More than 31 million Americans suffer from arthritis. There are two main types of arthritis: rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is caused by a malfunction of the immune system which causes inflammation and pain in the body’s moveable joints. The immune system of RA sufferers sends cells, which would otherwise be used to attack a virus or bacteria, to the joints and surrounding tissues. This causes damaging inflammation that wears down cartilage so much that, over-time, bones can end up rubbing directly against one another to the point of erosion. In most cases, rheumatoid arthritis attacks symmetrically, meaning the same joints will be affected on both sides of the body. RA can be an extremely painful and debilitating condition that presents challenges for pain management.
As with many autoimmune disorders, the one true cause of rheumatoid arthritis remains unknown. Treatment regimens focus on relieving inflammation to prevent further damage and managing symptoms such as pain, inflammation, fatigue, and loss of appetite. Research shows that cannabinoid therapy is a viable treatment option for RA patients because it can treat symptoms as well as help to slow progression of the condition.