Many athletes suffer from debilitating and painful arthritis. These days, more athletes are considering natural treatments for their arthritis that includes using CBD.
While not all athletes develop arthritis, this demographic is more prone when compared to more sedentary people. According to a study published in the American Journal of Sports Medicine, athletes are more likely to suffer from some form of arthritis at some point in their lives compared to non-athletes.
Regular exercise is important for overall health and well-being, but extreme types of movements that are practiced regularly can induce issues like arthritis more frequently. Athletes participate in more physically demanding activities than the average person, placing them at a higher risk to suffer from arthritis, particularly as they age.
Those who do end up being diagnosed with arthritis are typically offered NSAIDs and other pain and anti-inflammatory medications to help deal with discomfort. Some athletes, however, are looking for alternative treatment options.
What is Arthritis?
Arthritis is inflammation of the joints and can affect one or more joints at the same time. The symptoms of arthritis tend to gradually develop but sometimes suddenly appear. Typical symptoms of arthritis include pain, swelling, tenderness, stiffness, warmth and loss of range of motion of the joint. Arthritis can afflict any joint in the body, but it tends to be more prevalent in the knees, hips, back and neck.
What is CBD?
CBD-or cannabidiol-is one of dozens of cannabinoids found in the hemp plant. CBD offers plenty of health benefits without any mind-altering effects.
How Can CBD Alleviate Symptoms of Arthritis in Athletes?
CBD works to alleviate the pain and inflammation associated with arthritis by interacting with receptors of the endocannabinoid system (ECS) of the body, which in turn impact the immune response of the body. This system consists of a large network of receptors throughout the body that are involved in several important functions including appetite, pain, inflammation, mood, memory, immune activity and sleep.
When CBD is consumed, it indirectly interacts with the receptors of the endocannabinoid system and helps support how the body regulates functions, such as pain and inflammation. More specifically, CBD engages with CB2 receptors, which are predominantly located in the cells of the immune system.
CBD works to increase the number of endocannabinoids in the body and interact with CB2 receptors. When these receptors receive chemical signals from stimuli, the cells respond accordingly. In the case of CBD, the response leads to reduction in pain and inflammation, by way of immune system facilitation which is why CBD can be so effective for treating athletes with arthritis.
Not only can CBD be used as an alternative to traditional medicines to help reduce pain and inflammation associated with arthritis, it can also be taken without fear of negative side effects that are common with pharmaceuticals, even in long-term usage.
How Can Athletes Use CBD to Reduce Arthritic Symptoms?
CBD comes in a variety of formulas including vapes, oils, tinctures and softges. When it comes to targeting pain and inflammation in specific areas or joints on the body, CBD topicals tends to be a favorite choice among athletes.
CBD topicals come in creams or ointments that are designed to be rubbed onto the afflicted area. After the cream is applied, it is absorbed in the skin and deep into the joint tissue where the CBD interacts with the receptors of the endocannabinoid system to provide relief. When using CBD in this way, it can take as long as an hour or so to take effect, but the relief can last for hours.
Athletes have been known to take CBD in other consumption methods. Vaping allows users to inhale CBD through a vape pen with a CBD oil cartridge. The effects of CBD are felt quickly as it bypasses the gastrointestinal tract. Another benefit of vaping is that less CBD oil is needed to be consumed. While vaping CBD can certainly provide anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving effects, many athletes tend to use topicals when it comes to targeting arthritis that affect specific areas.
Arthritis in athletes is a big long-term concern, which can cause so much pain and reduce their range of motion that it negatively affects their training and performance. Even long after athletes retire, arthritis can significantly impact their lives.
While athletes have many avenues of treatment they can opt to utilize in order to reduce the symptoms associated with arthritis. CBD offers a natural, safer way to treat pain and inflammation. Because there are multiple consumption methods, athletes can pick and choose how to best incorporate CBD into their regimen.
Kai Pattison, M.S.
Athlete Relations x Physiologist
Kai Pattison was born and raised on the North Shore of Oahu, Hawaii. Kai graduated with a Master’s degree in clinical physiology from Point Loma Nazarene University. He is very passionate about human physiology and the applications in sport performance, recovery and clinical diagnostics. Kai has specialized in cardiopulmonary diagnostics, exercise induced energy expenditure and metabolism. Kai has also gained extensive research experience at UCSD on Parkinson’s disease. He enjoys educating and informing people on the importance of exercise to reduce risk of multiple inflammatory diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease. His passion for alternative medicine enables him to strive when promoting health and wellness.