Medical Marijuana as a Treatment for Tenosynovitis

What is Tenosynovitis?
Tenosynovitis is the painful swelling of the tendon and the membrane around the tendon, known as the sheath. Most often, tenosynovitis occurs in the wrists, hands, and feet, since these areas are where the longer tendons are located, but it can happen all over the body at any tendon. Sometimes, the cause of the inflammation in the tendon and sheath are unknown, but common causes include:

  • Diseases causing inflammation
  • Injury
  • Strain
  • Overuse
  • Infection

There are many symptoms associated with tenosynovitis, and can include:

  • Having trouble moving a particular joint
  • Swelling of the joint in the afflicted region
  • Tenderness and pain, usually in the hand, wrist, or foot
  • A joint that is painful to move
  • Skin is red along the length of the tendon

If you are experiencing fever, pain or redness, these can be signs of an infection, especially if these symptoms were caused by a puncture or a cut.

How is tenosynovitis traditionally treated?
Typically, to treat tenosynovitis, a doctor might aim to reduce pain and to control the swelling. It is also very important to rest the affected tendon, and keep it as still as possible. It might be helpful to use a brace to keep the tendon still. Using heat and cold is helpful in decreasing the swelling. Drugs such as ibuprofen are good for relieving the pain as well as making the swelling go down. To manage the swelling, your doctor might also elect to give you an injection of corticosteroids. In severe cases, and especially with tenosynovitis as the result of an infection, you may also require surgery to treat tenosynovitis. 
What’s wrong with traditional treatments?
There is a long list of side effects that you may experience while taking over the counter pain medications such as ibuprofen, which is the ingrediant in Advil, and acetaminophen, the medicine in Tylenol. The side effects for acetaminophen include:
  • Nausea 
  • Rash
  • Liver damage
When taking acetaminophen in high doses, you might start to experience damage to your liver. Ibuprofen has its own list of side effects, including:
  • Upset stomach
  • Heartburn
  • Nausea
  • Stomach Ulcers
  • Kidney problems
Kidney problems can occur if you take ibuprofen over a long period of time. Sometimes, taking ibuprofen will increase your risk for having a heart attack or a stroke. 
Could medical marijuana help people with tenosynovitis?
Yes. Researchers from ETH Zurich and Bonn University have found that hemp oil, found in the cannabis plant, actually has some anti-inflammatory properties, which is good news for the people suffering from tenosynovitis. They have found that the substance beta-carophyllene activates the CB2 receptors, which are cannabinoid receptors, and are typically found on white blood cells. It is these receptors that are responsible for stemming inflammation. This is very good for people suffering from tenosynovitis because it reduces their dependence on non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), which can cause permanent damage to the liver or kidneys. Overall, scientists have discovered that marijuana can help ease the pain caused by the disease and help reduce inflammation. Furthermore, marijuana has a much lower chance of addiction than there is when you take the standard opioid pain relievers. 
Don’t take it from me, take it from the scientists!
According to WebMD , Dr. Mark Ware, a researcher at McGill University in Canada, has found that medical marijuana is effective in treating pain. He has conducted clinical trials on patients with chronic pain, and his results have shown that medical cannabis has good potential as a pain reliever. In his study, he gave three different potencies of medical marijuana to all of his patients, and one placebo, and none of the participants knew which was which. His conclusion was that cannabis, particularly tetrahydrocannabinol, one of the main components of marijuana, acts as an analgesic, meaning that it relieves pain. This is most likely due to the fact that in the central nervous system, there are receptors that control the signals that nerves send to the brain. When you take medical marijuana that is high in THC, it binds to the receptors which blocks the pain signals sent to your brain. 
What strains of marijuana work best for pain relief?
Typically, the best strains of marijuana for treating pain come from the plant cannabis indica. The indica plants have a high THC content, which is the cannabinoid that reduces pain, and it is also high in CBD, which gives the plant a high THC to CBD ratio. Basically the two cannabinoids balance each other out, reducing the paranoia associated with taking marijuana with high THC concentrations. The following strains are recommended specifically for pain relief:
  • Hindu Kush
  • Cali Gold
  • Purple Urkle
  • Grand Daddy Purple
  • White Berry
  • Northern Lights
  • Sensei Star
A Quick Recap
The bottom line is that medical marijuana can be very effective in treating tenosynovitis. Tenosynovitis is the condition in which the tendon and the tendon sheath become inflamed, and it can be very painful. While traditional medicine, which focuses on reducing the pain and inflammation, comes with a long list of nasty side effects such as stomach problems, kidney damage and liver damage, medical marijuana has very few side effects, and doesn’t carry the risk of addiction that traditional medicines do. Researchers have been doing studies for many years on whether or not medical marijuana is a viable alternative to traditional medicine in treating pain, and the science tends to side with medical marijuana. To treat tenosynovitis, you should look for a strain originating from the cannabis indica plant. It has a good THC to CBD ratio, so it treats pain while minimizing the risk of psychosis and anxiety that is present when you take a strain that’s high in THC but low in CBD and other cannabinoids. It is a common preconceived notion that people have that traditional medicine is always better. But in the end, it seems as if this rule doesn’t apply to medical marijuana because it is superior to traditional medicine because of the lower risk and greater effectiveness.