Cannabis has the potential to help alleviate chronic inflammatory pain associated with plantar fasciitis, though there is limited research specifically on cannabinoid treatment and this condition.
Cannabis acts on the endocannabinoid system (ECS) in the body, which is involved in regulating several processes including pain and inflammation. Activation of the ECS may, therefore, help alleviate chronic inflammatory pain associated with plantar fasciitis.
Studies have shown that cannabis is particularly effective in treating chronic pain. It has been shown to have significant analgesic effects in arthritic conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis, which are associated with chronic joint and fascial tissue pain. Both rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis may be closely involved in the development of plantar fasciitis. As such, cannabis could be used to treat chronic pain associated with this inflammatory foot condition.
Medical studies on plantar fasciitis and cannabis
There is a large body of evidence supporting cannabis as an effective pain reliever in many conditions. More specifically, cannabis has been shown to reduce pain in conditions such as arthritis, which affect similar parts of the body as plantar fasciitis.
The following studies demonstrate the benefits of cannabis for pain and inflammation.
- In a systematic review of 18 different randomized controlled trials involving patients with chronic pain conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, neuropathic pain, and mixed chronic pain, it was found that cannabis led to significant analgesic effects in over 80% of the trials.
- One 2015 review of 28 studies concluded moderate to quality evidence supporting the use of cannabinoids for treating chronic pain.
- A 2004 study showed that the administration of cannabis led to reduced inflammation in the paws of rats along with pain relief.
While the research on cannabis and pain is promising, there is limited research on the use of cannabis for plantar fasciitis. Given cannabis helps with other arthritic conditions it wouldn’t be surprising if future clinical trials show positive results for cannabis and plantar fasciitis.
CBD and plantar fasciitis
There is growing evidence to suggest that CBD may be effective in relieving chronic pain and inflammation in joints and tissues in the body. In particular, CBD has been shown to help relieve pain associated with osteoarthritis. Since this condition may be directly implicated in plantar fasciitis, there is strong potential for CBD to be effective for it.
The following are key research studies that demonstrate the effectiveness of CBD in chronic pain and inflammation in arthritic conditions:
- There is currently a clinical trial underway (initiated in 2018) that aims to evaluate CBD as a treatment for osteoarthritis and psoriatic arthritis. The trial is expected to be completed in December 2020.
- A meta-analysis of clinical studies that evaluated the use of CBD for various chronic pain conditions including rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis and fibromyalgia revealed that CBD demonstrates some clinical benefit in reducing chronic pain.
- A 2015 pre-clinical study reported that the topical application of CBD provides relief for arthritis-related pain and inflammation in a rat model.
- Interestingly, a 2018 study assessed the potential preventative effects of CBD in early-stage inflammation and pain in a rat model of osteoarthritis. The researchers found that CBD administration prevented the development of later-stage pain and prevented nerve damage in osteoarthritic joints.
At present, there is limited research on the use of CBD for plantar fasciitis. However, given that CBD has demonstrated effectiveness in inflammatory conditions like arthritis, there is significant potential for CBD to be an effective therapeutic for plantar fasciitis.
How cannabis works on plantar fasciitis
The endocannabinoid system (ECS) exists in all vertebrates and helps regulate crucial functions such as sleep, pain, and appetite. The human body produces 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.
Cannabinoids bind to specific endocannabinoid receptors (CB1 and CB2) found throughout the brain, spinal cord, and associated neural networks. These endocannabinoid receptors are involved in the regulation of pain and inflammation, and cannabis can interact with this system.
The activation of the endocannabinoid system has been shown to help reduce chronic pain and inflammation in conditions such as arthritis — particularly osteoarthritis — which is closely linked to arthritis. Pain in plantar fasciitis and associated forms of arthritis result from inflammation of bands of connective tissue called ‘fascia’ that connect joints in the body. CB1 and CB2 receptors are expressed in fascia throughout the body, including in joints such as the hip joint.
Due to the presence of cannabinoid receptors in fascial tissue, cannabis could be used to target the endocannabinoid system and provide pain relief for plantar fasciitis, although studies still need to confirm this.
Potential side effects of cannabis use
Cannabis is an effective therapeutic option for treating chronic pain and inflammation associated with plantar fasciitis. It has minimal side effects when taken in appropriate doses, as recommended by a medical professional.
Prolonged and higher dose usage of cannabis can lead to cognitive and memory impairments, particularly in youth who begin using it early on in life. Also, taking cannabis orally in large amounts can lead to a condition called cannabis hyperemesis syndrome (CHS), which leads to severe bouts of nausea and vomiting.
CBD is generally well-tolerated but can have possible side effects such as drowsiness, light-headedness, fatigue, dry mouth, diarrhea, and reduced appetite. Before taking any CBD-based products, it is advisable to speak to your doctor.
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