Chronic pain is a common complaint among patients, and rheumatic diseases are a common cause for chronic pain. Current pharmacological interventions for chronic pain are not always useful or safe enough for long-term use. Cannabis and cannabinoids are currently being studied due to their potential as analgesics. In this review we will discuss current literature regarding cannabinoids and cannabis as treatment for rheumatic diseases. Cannabinoids and cannabis are commonly investigated as analgesic agents, but in recent years more evidence has accumulated on their potential immune-modulatory effect, supported by results in animal models of certain rheumatic diseases. While results that demonstrate the same effect in humans are still lacking, cannabinoids and cannabis remain potential drugs to alleviate the pain associated with rheumatic diseases, as they were shown to be safe and to cause limited adverse effects.
As medical use of cannabis is increasingly legalized worldwide, a better understanding of the medical and hazardous effects of this drug is imperative. The pain associated with rheumatic diseases is considered a prevalent indication for medicinal cannabis in various countries. The potential medicinal effects of cannabis could be attributable to its influence on the immune system, as it exerts an immunomodulatory effect on various immune cells, including T cells, B cells and macrophages.