Research Brief – Topical Cannabinoid Treatment of Thumb Basal Joint Arthritis

Heineman JT, Forster GL, Stephens KL, Cottler PS, Timko MP, DeGeorge BR. A randomized controlled trial of topical cannabidiol for the treatment of thumb basal joint arthritis. The Journal of Hand Surgery. 2022;47(7):611-620. doi:10.1016/j.jhsa.2022.03.002

The Study

This randomized placebo study aimed to evaluate the effect of topical cannabidiol (CBD) application in the treatment of basal joint arthritis symptoms. Basal joint arthritis affects a part of the thumb next to the wrist; it is a prevalent type of arthritis. Wear of cartilage at the ends of bones that form your thumb’s joint causes the condition. Symptoms include pain, particularly with pinching or grabbing movements.

Study Findings

The phase two, randomized placebo study involved the treatment of either a placebo or topical (i.e., on the skin) CBD to participants with thumb basal joint arthritis. A 6.2 mg/ml dose of topical CBD treatment was administered twice daily for two weeks.

There was a significant improvement in pain measurements among participants who received CBD. No adverse effects were observed. Scientists noted an improvement in hand range of motion or grasp strength among those who received CBD.


Researchers found that topical CBD treatment significantly reduced pain and disability in thumb basal joint arthritis without adverse effects.

Link to study:

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