Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease that is a result of the body’s immune system attacking the joints. This attack on the joints causes the synovium inside of the joints to thicken and results in pain and inflammation around the joints that are affected. Because the synovium creates the fluid that lubricates our joints, the disruption of this process can become more degenerative over time and can result in the immobility of the joints.
The inflammation is also another serious problem as it can cause the damage of the elastic and cartilage tissue that cover the ends of the bones in the joints. The result of unchecked inflammation is joint deformity, loose, unstable, increased pain and decreased mobility. Joint damage is irreversible, so it is important that RA is detected early, and aggressive treatment options can be exercised.
The joints of the hands, wrists, elbows, and knees and the joints that RA typically affects. With RA, if one side of the body is affected then the other side of the body will be as well even if symptoms have not yet shown themselves. Because this type of a disease is can affect the entire body, it is important to look out for the early signs such as joint pain or stiffness that lasts longer than six weeks. Early detection is the first step in treatment of RA.
After being diagnosed with RA, patients can begin a treatment program. Treatment can be as mild as anti-inflammatory drugs such as iBuprofen or Alieve to prevent pain and inflammation. However, in extreme cases patients will be prescribed corticosteroids or disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) to attempt to slow the activity of the disease. If RA was not managed properly, or efforts to slow the progress were unsuccessful, surgery is an option for some people. Joint replacement is an absolute last resort and is only needed if the damage is severe enough to prevent normal physical activities in the patient.
Medical marijuana is also a treatment option for people looking to manage their symptoms. Cannabis is proven to control pain for people suffering from malignant cancer. In many cases, patients find that after using medical marijuana they can reduce their usage of other over-the-counter pain relievers. However, there may be a new type of medicinal marijuana treatment on the horizon for Rheumatoid Arthritis sufferers.
InMed Pharmaceuticals, a Canadian-based pharmaceutical company, has recently announced their plan to create a mixture of cannabinoids and non-cannabis based ingredients to relieve joint inflammation and the pain associated with arthritis. The early tests have yielded positive results in regards to the reduced inflammation, which gives hope that medical marijuana is a viable option in the treatment of RA.
Although there is a lot of research that show evidence that cannabis is an effective treatment for Rheumatoid Arthritis, medical marijuana is not widely prescribed. If the standard treatments for RA are not working, it may be time to speak to a doctor about alternative methods involving cannabis to manage the pain and inflammation of arthritis.