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Cannabis plants contain a bunch of naturally occurring chemicals called cannabinoids. Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of those chemicals — and it’s cropping up everywhere in the wellness world lately.

But CBD is different from tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). That’s because it’s much less likely to produce the “high” feeling often associated with cannabis.

Using CBD products, like CBD oil, can help some people manage chronic joint pain. It may be a viable alternative to other substances used to manage pain, like opioids or immunosuppressants.

That being said, it’s important to talk with your healthcare professional before replacing any medication with CBD. Keep in mind that more research is necessary before we can definitively say that CBD helps joint pain.

Additionally, know that while CBD products are widely available for purchase, they aren’t regulated in the same way as other medications. Epidiolex, a prescription medication for epilepsy, is the only CBD product approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Other CBD products you see for sale are not FDA-approved.

Below, we explore the potential benefits of CBD oil for joint pain.

CBD glossary

  • Full-spectrum CBD: Full-spectrum CBD contains every cannabinoid in the cannabis plant, including some THC (less than 0.3% if the product is federally legal). Because these products contain the full spectrum of cannabis components, they’re believed to produce the entourage effect, making them more effective.
  • Broad-spectrum CBD: Broad-spectrum products contain all cannabinoids except THC. They also may contain other cannabis compounds like terpenes and flavonoids.
  • Isolate: This is the purified form of CBD that contains no THC and no other cannabinoids.

Pros

  • Easy to use: Whether you’re going with CBD massage oil or an ingestible CBD oil, CBD products are fairly easy to use.
  • Variety of potencies: Many high potency CBD oils are available on the market, but you can find low potency products as well. This makes it easy to find something that works for your pain level.
  • Comes with few side effects: Experts seem to agree that using CBD is relatively safe and shouldn’t produce serious side effects in most people. But it’s still important to talk with your healthcare professional before you take CBD, especially if you take any medications or supplements.

Cons

  • Potential allergic reactions: When using topical CBD products, there’s always a possibility that you may experience a skin reaction. That’s why it’s best to patch test before applying topical CBD oil.
  • More studies needed: We need more clinical research to say that CBD can definitely help treat joint pain.

Joint pain is a common symptom of arthritis, which encompasses any condition causing joint inflammation. But just because you have joint pain doesn’t mean you necessarily have arthritis. And you can have discomfort in your joints without inflammation, too.

Arthritis-related joint pain is typically chronic, may come and go, and has no obvious preceding cause. Acute joint pain comes on more suddenly. Some potential causes of acute joint pain include:

  • gout
  • overuse due to repetitive movements
  • injury
  • infection
  • bursitis

How can you tell if you’re dealing with arthritis symptoms? Some clues can include having:

  • pain that doesn’t go away
  • discomfort, pain, and swelling
  • stiff joints
  • difficulty using your joints’ full range of motion

Everyone has a cell-signaling system called the endocannabinoid system (ECS). Some researchers believe that CBD affects the ECS receptors in your body — and, in particular, the immune system.

When ECS receptors receive chemical signals, they enable your cells to respond to the stimuli, producing an anti-inflammatory effect that reduces swelling and pain. This process means that CBD products, like CBD oil, may help you deal with acute or chronic joint pain.

That said, studies on CBD for joint pain have primarily been done on animals.

A 2015 study found that a daily dose of 6.2 milligrams (mg) of CBD gel helped decrease joint pain and inflammation in rats with arthritis. Larger amounts, up to 62.3 mg per day, produced the same results but didn’t further reduce pain or produce more side effects.

While there are anecdotal reports from people who claim that CBD helps to treat joint pain, like rheumatoid arthritis, more human studies are needed to understand the benefits of CBD for joint pain.

Research into how CBD actually interacts with the body is still ongoing, but it seems to have an effect on pain receptors, which you have throughout your body.

One older study in rats found that cannabinoid receptors may play a role in joint inflammation, and that finding out how to target these receptors may lead to treatment advances for people with inflammatory pain.

In terms of arthritis, CBD may also act on receptors that impact inflammation.

We used standards for safety, quality, and transparency to make our selections. Each product selected:

  • is made by a company that provides proof of third-party testing by an ISO 17025-compliant lab
  • is made by a company that discloses the source of their hemp
  • contains no more than 0.3% THC, according to the certificate of analysis (COA)
  • passes tests for pesticides, molds, or heavy metals, according to the COA

We also consider the following when making our product picks:

  • company certifications and manufacturing processes
  • CBD potency
  • ingredients
  • indicators of user trust and brand reputation, like:
    • customer reviews
    • whether the company has been subject to an FDA warning letter
    • whether the company makes any unsupported health claims

Keep in mind that any CBD oil may help relieve joint pain. But some oils have additional ingredients, like camphor or essential oils, to help reduce pain or produce a sense of calm.

Pricing guide

  • $ = under $40
  • $$ = $40–$70
  • $$$ = over $70

Best overall CBD oil for joint pain

Charlotte’s Web CBD Oil

  • Price: $$$
  • CBD type: full-spectrum
  • CBD potency: 1,800 mg per 30-mililiter (mL) bottle
  • COA: available online

This ultra-potent CBD oil is made with organic hemp certified by the U.S. Hemp Authority.

The full-spectrum oil contains a host of terpenes, flavonoids, and phytocannabinoids. The oil is available in four flavors: olive oil-natural, orange blossom, mint chocolate, and lemon twist.

It’s pricier than other CBD oils, but that’s because it’s so concentrated. Charlotte’s Web offers discounts to veterans, members of the military, nurses, teachers and students, and first responders. There’s also a discount for subscriptions.

Pros

  • high potency
  • made with organic hemp
  • available in three flavors

Cons

  • high price point
  • full-spectrum CBD may not be for everyone
  • high potency may not appeal to those who are new to CBD

Use code “HEALTH20” for 20% off.

Best broad-spectrum CBD oil for joint pain

FOCL Premium CBD Drops

  • Price: $$
  • CBD type: broad-spectrum
  • CBD potency: 1,000 mg per 30-mL bottle
  • COA: available on product page

The orange cream flavor of this CBD oil is reminiscent of a Creamsicle. It also comes in several other flavors, plus an unflavored version if that’s more your style.

The no-frills product is made with organic medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) oil and broad-spectrum CBD, plus organic flavorings.

Vegan and verified non-GMO, it’s available in a high or low dose format. You can score a discount if you subscribe to receive regular shipments.

FOCL makes their CBD products with hemp grown in United States facilities that are compliant with good manufacturing processes (GMP).

Pros

  • available in three potencies
  • made with organic ingredients
  • choice of flavors

Cons

  • broad-spectrum CBD may not appeal to all consumers
  • limited flavor choices in some potencies

Use code “HEALTHLINE20 for 20 percent off your first order of FOCL (excludes bundles). Limited to one use per customer. Cannot be combined with other offers.

Best multipurpose CBD oil

Lord Jones Royal Oil

You can take this multipurpose oil by mouth or apply it directly to your skin. The carrier oil, grapeseed oil, gives the product a neutral taste and delivers a dose of moisture if applied topically. Since grapeseed oil and CBD are the only ingredients, this is a good choice if you’re looking for a basic product.

Each dropperful contains about 20 mg of CBD that you can rub onto sore spots or place under your tongue for full-body effects.

Lord Jones offers a subscription plan that lets you save 15% off on all your purchases.

Pros

  • can be ingested or used topically
  • mild, neutral flavor
  • made with just two ingredients

Cons

  • no choice of flavor
  • single option for potency

Best full-spectrum CBD oil for joint pain

CBDistillery Relief + Relax CBD Oil

  • Price: $
  • CBD type: full-spectrum
  • CBD potency: 500 mg per 30-mL bottle
  • COA: available on product page

This CBD oil from CBDistillery is one of the company’s most popular products.

The no-frills oil only contains MCT oil and full-spectrum CBD. Each 1-mL drop is estimated to contain about 17 mg of CBD.

CBDistillery is certified by the U.S. Hemp Authority, and they offer a discount to veterans, military members, firefighters, police officers, and emergency medical technicians.

Pros

  • moderate dose is a good option for those who are new to CBD
  • made with just two ingredients
  • discounts available for those who qualify

Cons

  • no choice of flavors
  • single option for potency

Use code “healthline” for 20% off sitewide or choose the subscription option for 20% off the first 2 subscription orders and 25% off the 3rd order.

Best CBD isolate oil for joint pain

LiftMode Hemp Hemp Extract Oil, Purified Mint

  • Price: $
  • CBD type: isolate
  • CBD potency: 1,500 mg per 30-mL bottle
  • COA: available online

If you prefer to steer clear of THC, this THC-free isolate oil may be right for you. It has a minty flavor and a handy dropper that makes it easy to dose accurately.

Each bottle contains 1,500 mg of CBD — good for experienced CBD users looking to increase their dosage. A full dropper contains roughly 50 mg of CBD.

In addition to sourcing all its ingredients from the United States, LiftMode Hemp products are vegan and GMO-free.

Pros

  • high potency
  • mint flavor
  • THC-free

Cons

  • isolate may not appeal to all consumers
  • single option for potency
  • single option for flavor

Interested in other CBD products?

Our evidence-driven reviews and comparisons break down the top CBD oils, gummies, creams, and more so you can feel confident choosing what’s right for you.

CBD OilPriceCBD TypeCBD Potency (mg)
Charlotte’s Web CBD Oil$$$full-spectrum1,800
FOCL Premium CBD Drops$$broad-spectrum1,000
Lord Jones Royal Oil$$broad-spectrum500
CBDistillery Relief + Relax CBD Oil$full-spectrum500
LiftMode Hemp Hemp Extract Oil, Purified Mint$isolate1,500

Here’s what you to look out for when shopping for CBD oil for joint pain.

CBD type

Not all types of CBD produce the same effects.

Some research suggests that CBD and THC together produce the “entourage effect.” This means that, when the two cannabinoids are used together, they may be more effective than using either THC or CBD alone.

In other words, CBD products that are full-spectrum may be more effective for joint pain than CBD isolate, which only contains CBD.

Third-party testing

CBD products aren’t regulated by the FDA in the same way as pharmaceutical drugs. The FDA can issue warning letters to companies making wild health claims, but despite this, companies can still mislabel and misrepresent their products.

You’ll have to do your own research to make sure a company is selling quality products. Check that the products come with an up-to-date, comprehensive COA from a reputable third-party lab.

Ingredients

Companies should be transparent about where they grow or source their hemp. If a company doesn’t provide information about how and where they make their products, that’s a red flag.

If you’re specifically looking for CBD oil to help with joint pain, any quality CBD product may help.

But for topical products, ingredients like arnica and essential oils, may provide additional pain relief. Warming or cooling ingredients, like menthol, may provide an added sensation that may help dull pain.

Always read the label on your CBD oil before using the product. Some oils are meant to be applied topically, while others are meant to be ingested. Some oils can be taken either way.

To use topical CBD oil, you can generally rub it directly on the painful joint. But it’s important to do a patch test first to make sure there are no adverse reactions with your skin. Also, be sure not to put the oil on broken skin.

To take an ingestible oil, place it under your tongue and hold it there for up to a minute before swallowing. Alternatively, add the oil to your food or drinks.

Dosage

Most CBD products, whether topical or ingestible, have recommended dose information on the bottle or packaging.

Dosage is pretty personal, though. An amount that works for someone else might be too much (or too little) for you. When in doubt, start with the smallest dose and work your way up.

If you don’t notice any effects right away, don’t immediately take more. It can take time to feel the effects of CBD.

Both human and animal studies suggest that CBD doesn’t produce ill effects in most people. Topical CBD products are even less likely to cause adverse reactions because they don’t typically enter the bloodstream.

While CBD is considered safe, it’s not unusual to experience some side effects, including:

  • appetite changes
  • diarrhea
  • weight changes
  • fatigue

Topical CBD products may also cause allergic reactions in some people.

Talk with your healthcare professional before using CBD products if you take any of the following:

  • prescription medication
  • supplements
  • over-the-counter medication

CBD may interact with medications or supplements that have a grapefruit warning.

If you’re experiencing pain, swelling, or stiffness in your joints, it’s a good idea to contact a healthcare professional for a diagnosis and treatment plan. Other symptoms that can indicate it’s time to consult a professional include redness or discoloration in a joint, joints that feel warm to the touch, or difficulty completing day-to-day activities.

It’s also important to speak with your healthcare professional if you’re considering trying CBD to relieve joint pain.

Can CBD help arthritis?

Maybe. Animal research suggests that CBD may help reduce inflammation and pain due to arthritis, but human trials are needed to better understand the role of CBD in treating joint pain. Anecdotally, though, some people swear by CBD for chronic pain.

What type of CBD is best for joint pain?

Ultimately, it comes down to your preference. Some people just don’t love swallowing earthy-tasting CBD. If that’s you, you might want to try a flavored oil or a topical product.

Keep in mind that if you have joint pain in a specific area, applying a topical product right where it hurts may deliver better results. But people with chronic, full-body pain may find they get more relief from ingesting CBD.

What strength of CBD is best for joint pain and arthritis?

This will vary from person to person. Start with a low potency option and work your way up until you feel the effects of the CBD. Ultimately, it may take some time to find the right strength and dosage for you.

Is CBD oil or cream better for joint pain?

They deliver the same results. Which one you choose depends on the consistency you prefer. Keep in mind, though, that you can’t eat CBD cream. Many CBD oils can be ingested and applied topically, but not CBD cream.

Is CBD oil safe for older adults?

More research is needed to definitively answer this question. But it’s also true that CBD is unlikely to cause serious side effects. Regardless of your age, be sure to talk with a healthcare professional before trying out CBD.

How long does it take for CBD oil to help with joint pain?

Everyone responds differently to CBD oil, so timelines can vary. According to the Arthritis Foundation, those who take CBD sublingually may begin noticing effects between 15 and 45 minutes.

There’s no guarantee that CBD oil will get rid of your joint pain. But there’s minimal risk in trying out CBD products, so long as you choose a high quality product and talk with a healthcare professional before you take it.

More research is needed to confirm the link between CBD and pain relief, but what we know so far is promising. CBD may help relieve joint pain without serious side effects and habit-forming risks.

Before you try CBD for joint pain, talk with your healthcare professional. They can let you know about potential drug interactions and help you determine the right dosage for you.

Is CBD legal?The 2018 Farm Bill removed hemp from the legal definition of marijuana in the Controlled Substances Act. This made some hemp-derived CBD products with less than 0.3% THC federally legal. However, CBD products containing more than 0.3% THC still fall under the legal definition of marijuana, making them federally illegal but legal under some state laws. Be sure to check state laws, especially when traveling. Also, keep in mind that the FDA has not approved nonprescription CBD products, and some products may be inaccurately labeled.


Steph Coelho is a freelance writer with chronic migraine who has a particular interest in health and wellness. When she’s not click-clacking away on her keyboard, she’s probably nose-deep in a good book.