Arthritis

Arthritis and Cannabis Oil

Arthritis is the inflammation of one or more of a patients’ joints. The primary symptoms of arthritis are joint pain and stiffness, which generally worsen with age. The most common types of arthritis are rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.

Osteoarthritis causes cartilage, meaning the hard, slippery tissue that covers the ends of one’s bones where they form a joint, breaks down. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder that initially targets the lining of joints. 

Causes

The two primary types of arthritis —rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis — damage joints in diverse ways.

Osteoarthritis

The most common form of arthritis, osteoarthritis involves wear-and-tear damage to the patients’ joint’s cartilage — the hard, slick coating found at the ends of bones. Enough damage can cause bone to grind directly on bone, which results in pain and restricted movement. This wear and tear can happen over many years, or it can be accelerated by a joint infection or injury.

Rheumatoid arthritis

In rheumatoid arthritis, the patients’ body’s immune system attacks the lining of the joint capsule, a rough membrane that encloses all the joint parts. This lining becomes swollen and inflamed. The disease process can ultimately destroy cartilage and the bone within the joint. 

Symptoms

The most common symptoms and signs of arthritis involve the joints. Depending on the type of arthritis the patient has, signs and symptoms may include:

  • Decreased range of motion
  • Pain
  • Redness
  • Stiffness
  • Swelling

Treatment

Treatment for arthritis focuses on improving joint function and relieving symptoms. A patient might need to try many different treatments, or combinations of treatments, before they determine what works best for them.

Medications

The medications that are used to treat arthritis differ depending on the type of arthritis. Commonly used arthritis medications can include:

  • Analgesics. These medications help reduce pain, but have no effect on inflammation. Examples include acetaminophen, tramadol and narcotics containing oxycodone hydrocodone.
  • Biologic response modifiers. Typically used in combination with DMARDs, biologic response modifiers are genetically engineered drugs that target numerous protein molecules that are involved in the immune response. Examples consist of etanercept and infliximab.
  • Corticosteroids. This class of drug, which includes cortisone and prednisone, suppresses the immune system and reduces inflammation. Corticosteroids can be taken orally or it can be injected directly into the aching joint.
  • Counterirritants. Some varieties of ointments and creams contain menthol or capsaicin, the ingredient that makes hot peppers hot. Rubbing these preparations on the skin over one’s sore joint may interfere with the pain signals from the joint itself.
  • Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs. Often used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, DMARDs stop or slow the patients’ immune system from attacking their joints. Examples include methotrexate and hydroxychloroquine.
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. NSAIDs reduce both inflammation and pain. OTC NSAIDs include ibuprofen and naproxen sodium. Some types of NSAIDs are available only by prescription. Oral NSAIDs can cause stomach irritation, and some can increase one’s risk of heart attack or stroke. Some NSAIDs are also available as gels or creams, which can be rubbed on joints.