Only those who suffer from chronic joint pain understand how debilitating the condition can be. When the smallest movements cause piercing agony, you are willing to do almost anything to reduce the pain and return to some semblance of normal life.
Increasingly, joint pain sufferers are turning to cannabis as a treatment option. Though research on cannabis use specifically for the management of joint pain is thin, there is good anecdotal evidence that compounds like THC and CBD can alleviate inflammation and pain to provide relief, at least for mild to moderate pain over short periods of time.
There are many different ways to use weed for medical benefit, but here are the three best options for beginners looking to treat their joint pain:
Apply Topicals Directly to Joints
When joint pain is the only condition you are looking to treat with cannabis therapy, topicals are perhaps the best solution. Topical cannabis products are those applied to the skin, not consumed or inhaled; they include products like lotions, salves, and balms, and they might contain other skin- and joint-soothing ingredients, like menthol, lidocaine, arnica, and more.
The skin acts as an effective barrier against most compounds, which means the cannabinoids and terpenes present in cannabis topicals will not reach your bloodstream. Instead, they sink into the tissues surrounding their application, providing direct relief to those parts of your body. Both THC and CBD have been shown to have anti-inflammatory, muscle relaxant, and pain-blocking effects which can make joint pain more tolerable, or even make it disappear.
By using topicals, you won’t gain various full-body effects, like anxiety relief or all-over relaxation. On the other hand, you won’t become intoxicated because THC and other cannabinoids will never reach your brain. What’s more, you won’t be at risk of failing a drug test. You can find CBD topicals in most pharmacies and health food stores, but topicals that contain THC will only be available in legal dispensaries, like these Michigan marijuana shops.
Inhale Cannabis Smoke or Vapor
If your joint pain is not isolated to one or two joints, you might want to consider using a full-body solution. By far the most common method of using cannabis is inhaling, which can take a number of forms, such as:
- Pre-rolls and joints. You can purchase dry flower packaged like cigarettes, or you can buy loose flower and roll it into joints yourself.
- Pipes and water pipes. Dry flowers can be packed into the bowl of any type of pipe, which can create cleaner smoke and a more palatable smoking experience.
- Dabs. Dabs super-heat cannabis concentrates to create a vapor that is inhaled. However, concentrates have much higher doses of cannabinoids, so they aren’t advised for beginners.
- Vaporizers. Traditionally, vaporizers are large, tabletop devices that heat flowers or concentrate to create vapor, but there are more portable vape pens available nowadays, some of which use pre-filled cartridges. Vapor is smoother and cleaner than any type of smoke.
Inhaling cannabis products can provide immediate relief, which is important for many suffering from joint pain. Plus, most inhalable options are more affordable and more accessible than other types of cannabis. Still, it would be wise for you to talk to your doctor about gaining a medical marijuana card, which can reduce the costs associated with marijuana treatments and give you access to more legal dispensaries.
Administer Oils or Tinctures Orally
Finally, cannabis oils and tinctures are other all-over solutions for sufferers of widespread joint pain and discomfort. Both of these solutions can be administered under the tongue to be absorbed by the bloodstream, or you can add drops of oil or tincture into food and drink to ingest them.
Generally, doctors advocate for the former option, which provides immediate and reliable effects. Ingesting any type of cannabis substance, be it oil, tincture, or “special” brownie, requires the cannabis to travel through your digestive tract to be absorbed in the intestines. Unfortunately, the intestines aren’t excellent at absorbing cannabinoids, which means dosing can be unpredictable, as can the amount of time it takes for cannabinoids to start manifesting effects.
The decision to start using cannabis to manage your joint pain is one that should be made between you and your doctor. However, if you are interested in cannabis treatment, the three methods listed above are perhaps the best options to consider.