Medical Marijuana for Chronic Pain
Medical marijuana has been gaining more attention in recent years as a possible treatment option for chronic pain. As someone who has personally treated patients who have struggled with chronic pain, I know firsthand how debilitating it can be and how desperately one can seek solutions. And it seems that for some people, medical marijuana may be just that.
What is Chronic Pain?
Chronic pain is defined as pain that persists for longer than three months and can be caused by a variety of conditions such as arthritis, fibromyalgia, and nerve damage. Chronic pain can also have no actual tissue damage or source; in fact, many cases of chronic pain are characterized this way. Traditional treatments for chronic pain include medications such as opioids, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), muscle relaxers, anticonvulsants, and antidepressants. However, these treatments can come with a host of unwanted side effects and can even be addictive. We all know and understand the terrible toll opioids have taken on our society.
How Can Medical Marijuana Help?
Medical marijuana, on the other hand, has been found to have potential pain-relieving properties with a much better side-effect profile than narcotics. The active compounds in marijuana, called cannabinoids, interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system, which plays a role in regulating pain, among other things.
Studies have shown that medical marijuana can be effective in reducing chronic pain, muscle spasms, and stiffness caused by conditions such as multiple sclerosis, and it can also be used as an appetite stimulant for people who have chronic illnesses that cause weight loss. In my professional experience, I have found Medical Marijuana to be especially powerful for neuropathic pain and to assist with sleep efforts.
The Legality of Medical Marijuana
It’s important to note that the legality of medical marijuana varies from state to state. Currently, 36 states and the District of Columbia have legalized medical marijuana, however the federal government still considers marijuana to be a Schedule I controlled substance, which means it is illegal under federal law. Therefore, it is important to check with your state laws and regulations before using medical marijuana as a treatment option.
To use medical marijuana for chronic pain, you will need to have a recommendation from a licensed medical professional and will be required to register with the state’s medical marijuana program. Once you have your recommendation, you will be able to purchase medical marijuana from a licensed dispensary. I am aware of no situations where Marijuana is a covered product by insurance.
Not All Strains are Created Equal
It is important to note that not all marijuana strains are created equal, and different strains may have different effects. It is recommended to talk to a medical professional to determine the best strain and method of administration for you. I have been doing informal research with my patients and have confirmed that Indica strains tend to be more calming than Sativa strains.
Be Sure to Consult Your Physician
While more research is needed to fully understand the effectiveness of medical marijuana for treating chronic pain, the studies currently available provide promising results. And as someone who has treated patients who have struggled with chronic pain, and provided medical marijuana recommendations for my patients, I hope that this alternative treatment option can continue to bring relief to those who need it. If you are considering medical marijuana as a treatment option for chronic pain, it is important to consult with a licensed medical professional and familiarize yourself with your state’s laws and regulations.