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Apr 5, 2020 7 min read

Can Cannabis Help Tendinitis?

author
by Philip Ghezelbash
Medically reviewed by Roni Sharon, MD
Sponsored by

Overview

Cannabis treatment is potentially effective for symptoms that are present with tendinitis such as pain and inflammation. However clinical research investigating the effectiveness of cannabis treatment specifically for tendinitis has yet to be published.

The endocannabinoid system, with which cannabis interacts, is well-known to regulate pain and inflammatory processes.

Cannabis-based medicines such as Sativex, Nabilone, as well as CBD, have been shown to help reduce chronic pain associated with inflammation. Cannabis may, therefore, be effective for treating the pain associated with tendinitis, although we can’t be sure until specific clinical trials looking at tendinitis are published. 

Cannabis has been shown to help reduce pain and inflammation in several conditions, such as fibromyalgia, chronic back/neck pain, migraines, menstrual pain, and osteoarthritis.  

Furthermore, there are multiple cannabis strains. To date, research hasn’t shown whether certain strains are more or less effective for certain diseases. 

Cannabis is safe to use for pain relief for most people and is a viable alternative to opioids which are frequently abused. 

How Cannabis Works on Tendinitis

The endocannabinoid system (ECS) exists in all vertebrates and helps regulate crucial functions such as sleep, pain, and appetite. The human body produces its own cannabinoids, which modulate and activate its various functions, but as its name suggests, the endocannabinoid system can also be modulated and activated by cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. Because the entire system was only discovered in the past 30 years, scientists still have much to learn about the myriad ways cannabis affects the human body.

The endocannabinoid system is involved with modulating two indicators of tendinitis — pain, and inflammation. Cannabinoid receptors such as CB1 and CB2 are central to how the endocannabinoid system modulates these effects. These are the main receptors identified that can be influenced by cannabis. The main difference between these receptors is their distribution in the body. 

CB2 receptors are primarily expressed only when there is active inflammation, mainly on immune cells, in small concentrations in the brain, and have also been found on bone and connective tissue cells. CB2 activation by endocannabinoids in mouse models of inflammation has been shown to decrease inflammatory markers.

CB1 receptors are primarily expressed in the nervous system and neurons within the brain. The CB1 receptor is located in regions of the peripheral and central nervous system where pain signaling is controlled such as the dorsal root ganglion, and also in cortical regions such as the prefrontal cortex and amygdala.

Tendinitis causes pain and inflammation, while the endocannabinoid system and its cannabinoid receptors regulate bodily processes related to these symptoms. Modulation of the endocannabinoid system may, therefore, produce beneficial effects for these symptoms.

Medical Studies On Tendinitis & Cannabis

Multiple studies have shown cannabis may help to reduce pain in conditions that have similar symptoms to tendinitis such as fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, and general chronic pain. None of the research to date is specific to tendinitis, but the following studies give us an insight into the potential benefits cannabis may have for tendinitis symptoms.

  • One study examined the results of 28 different researchers on cannabis and chronic pain and concluded that “there was moderate-quality evidence to support the use of cannabinoids for the treatment of chronic pain.” One limitation of this review is that many of the studies had small sample sizes. These studies were also not specifically looking at tendinitis.
  • In a 2006 randomized controlled trial, researchers examined the effects of Sativex (a CBD and THC mixture) on 58 eligible participants with rheumatoid arthritis. Thirty-one participants were randomized to the Sativex treatment and 27 to the placebo group. After five weeks, patients who were given Sativex reported improved pain on movement and rest, ‘disease activity’ scores improved and quality of sleep also improved.
  • Tendinitis is often a symptom of fibromyalgia and a leading cause of pain in the disorder. One randomized controlled trial in 2008 examined the effects of Nabilone (a THC-based drug) on 40 patients with fibromyalgia. Patients either received Nabilone or a placebo over four weeks and were evaluated for measurements of pain (e.g tender points). After four weeks no significant improvements were found in the placebo group, while the Nabilone group experienced significant decreases in pain measurements. 

There is a lack of clinical or pre-clinical research on cannabis and tendinitis. That being said, several clinical trials show positive outcomes for cannabis as a pain-reliever.

Sativex, Nabilone (which mimics THC), and inhaled THC appear to help decrease pain in patients with rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, and neuropathic pain, respectively. 

CBD & Tendinitis

Several studies have examined the effects of CBD on conditions that cause joint pain and inflammation such as fibromyalgia and osteoarthritis. Despite a lack of specific research on cannabis and tendinitis, the following studies may indicate that CBD could help tendinitis symptoms.

  • One 2018 review examined the effectiveness of CBD for relieving chronic pain. In this review, researchers examined pain in a range of conditions including cancer pain, neuropathic pain, and also fibromyalgia pain (which can appear in the joints). The conclusion was that CBD was effective overall and didn’t cause adverse effects. 
  • One 2017 study published in the journal Pain examined how CBD affects osteoarthritis. Researchers induced osteoarthritis in rats and then administered CBD to determine whether it helps with pain and prevents the development of joint issues. The results showed that CBD reduced acute joint inflammation, prevented the development of joint pain and also prevented further development of pain and nerve damage in the osteoarthritis-affected joints.
  • A 2015 study on rats showed that CBD gel reduced joint pain and inflammation without causing any side effects. 

CBD appears to be safe and effective for decreasing symptoms of several conditions characterized by joint pain. While all of this research is promising, we can’t conclude the effectiveness of CBD for tendinitis due to an absence of clinical trials.

Potential side effects of cannabis use

Cannabis and especially CBD for the treatment of pain and inflammation is well-tolerated.

Cannabis-based medicines containing THC can cause short term side effects such as increased appetite, fatigue, anxiety, impaired cognitive function, and mood changes.

Cannabis side effects: fatigue, memory, appetite, reaction time, mood, paranoia, addiction

Long-term adverse effects from cannabis use are uncommon but do occur in some people. Psychological dependence and cognitive deficits are possible side effects of regular cannabis use. These long-term side effects are primarily seen in those who begin using cannabis regularly at a young age. 

Cannabis can also trigger and exacerbate symptoms of underlying mental health conditions such as schizophrenia in genetically predisposed individuals.

Disclaimer

The Cannigma content is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always consult with an experienced medical professional with a background in cannabis before beginning treatment.

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