Survey finds medical cannabis helps relieve pain in over 90% of arthritis patients

A new study has found anecdotal evidence that medical cannabis, including CBD, is helping relieve pain in arthritis sufferers.

CreakyJoints, a part of the nonprofit Global Healthy Living Foundation, conducted a survey of more than 1,000 arthritis patients to “delve deeper into their usage of cannabis and CBD.”

In research presented at the 2019 Annual European Congress of Rheumatology (EULAR) meeting in Madrid, Spain, CreakyJoints presented 1,059 patients with arthritis a 77-item survey to delve deeper into their usage of marijuana and CBD.

The average age of respondents was 57, with the “vast majority” being female. Patients surveyed were longtime sufferers of arthritis; the average time since they were diagnosed was 14 years.

Most patients surveyed had either rheumatoid arthritis (46%) or osteoarthritis (22%). Others had psoriatic arthritis, fibromyalgia, and ankylosing spondylitis.

Most patients (77%) reported being in “fair/poor health” (based on a standardised survey instrument), with only 29% reported that they were “satisfied” with their current treatment plan, indicating a potential failure in conventional medications’ ability to adequately help patients live a more normal life.

Potentially due to patient dissatisfaction with their current treatment plan, over half (57%) of those surveyed had tried medical cannabis to help their symptoms.

Amazingly, more than 90% claimed that medical cannabis did help ease their pain. The survey found evidence that full spectrum cannabis offers slightly more relief than CBD-isolated medications: 97% of people who tried cannabis said it improved symptoms, while 93% of people who tried CBD said it improved symptoms.

Patient surveyed reporting using cannabis or CBD to treat a wide variety of symptoms and side effects of living with arthritis, including, but not limited to:

  • Pain
  • Inability to sleep
  • Relaxation
  • Depressed mood
  • Nausea
  • Physical function
  • Fatigue

“Anecdotally, and via this survey data, we know that there are many people with arthritis who benefit from marijuana and CBD products.”
– W. Benjamin Nowell, PhD, Director of Patient-Centered Research at CreakyJoints

The survey also found a growing disconnect between patients and their doctors, with patients being forced to take their healthcare into their own hands due to a lack of action from their medical professionals.

Nearly half of patients (45%) said they started using cannabis or CBD to address arthritis symptoms they have despite taking already taking pharmaceutical medications prescribed to them.

Just two-thirds of patients reported telling their health care provider about their cannabis or CBD use. This may, in part, be explained by the residue impact of years of decades anti-cannabis propaganda peddled by world Governments. Patients may be embarrassed to admit they are getting relief for a medication deemed to be a ‘recreational narcotic’ by many in society.

Most of the patients who did tell their healthcare provider (58%) claimed that their medical professional did not even consider this when making treatment changes nor offer advice about safety, effectiveness, or dosing.

More than half (54%) of patients wanted to get more information on the medical properties of cannabis and CBD from their doctor. Potentially due to a lack of training and education on the importance of the Endocannabinoid System in regulating the human body.

Discussing the results of the survey, W. Benjamin Nowell, PhD, Director of Patient-Centered Research at CreakyJoints, expressed that while the results of the survey offer support to expanding access to medical cannabis, further research will be needed into how cannabis interacts with pharmaceuticals patients are already taking before steps are taken to expand access:

“Anecdotally, and via this survey data, we know that there are many people with arthritis who benefit from marijuana and CBD products.

“However, we have to temper our potential excitement about adding these products to an arthritis management strategy because there is so much yet to learn about how these supplements interact with people’s prescribed and over-the-counter medicines and if, in fact, they can be proven to positively impact a person’s experience of disease and symptoms,”

“It’s vital that marijuana and CBD products are tested for their safety, dosing, and effectiveness in randomised controlled trials, which are the gold standard for understanding the risks and benefits of treating disease.

“In the meantime, we encourage people with arthritis to openly communicate with the health care team about their use of these products so it can be part of their health history and taken into account when making decisions about future care.”

References and further Reading