For the first edition of our Cannabis and Conditions blog series, we decided to focus on a condition we get asked about a lot, and one of the most popular reasons why people seek out a medical marijuana card: Chronic Pain. The blog series will focus on an overview of the different conditions, typical treatments, and alternative treatments using cannabis. Be sure to check back weekly to see our newest editions!
Chronic pain is something that can be debilitating. People who are experiencing this suffer from some sort of pain that lasts more than 12 weeks, versus acute pain which is short and alerts our bodies of possible injury.
Some of the leading causes for chronic pain:
- Past injuries or surgeries
- Back problems
- Nerve damage
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 20.4% or 50 million adults in America have or had chronic pain, and 8% or 19.6 million American adults suffer from, or have suffered from, high-impact chronic pain. In both chronic pain and high-impact chronic pain, there is a higher prevalence of women, older adults, unemployed adults, and adults living in poverty.
Due to the fact that the term, chronic pain, incorporates so many unique situations, nailing down the exact symptoms is tricky. Some pains come and go, and some are always there as a constant reminder.
Pain, which has been described as throbbing, shooting, burning, stinging, soreness, stiffness, and/or a dull ache, is usually just part of the symptoms that come with this ailment. People suffering from this have been reported to feel tired, have a lack of appetite, mood changes, trouble sleeping at night, weak, and have an overall lack of energy. One of the biggest complaints about chronic pain is the affect it has on one’s mental health. The ailment interferes with everyday life and can cause people suffering from chronic pain to feel angry, depressed, and frustrated.
One of the most prevalent treatments for chronic pain is opiates. Taking prescribed pain killers can be effective if used for a short amount of time to manage pain. However, these medications are classified as narcotics, have many side effects, and can lead to a dangerous addiction of abuse, which in some cases can result in death from overdose. Some more natural ways to treat chronic pain include relaxation therapy, physical therapy, acupuncture, and overall lifestyle changes to be healthier.
Treating with Cannabis
One of the biggest factors of living with constant chronic pain is the toll it takes on daily life activities. Chronic pain can be more than debilitating for some, and with addictive and potentially life-ending opiates as the main source of treatment, many are looking to safer, alternative methods. Luckily, there is cannabis!
The main thing to keep in mind when it comes to cannabis and chronic pain is that no two people are alike, and neither is the pain they are experiencing. This makes it vital to experiment with the medication to find out what works best for you. Some have found that smoking or vaping cannabis puts their pain at ease, while others have found that the best treatment for their pain is to use low dose edibles. Some, who prefer not to feel “high,” like to take CBD daily to help with the symptoms of the pain. The anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties of the cannabinoid make it great for dealing with this condition.
It is also important to note, that although cannabis has been used to stop the consumption of opiates altogether, it’s not recommended that someone prescribed opiates suddenly stops taking them. Instead figure out a cannabis regimen that works for your pain and slowly decrease the number of opiates consumed.
According to Leafly.com, “In a comprehensive, Harvard-led systematic review of 28 studies examining the efficacy of exo-cannabinoids (e.g. synthetic formulations or cannabinoids from the plant) to treat various pain and medical issues, the author concluded, “Use of marijuana for chronic pain, neuropathic pain, and spasticity due to multiple sclerosis is supported by high quality evidence.”
Of the studies reviewed, six out of six general chronic pain studies and five out of five neuropathic pain studies found a significant improvement in symptoms among patients. Notably, while most of the studies were limited to synthetic preparations of cannabinoids, three of the five neuropathic pain studies investigated “smoked” cannabis, while two examined an oral spray preparation.
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If you are thinking about using cannabis as an alternative treatment, do your own research to obtain all the information necessary for you to make the decision. We can answer many questions and give you recommendations but the research and decision is up to you. We are not licensed physicians. All information presented here is not meant as a substitute for or alternative to information from health care practitioners. Please consult your health care professional about potential interactions or other possible complications before using any cannabis product. The Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act requires this notice.