Updated on January 30, 2019. Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer
Millions of individuals worldwide are suffering from severe post-traumatic arthritis symptoms. Symptoms range from swelling to tenderness and joint stiffness to severe pain — all issues medical marijuana and post-traumatic arthritis can treat.
Post-traumatic arthritis is a type of osteoarthritis (OA) caused by some trauma — like a previous injury. OA is where the cartilage of your joint wears away. Post-traumatic arthritis may occur in any one of your joints, including your:
After you have a severe injury, such as a dislocation or fracture, post-traumatic arthritis may develop. This injury could be in your feet or hands, knee or shoulders.
Generally, arthritis sets in right after a person has major surgery, but it sometimes can appear after minor surgery, such as surgery to your hand.
Post-traumatic arthritis in older adults tends to occur in the hip joint and hip region, particularly in hip replacement patients.
Some symptoms of both early and late post-traumatic arthritis include:
If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, you should make an appointment with your doctor for an examination.
There are several causes of post-traumatic arthritis. If you have a worn-out joint after any physical injury, this can lead to this condition. Injuries can be from:
A typical way individuals develop post-traumatic arthritis is through a motor vehicle accident. For instance, if you broke your shoulder in a car accident, it can eventually turn into post-traumatic arthritis.
Professional athletes who have had multiple sports injuries may start suffering from the painful symptoms of arthritis even before they retire. They have damaged cartilage in their body equating to a feeling of glass against their bones.
These injuries can cause cartilage or bone damage, which changes the mechanics of your joint and makes it quickly wear out. Excess body weight or continued injury can accelerate this wearing-out process.
Additionally, a joint injury can affect how your joint functions, regardless of the articular cartilage impact. In this situation, your bones might not heal the way they’re supposed to heal, distorting your joint movement and function and adding more pressure to your articular cartilage.
As time goes on, your joint will wear out faster because of this misalignment. Your arthritis will become progressively worse with time, and you’ll require treatment to ease your suffering.
Many doctors worry the prevalence of post-traumatic arthritis will increase in the U.S. as injuries in young sports athletes become more common. Along with the increased number of injuries, obesity levels are increasing, and a lot of young athletes aren’t receiving the proper injury rehabilitation, or they’re not taking enough time off from their sports activities to recover.
On top of these problems, many athletes who have had a joint injury have a higher risk of experiencing future injuries in the same joint. As it happens, young athletes with a lower extremity injury have a three to five times higher risk of experiencing a repeat injury than those who never had a sports-related injury, according to the Hedley Orthopaedic Institute.
Post-traumatic arthritis treatment can also cause other complications. Any surgical or medical treatment comes with its own risk of side effects. For instance, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can cause liver problems, as well as kidney and stomach irritation.
Cortisone can elevate the blood sugar and heart rate. Surgical treatments come with risks of surrounding structure damage and infection and loosening or wearing out of implants. There are other medical complications as well, such as:
Fortunately, complications like these don’t happen that often, and most surgeries are successful in improving function and pain.
Arthritis doesn’t just affect your joints — it could affect your mood as well. In fact, a third of all 45-year-old or older patients with arthritis also suffer from depression, anxiety or both, according to a study published in Arthritis Care & Research.
The study revealed 31 percent of the patients experienced anxiety, and 18 percent experienced depression. Overall, a third of all the study’s participants experienced at least one of the two conditions. Eighty-four percent of the patients who had depression also suffered from anxiety.
Depression and anxiety in individuals with arthritis can profoundly impact the quality of their life. These conditions can decline physical function levels and affect a person’s willingness and ability to cope with their arthritis. They can also interfere with the patient’s adherence to treatment.
Statistics about post-traumatic arthritis from Hedley Orthopaedic Institute show:
Scientists have discovered evidence of potentially inflammatory arthritis and OA in dinosaurs. Human arthritis cases date back as far as 4500 BCE. Arthritis was rare before the 1600s. During the Age of Exploration, arthritis spread across the Atlantic. It received its name in 1859.
You can’t prevent post-traumatic arthritis. You can, however, minimize it by preventing injuries. When you can’t stop it, surgeons may treat the injuries to help restore the joint to newer condition, as much as possible. Maintaining normal body weight as much as possible can also help.
To derive your post-traumatic arthritis treatment protocol, your doctor evaluates your joint pain and asks about your symptoms and the history of your condition. They’ll perform a physical exam and could take X-rays, an MRI, a CT scan or other imaging studies. They may also order blood tests.
Post-traumatic arthritis treatment will depend on the doctor’s diagnostic report. Common treatments include the following.
Medications: Your doctor may prescribe you NSAIDs to relieve your inflammation and pain. Side effects of NSAIDs may include:
Orthotics: Your doctor may recommend you use arch supports, shoe inserts or special footwear to offer support and comfort to your feet. These may take a few days or weeks to get used to, but after a break-in period, you’ll likely not realize you’re wearing them.
Physical therapy: Your doctor may also refer you to a physical therapist to help you regain the lost flexibility and strength. They’ll suggest a range of strengthening, stretching and motion exercises.
Surgical procedure: If you have a severe case of post-traumatic arthritis, your doctor may suggest surgery, which will depend on the joint(s) affected.
Your doctor may recommend other advanced medical therapies to treat your condition and joint pain. A couple of these therapies are below.
Amniotic Membrane Stem Cell Injections
The doctor obtains these injections from amniotic membrane cells, and they contain hyaluronic acid, growth factors, and anti-inflammatory agents. All these help stimulate healing and growth. These stem cell injections create a regenerative effect, reducing further degeneration and providing you with long-lasting relief without side effects, unlike steroid injections.
Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) Injections
The doctor uses your plasma and blood platelets with a PRP injection to expedite the healing process. Platelets contain a high concentration of growth factors, which help reduce inflammation and restore cartilage and other damaged tissues.
Since PRP injections consist of your blood, there’s no chance of you having an immune or allergy reaction. Side effects of PRP injections are very rare but include pain and local infection at the injection site.
Traditionally, OA treatment was limited to pain relief only. Scientists are now looking into medications for treating OA — not just pain, but cartilage damage, too.
Biphosphonates — a class of drug doctors commonly prescribe OA patients — work by preventing cells called osteoclasts from breaking down the bone. Scientists believe they could work just the same for OA by inhibiting the osteoclasts’ activity in the bone underneath the affected joints’ cartilage.
Also, a new 3D imaging analysis method may result in improved treatment for arthritis. A team of physicians, engineers and radiologists developed an algorithm for monitoring arthritis patients’ joints.
This method could change how doctors assess the severity of the condition. It could also help doctors obtain a greater understanding of how OA develops and allow for researchers to assess newer, more effective treatments more accurately without needing invasive tissue samples.
Medical marijuana is becoming more popular as an arthritis treatment, and various types of arthritis are qualifying conditions for medical cannabis in some states.
Research on marijuana for post-traumatic arthritis shows it has anti-inflammatory effects that help individuals with arthritis live healthier, happier lives. Cannabis helps reduce swelling and ease pain without the harsh side effects of opiate or NSAIDs use.
In 2015, a Dalhousie University researcher examined whether cannabis could repair arthritic joints and relieve pain. The researcher found the cannabinoid receptor contained pain-detecting nerves and cannabinoids, like those in marijuana, which control pain signal firing to the brain from the joint by sticking to nerve receptors.
Millions of Americans suffer from arthritis, the most common cause of disability in America. And as the baby boomer generation ages, the prevalence of arthritis will continue to climb.
Arthritis is a joint disorder characterized by inflammation and accompanying joint pain. There are more than 100 different types of arthritis. For example, osteoarthritis is the result of worn-down cartilage, while a hyperactive immune system causes rheumatoid arthritis.
Together, the many types of arthritis make up the most common chronic illness in the U.S., which costs patients billions of dollars. For example, a 2001 study projected patients with rheumatoid arthritis would incur more than $21 billion in medical expenditures and work loss.
Doctors and patients use a variety of medications in the treatment of arthritis. Many of these drugs, however, can cause serious side effects. Some patients who suffer from arthritis have opted instead to use medical marijuana, which is an affordable, natural alternative that lacks the side effects found in traditional arthritis medicines. These patients have seen excellent results with medical marijuana, with improved movement, less pain and less use of other medications.
Recent research has shown medicinal marijuana can be an effective alternative arthritis treatment. Marijuana is a strong pain reliever, and, when used by itself or in combination with other painkillers, can safely and effectively control the pain from arthritis. Studies have also shown marijuana suppresses inflammation — which is the core symptom of arthritis.
Symptoms medical cannabis for post-traumatic arthritis can help with include:
Individuals who take medical marijuana for post-traumatic arthritis could experience cannabis side effects, as each person reacts differently to the herb. When you ingest marijuana appropriately, any potentially negative side effects are typically minimal. However, if you take cannabis in higher doses than recommended, you could experience the side effects below, depending on the strain and dosage.
Also, if you smoke your medical cannabis, you could risk having respiratory problems. The key point to remember is that it is possible to misuse cannabis, as with other medications. Consult with a qualified medical marijuana doctor who can advise you on the dosage and usage of cannabis.
There are many cannabis and post-traumatic arthritis treatments available, each with a unique set of and effects. Some strains to try include:
Other strains for osteoarthritis include:
Strains for anxiety are:
Strains for depression are:
Strains for sleep are:
These are only some of the many different strains you can test out to relieve your post-traumatic arthritis symptoms. Some will be more beneficial to you than others. A lot of patients have had to go through a trial-and-error phase before they found the strain or strains that worked best for them. Talk with your cannabis doctor to see if they have any recommendations. If you don’t have a cannabis doctor yet, you can find one at Marijuana Doctors.
Methods of administering marijuana and post-traumatic arthritis treatment include:
Individuals suffering from post-traumatic arthritis might want to try CBD in a vaporizer first. You may also apply a topical salve to the affected area. You’ll find a variety of CBD products so you can make DIY CBD salves.
Your medical marijuana doctor or local budtender can help you evaluate the methods to determine the most beneficial way for your specific post-traumatic arthritis condition.
If you suffer from joint pain, swelling, and stiffness, and would like to learn how cannabis for post-traumatic arthritis can improve your condition, MarijuanaDoctors.com can help. We can connect you with a quality marijuana doctor across the country in all legal marijuana states and ensure you comply with your state laws.