Recent studies suggest that cannabidiol oil (CBD oil) could play a role in the treatment of arthritis. What are the benefits of CBD oil and are there any side effects people considering using it should be aware of?

CBD oil, also called hemp oil, is an oil made from an extract from cannabis plants. Some people use CBD oil to relieve pain associated with chronic conditions, such as arthritis.

This article looks at the scientific evidence behind the benefits, uses, and side effects of CBD oil. Read on to understand whether CBD oil may be an effective treatment for arthritis and chronic pain.

What is CBD oil?

CBD is a type of cannabinoid, which is a chemical found in cannabis plants. Unlike delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), another chemical found in cannabis, CBD is not psychoactive. This means it does not change a person’s mental state or produce a “high” as THC can.

There are many different CBD oil products available, and the amount of CBD in them may vary.

As cannabis is used as a recreational drug, there is some controversy over the use of products made from cannabis plants.

It is important to note, however, that CBD tends to be extracted from hemp plants as opposed to marijuana plants. Both are types of cannabis plant, but unlike marijuana plants, hemp plants are not selectively bred to contain high levels of THC.

Some people use CBD oil to relieve pain and reduce inflammation. Recent research suggests CBD oil may be useful for pain relief and other conditions.

CBD oil and arthritis pain relief

Arthritis is the leading cause of disability in the United States, affecting over 50 million Americans. The two most common types of arthritis are:

  • Rheumatoid arthritis (RA): A disease where a person’s body attacks their joints, causing inflammation. It commonly affects the hands and feet and leads to painful, swollen, and stiff joints.
  • Osteoarthritis (OA): A degenerative disease that affects joint cartilage and bones, causing pain and stiffness. It often affects the hip, knee, and thumb joints.

Some studies on animals suggest that CBD could help to treat arthritis and relieve the inflammatory pain associated with it:

  • A 2011 study found that CBD helped to reduce inflammatory pain in rats by affecting the way pain receptors respond to stimuli.
  • A 2014 review noted that in animal studies to date, CBD had shown promise as an effective treatment for OA.
  • A 2016 study found that the topical application of CBD had the potential to relieve pain and inflammation associated with arthritis.
  • A 2017 study found that CBD might be a safe and useful treatment for OA joint pain.

However, to date, there is little scientific evidence to prove conclusively that CBD is an effective arthritis treatment for humans.

While findings so far have been encouraging, more research is needed to say with certainty that CBD oil is an effective treatment for arthritis pain.

CBD oil and chronic pain

Cannabinoids, like CBD, attach themselves to specialized receptors in a person’s brain and immune system. One of these receptors, called a CB2 receptor, plays a role in the immune system by managing pain and inflammation.

Researchers believe that when CBD enters a person’s body, it may attach to CB2 receptors. Alternatively, it may cause the body to produce natural cannabinoids that attach to the CB2 receptors.

Either way, scientists believe CBD affects the way these receptors respond to signals being sent to them, possibly helping reduce inflammation and pain.

A 2008 review of research suggested that, for this reason, CBD may play a role in chronic pain management.


CBD oil shows promise as a treatment for arthritis pain. The way researchers believe it affects receptors in the brain and immune system means it may reduce inflammation and pain.

However, more research is needed before researchers can say with certainty that CBD oil is an effective treatment for arthritis pain.

Originally published: Medical News Today – Nancy Carteron, MD, FACR