up a new possible way of helping to treat pain. Since then, many patients have used medical cannabis for arthritis to help manage their painful and debilitating symptoms.

Arthritis explained

Arthritis is technically not a condition in itself; it’s a term used to describe a number of different joint diseases. There are over 100 different types of arthritis, each of which affect the body in different ways.

The symptoms of arthritis are broadly the same; swelling, pain, stiffness of the joints, and decreased range of motion. For people with particularly severe cases of arthritis, the disease can also cause extreme tiredness and weight loss.

Given the many types of arthritis, there is no one cause for the disease. Most forms of arthritis come about due to the immune system attacking itself, which tends to come down to a genetic fault. Other risk factors that increase the likelihood of a person developing arthritis include:

  • Age
  • Gender — rheumatoid arthritis, for example, more commonly affects women.
  • Weight — obesity puts added stress on joints, exacerbating your risk
  • Injury — injuring a joint increases your risk of developing arthritis later in life
  • Lifestyle — if your profession (or a hobby) involves repetitive joint movements, you can increase the likelihood of developing arthritis
  • Smoking

Common types of arthritis include:

Osteoarthritis: Also known as “wear and tear” arthritis, osteoarthritis tends to affect older people and is linked to joint overuse. As we age, the amount of cartilage covering the ends of our bones decreases, making joint movement very painful.

Rheumatoid arthritis: Rheumatoid arthritis is a common type of autoimmune disease. The immune system attacks the joints, leading to painful swelling in affected areas. It is not known what causes the body to behave in this way.

Psoriatic arthritis: Psoriasis is a common skin condition that causes patchy, raised, red bumps to appear throughout the body, particularly on the elbows and knees. A small percentage of people diagnosed with psoriasis will also develop psoriatic arthritis, which causes joint swelling.

How does medical cannabis work?

Medical cannabis, also known as cannabis-based products for medicinal use (CBPMs), was legalised in the United Kingdom in 2018. However, its use in a medical context far precedes this time, having been used to treat diseases and chronic disorders as far back as 2700 BC.

Medical cannabis is very different to cannabis you might purchase on the street. It is grown and cultivated under strict, regulated conditions, and is free from harmful contaminants. The cannabis plant contains over 100 different types of cannabinoids, two of which are commonly used in medicine — delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). Each of these has a different effect on the body.

Cannabinoids in general, work by interacting with the endocannabinoid system, a complex and comprehensive signalling system that regulates cognitive function, inflammation, blood pressure, and digestion. 

Medical cannabis and arthritis

Arthritis is a chronic pain condition that has no fixed cure. It can cause painful symptoms, such as joint swelling, which often seem to arise from nowhere. While there are certain therapies and lifestyle changes a patient can make to reduce the severity of their symptoms, many people find little to no relief from pain.

Medical cannabis for arthritis can help manage these painful symptoms. The cannabinoid THC, in particular, is commonly used to help treat neuropathic pain and inflammation. THC acts on our CB1 and CB2 receptors, two G protein-coupled receptors that are found all throughout the body as part of the endocannabinoid system. CB2 receptors are thought to play an important role in pain modulation and inflammation. By acting on these receptors, THC inhibits the release of glutamate, reducing pain signals to the brain and slowing the release of proinflammatory substances from mast cells. 

Many of MyAccess Clinics’ patients come to us suffering from painful chronic conditions, such as arthritis. They have tried countless other treatment options and therapies without success. If you believe being prescribed medical cannabis for arthritis could help you, we encourage you to make yourself familiar with the eligibility requirements on our website. If you meet the prerequisites to make a consultation, our highly-qualified and compassionate specialists will be available to discuss possible treatment options and decide whether medical cannabis for arthritis will be of benefit to you.