An open-label feasibility trial of transdermal cannabidiol for hand osteoarthritis


Sci Rep. 2024 May 23;14(1):11792. doi: 10.1038/s41598-024-62428-x.


Hand osteoarthritis (OA) is an irreversible degenerative condition causing chronic pain and impaired functionality. Existing treatment options are often inadequate. Cannabidiol (CBD) has demonstrated analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects in preclinical models of arthritis. In this open-label feasibility trial, participants with symptomatically active hand OA applied a novel transdermal CBD gel (4% w/w) three times a day for four weeks to their most painful hand. Changes in daily self-reported pain scores were measured on a 0-10 Numeric Pain Rating Scale (NPRS). Hand functionality was determined via daily grip strength measures using a Bluetooth equipped squeeze ball and self-report questionnaire. Quality of life (QoL) ratings around sleep, anxiety, stiffness and fatigue were also measured. All self-report measures and grip strength data were gathered via smartphone application. Urinalysis was conducted at trial end to determine systemic absorption of CBD. Eighteen participants were consented and 15 completed the trial. Pain ratings were significantly reduced over time from pre-treatment baseline including current pain (- 1.91 ± 0.35, p < 0.0001), average pain (- 1.92 ± 0.35, p < 0.0001) and maximum pain (- 1.97 ± 0.34, p < 0.0001) (data represent mean reduction on a 0-10 NPRS scale ± standard error of the mean (SEM)). A significant increase in grip strength in the treated hand (p < 0.0001) was observed although self-reported functionality did not improve. There were significant (p < 0.005) improvements in three QoL measures: fatigue, stiffness and anxiety. CBD and its metabolites were detected at low concentrations in all urine samples. Measured reductions in pain and increases in grip strength seen during treatment reverted back towards baseline during the washout phase. In summary, pain, grip strength and QoL measures, using smartphone technology, was shown to improve over time following transdermal CBD application suggesting feasibility of this intervention in relieving osteoarthritic hand pain. Proof of efficacy, however, requires further confirmation in a placebo-controlled randomised trial.Trial registration: ANZCTR public trials registry (ACTRN12621001512819, 05/11/2021).

PMID:38783008 | DOI:10.1038/s41598-024-62428-x