More and more people are using cannabis and CBD to relieve painful, inflammatory conditions like bursitis. But how do these products work, and are they as effective as some people claim?
Here’s all you need to know about cannabis for bursitis, including how to use it for optimal relief.
What Is Bursitis?
Bursitis is an inflammatory condition that affects a small, fluid-filled sac known as the bursa. The bursa acts as a cushion for bones, muscles, and tendons, protecting them from pressure and friction as they move.
The bursa can become inflamed when under continual stress, for example, as a result of repetitive motions. This inflammation leads to a variety of uncomfortable symptoms in the area.
The primary symptoms of bursitis are pain and swelling around the muscles and bones. These symptoms usually occur close to joints, and are most common in the:
Bursitis usually only occurs in one joint at a time. However, in some cases, it may affect multiple joints.
What Causes Bursitis?
As we mentioned, bursitis occurs when the bursa becomes inflamed due to repetitive movements or prolonged pressure. Therefore, it is most common in people who have occupations or hobbies that involve repeated motions, like athletes, gardeners, or musicians.
Furthermore, some groups of people have a higher risk of developing bursitis than others. They include:
Sometimes, bursitis can be the result of an infection. In this case, its symptoms are likely to come on more rapidly than other forms of bursitis.
The best way to relieve bursitis is to rest the painful area by stopping any aggravating activities. Using a splint or brace during exercise or everyday activities may help.
While the area is healing, individuals can perform gentle stretching and strengthening exercises. However, they should be cautious not to overdo it and make their bursitis worse.
It may also be beneficial to keep the area elevated and use compression garments such as elasticated bandages. Icing could reduce the pain and swelling of acute bursitis but offers little relief in the long-term.
The most common medications for bursitis are anti-inflammatory drugs like aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen. However, these drugs can cause side effects, especially over long periods.
In severe cases, doctors might recommend more drastic treatments like corticosteroid injections or surgery. If an infection is present, a course of antibiotics may be necessary.
But how about natural remedies like cannabis and CBD oil? They have become increasingly popular in recent years, but are they effective for bursitis?
How Does Cannabis for Bursitis Work?
There is currently no research available on cannabis for bursitis, specifically. However, there is plenty of evidence regarding the plant’s anti-inflammatory effects.
Most of the research to date has focused on cannabinoids. These compounds interact with the body’s in-built endocannabinoid system (ECS) and significantly influence various biological processes.
The ECS comprises a series of cell receptors (CB1 and CB2) and chemicals called endocannabinoids.
Cannabinoid receptors exist throughout the body. However, CB2 receptors are especially widespread in the immune system, which plays a critical role in regulating inflammation.
Via these receptors, cannabinoids like THC and CBD can influence the ECS to reduce inflammation in conditions like bursitis. However, they work in very different ways. Let’s take a closer look.
THC or CBD for Bursitis?
Research suggests that THC exerts its anti-inflammatory effects by binding with cannabinoid receptors directly.
It appears to reduce the activity of pro-inflammatory chemicals called cytokines and chemokines. However, studies are inconclusive, and some suggest that THC could have pro-inflammatory effects in certain circumstances.
Furthermore, THC is the compound responsible for cannabis’ intoxicating effects and may not be suitable for everyone. Firstly, THC-containing cannabis is only legal in 33 states for medicinal use and 11 states for recreational use. Therefore, not everyone has access to this compound.
THC can also cause side effects, such as drowsiness, confusion, and reduced coordination. Therefore, anyone who needs to drive or operate machinery may prefer to try CBD. The same goes for people who simply do not want to feel high.
CBD affects the ECS in a very different way. Rather than binding with cannabinoid receptors directly, it enhances the activity of our natural endocannabinoids. It appears to inhibit the enzyme that breaks down these chemicals, meaning they stay active in the body for longer.
Furthermore, CBD seems to influence other receptors outside of the ECS. They include TRPV, PPAR-gamma, and GPR55 receptors.
All of these receptors play a role in reducing inflammation and relieving pain. Therefore, even for those with legal access to THC, products containing a generous amount of CBD may be more beneficial.
Moreover, because CBD does not bind with cannabinoid receptors directly, it provides anti-inflammatory effects without intoxication. For this reason, it is far more widely available than cannabis containing THC. It also produces very few side effects, and most people tolerate it well.
Using CBD for Bursitis
To get the most out of CBD for bursitis, there are several things to consider.
Firstly, there are many different consumption methods. Oils and edibles are popular choices, and concentrates provide a potent dose of cannabinoids for those in severe pain. However, possibly one of the most effective ways to use cannabis for bursitis is a topical application.
Creams, balms, and sprays allow consumers to apply cannabinoids directly to painful areas for more targeted relief. Studies on rats suggest that this method could reduce swelling and pain within just four days.
Next, it is essential to choose a high-quality product with lab reports to confirm its cannabinoid content. It may be most beneficial to select a full-spectrum cream that contains a range of other cannabinoids and terpenes as well as CBD.
Experts believe these ingredients work synergistically to enhance one another’s effects in addition to providing their own anti-inflammatory effects.
Finally, look at what else is in the cream. Many manufacturers include extra active ingredients with soothing or anti-inflammatory effects. However, consumers may wish to steer clear of long ingredient lists with lots of unnecessary additives.
To find out more, see our Best CBD Creams Review.
Cannabis for Bursitis Relief: Final Thoughts
There is currently no research specifically on cannabis for bursitis. However, there is evidence that cannabinoids, especially CBD, have anti-inflammatory effects. Therefore, they may provide some individuals with relief.
Remember to consult a physician before using cannabis or CBD oil for bursitis relief, especially if taking any other medication. They will ensure that these remedies are both suitable and safe.