The Potential of CBD for Knee Pain Relief: Exploring the Medical Research

CBD for knee pain

The medical research supporting CBD for knee pain.

Knee pain is a common issue affecting millions worldwide, often caused by conditions like arthritis, injury, or inflammation. As many adults are playing sports and active into their later years, as evidenced in the pickleball craze spreading across the US, doctors are reporting a record number of patients complaining about knee pain. Despite the cause, sports medicine clinicians, and functional and integrative medicine doctors are always looking for alternative, safe ways to treat their patients’ issues. In recent years, there has been growing interest in exploring CBD (cannabidiol), for managing knee pain. Notably, organizations such as Major League Baseball (MLB), the National Football League (NFL), National Basketball Association (NBA) and the International Olympic Committee have condoned the use of CBD by its athletes. This is yet another endorsement supporting the efficacy of CBD in treating injuries, inflammation and pain. Professional athletes are using CBD, why shouldn’t you?

CBD for Knee Pain

Inflammation in the knee can occur for various reasons, but one common cause is an injury or damage to the structures within the knee joint. The knee joint is a complex structure consisting of bones, cartilage, ligaments, tendons, and fluid-filled sacs called bursae. When any of these structures get injured or irritated, it can lead to inflammation.  For example, a tear in the knee's cartilage, known as a meniscus tear, can cause inflammation. Likewise, strains or sprains in the ligaments or tendons that support the knee joint can also lead to inflammation. Additionally, conditions like osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, gout, or an infection can cause inflammation in the knee.  When inflammation occurs, the body's immune system responds by releasing chemicals that increase blood flow to the affected area. This leads to redness, swelling, warmth, and pain in the knee. In some cases, the inflammation can be chronic, causing long-term discomfort and mobility issues.  It's important to note that inflammation in the knee should be evaluated by a healthcare professional to determine the underlying cause and appropriate treatment options.


The medical research supporting the use of CBD for knee pain relief is promising.   


Below are some articles on some of this research: 

  1. A study published in the European Journal of Pain found that CBD freeze gel applied topically can help reduce pain and inflammation in animal models with arthritis-related knee pain. CBD interacts with the endocannabinoid system (ECS) in the body, which plays a crucial role in regulating pain perception. By modulating the endocannabinoid system, CBD may help alleviate knee pain. Inflammation in the knee joint is a common cause of pain. By reducing inflammation, CBD may provide relief and improve mobility.  

(Source: Hammell, D. C., et al. "Transdermal cannabidiol reduces inflammation and pain-related behaviors in a rat model of arthritis." European Journal of Pain 20.6 (2016): 936-948.)  


  1. The Journal of Pain Research published a review that discussed the potential of CBD in managing chronic pain. It highlighted CBD's ability to modulate pain perception and reduce inflammation. 

(Source: Boehnke, Kevin F., et al. "Cannabidiol in the management of patients with chronic pain: a review of the current evidence." Journal of Pain Research 12 (2019): 751-762.)  


  1. A survey by the Arthritis Foundation found that many patients with arthritis use CBD to manage their symptoms, including knee pain. While this is anecdotal evidence, it demonstrates the interest and potential benefits reported by individuals. 

(Source: Arthritis Foundation. "CBD for Arthritis Pain: What You Should Know." Accessed on 15th July 2021. 

  1. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study to assess CBD treatment in elite athletes. Topical administration of CBD was tolerated well by this population and resulted in only minor adverse effects. As elite athletes are trained and attuned to assess safety concerns due to their professional lives, this population is likely to detect safety or tolerability concerns. Six weeks of treatment provided significant decreases in pain and improvements in function. The data collected in a pilot population warrants further study of topical CBD in prospective, randomized and controlled studies in elite athletes. 

(Source: Hall N, James B, Bhuiyan MAN, Crane E, Falgout C, Murnane KS. Topical cannabidiol is well tolerated in individuals with a history of elite physical performance and chronic lower extremity pain. J Cannabis Res. 2023 Mar 30;5(1):11. doi: 10.1186/s42238-023-00179-8. PMID: 36991501; PMCID: PMC10061782.)


  1. Reported in the Journal of Hand Surgery, Cannabidiol treatment resulted in improvements from baseline among patient-reported outcome measures, including Visual Analog Scale pain; Disabilities of the Arm, Shoulder, and Hand; and Single Assessment Numeric Evaluation scores, compared to the control arm during the study period. There were similar physical parameters identified with range of motion, grip, and pinch strength. 

(Source: The Journal of Hand Surgery Volume 47, Issue 7, July 2022, Pages 611-620, A Randomized Controlled Trial of Topical Cannabidiol for the Treatment of Thumb Basal Joint Arthritis John T. Heineman MD, MPH ∗, Grace L. Forster BS †, Kristen L. Stephens MD ∗, Patrick S. Cottler PhD ∗, Michael P. Timko PhD ‡, Brent R. DeGeorge Jr. MD, PhD)


  1. A study from the Journal of Cannabis Research, reports CBD use was associated with improvements in pain (83%), physical function (66%), and sleep quality (66%). Subgroup analysis by diagnosis type (osteoarthritis, rheumatoid, or other autoimmune arthritis) found improvements among groups for physical function, favoring the osteoarthritis group. The overall cohort reported a 44% reduction in pain after CBD use . The osteoarthritis group had a more significant percentage reduction and point reduction in pain compared to rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune arthritis. The majority of respondents reported a reduction or cessation of other medications after CBD use reductions in anti-inflammatories, acetaminophen , opioids and discontinuation of anti-inflammatories , acetaminophen, and opioids. 

(Source: Frane, Nicholas & Stapleton, Erik & Iturriaga, Cesar & Ganz, Maximillian & Rasquinha, Vijay & Duarte, Robert. (2022). Cannabidiol as a treatment for arthritis and joint pain: an exploratory cross-sectional study. Journal of Cannabis Research. 4. 10.1186/s42238-022-00154-9.)

CBD for Knee Pain Relief


Knee pain is a common ailment that can significantly impact a person's quality of life. CBD is a natural,  non-psychoactive compound derived from the cannabis plant. It interacts with the body's endocannabinoid system, which plays a crucial role in regulating pain, inflammation, and immune responses. Several studies have suggested that CBD may have pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory effects, making it a potential option for managing knee pain.


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