- Jennifer Betz
Scientific Research Supports Using Cannabis to Treat Pain of All Kinds!
Out of all of Virginia’s qualifying conditions for treatment with medical marijuana, chronic pain is the most common among Virginia Marijuana Card’s patients. And with good reason. One in five American adults are living with chronic pain, sometimes described as intractable pain.
While research into the use of medical marijuana for chronic pain has been limited in the US and Europe, scientific backing is growing. Keep reading to learn more about the types of pain cannabis can treat, and how a growing body of research supports the use of marijuana as a treatment for one of the most prevalent conditions among American adults.
Medical Marijuana: Not Just for Stoners Anymore
Between the beginning of Richard Nixon’s War on Drugs and the most recent decade, statements about using cannabis to treat back pain or glaucoma were greeted with a knowing “Okay, Stoner” kind of smirk.
Cannabis aficionados and non-users alike largely bought into the stigma associated with marijuana use, and acknowledgement of marijuana as a legitimate medicine has come begrudgingly at best.
Those not in the field of medicine got caught up in the misconceptions surrounding cannabis, and doctors and researchers rejected claims about the healing properties of marijuana as anecdotal and incomplete.
Marijuana as Medicine is Finally Getting Some Recognition in the American Scientific Community
Despite resistance from old-fashioned lawmakers concerned about marijuana being a gateway drug, and regular American citizens certain that legalization will corrupt the future for our children, we’re in a new era of scientific research. A growing interest in embracing plant medicine as a way out of the greedy grip of Big Pharma has inspired new studies that are confirming what many of us (and researchers in Israel) have known all along:
Marijuana is effective at reducing pain.
And not just your run-of-the-mill back pain, either. Studies conducted within the last five or ten years have indicated that cannabis products—including high CBD products and those with plenty of THC as well—can be used to reduce nerve pain, muscle spasms, inflammation, and pain related to injuries. Cannabis use may increase tolerance to pain and reduce the use of opioids as well.
If we can begin to scientifically understand and harness the power of marijuana—specifically medical marijuana—to treat the chronic pain so prevalent among Americans, we will forge a path to a healthier nation, as well as an end to the deadly opioid epidemic that has ravaged both the rich and the poor since the 1990s.
If you are reading this because you want a way to get pain relief through legal medical marijuana in your state, check out the list of qualifying conditions for medical marijuana in Virginia here. Call us at (888) 633-5808 to get your questions answered, or click here to schedule an appointment with a Virginia medical marijuana doctor online or in-person.
Keep reading to learn more about using medical marijuana to treat your specific kind of pain, reduce your prescription medication intake, and start to feel like yourself again.
THC Can Significantly Reduce Pain Intensity
Marijuana has been touted as an analgesic, and there may be some scientific evidence supporting that. Some studies indicate that THC may be as effective as codeine at relieving pain, but the most compelling evidence for cannabis in pain reduction comes with studies examining other symptoms in addition to pain.
For example, a recent study presented at the American College of Rheumatology’s 2021 meeting indicated that Fibromyalgia patients experienced a reduction in pain intensity that was correlated with improvement in sleep problems and negative affect (anxiety and depression) after the onset of treatment with cannabis.
Additionally, participants reported an increase in well-being, which was correlated with a reduction in pain intensity and negative affect.
It’s unclear whether cannabis use directly decreased pain intensity, or if reduced anxiety and depression along with better sleep facilitated by cannabis use led to less pain intensity. However, for patients living with chronic pain, getting better sleep and being in a better mood sounds like a dream come true. Add the correlation to pain relief into the mix, and marijuana begins to look more and more like a genuine pain management solution.
Cannabis for Nerve Pain
People living on the pins and needles of neuropathic pain (nerve pain) manage to power through most parts of their lives; but the constant push to ignore this invisible sort of misery can be exhausting.
Neuropathic pain is a result of conditions affecting either the central or peripheral nervous system, and it’s one of the more difficult types of chronic pain to treat. Neuropathic pain can be described as the absence of sensation or increased sensation, and sometimes both at the same time.
Several studies indicate that marijuana may provide some relief from neuropathic pain. Specifically, THC interacts with cannabinoid, opioid and serotonin receptors, to create an analgesic effect on patients experiencing neuropathic pain. CBD alone may also help reduce nerve pain, but CBD and THC together is the winning combination for neuropathic pain.
Muscle Spasms and Spasticity Relieved With Marijuana
Muscle spasms can be caused by injury or underlying conditions like multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease. Those with any sort of spinal cord injury are also prone to spasticity as well, which can keep anyone living with this symptom up at night and stiff throughout the day—sometimes to the point of being unable to move.
Patients living with multiple sclerosis may have the most experience in using medical marijuana for muscle spasms under scientific study. The drugs used to treat spasticity in MS can create some rather unpleasant side effects, and medical marijuana is seen as a bit of a lifesaver among many with this diagnosis.
A web-based survey conducted in 2016 by the Michael J. Fox Foundation and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society found that more than 40% of patients with MS or Parkinson’s disease were using cannabis to treat their symptoms. They reported a reduction in neurological dysfunction, improvement in mood and fatigue, and lowered reliance on prescription medications for symptoms.
Some patients reported a reduction of tremors that are often associated with conditions that cause muscle spasms as a result of marijuana use, and the ability to simply relax plays an important role in treating pain related to spasticity.
Cannabis Reduces Inflammation
Inflammation can be a real pain—pun intended. The immune system’s inflammatory response to whatever it seems to choose is an inevitable part of aging. Some believe inflammation is the underlying cause of most disease processes, and there is reason to believe that systemic inflammation causes heart disease and diabetes.
People living with conditions like arthritis and Crohn’s disease know from direct experience how debilitating it can be to suffer the effects of inflammation.
Medical marijuana has proven to be an undisputed anti-inflammatory in certain cases, and recent studies show that participants report feeling better, have lowered biomarkers of inflammation, and may even be able to reduce their dependence on NSAIDs and steroids when they use medical marijuana.
Medical Marijuana for Injuries
It’s unclear whether medical marijuana can help relieve the acute pain associated with injuries, but we know that it can help with the chronic pain that may come down the road as a result of a major injury.
In addition to the analgesic effects of cannabis, its ability to reduce inflammation, and the neuroprotective properties that may mitigate the effects of nerve damage, marijuana has been a major substance of interest among professional athletes. Recent scientific investigation indicates that cannabis may provide relief from traumatic brain injuries (TBI) and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), and it may help athletes train more effectively by reducing recovery time and increasing tolerance to pain.
Cannabis Increases Pain Tolerance
Because American studies have been limited, researchers are hesitant to say whether marijuana actually reduces pain or if the increase in pain tolerance is what makes patients feel better.
And while most of us would prefer a simple reduction in pain, an increase in pain tolerance is almost as good. To be able to go about your daily life, keep up with the kids and grandkids, build that craft shed you’ve been wanting, and enjoy the scenery from the overlook you have to hike to—without your pain being the focus—is a welcome change for many.
Increased pain tolerance may even lead to a reduction in pain as well. If your pain doesn’t bother you through the night, then you’re likely to get a better night’s sleep. Which usually leads to a reduction in pain.
The same effects often go for improved mood and affect. Having a higher pain tolerance can lead to being less anxious and depressed, which can in turn help quiet the body’s responses that cause pain.
Cannabis May Reduce Dependence on Opioids
When prescribed and used properly, opioids serve as a treatment that helps people take back control of their lives as they battle severe chronic pain. However, the addictive properties of opioids, along with their high risk for abuse, has led to the destruction of lives and families all over the United States and the world.
Opioid addiction can begin to set in as quickly as two weeks after a patient begins use, and it may happen even faster for some. What’s even more alarming, an annual drug use survey indicated that 50 percent of people who had used heroin had previously been using opioids.
The good news is that cannabis may be a partial solution to the opioid crisis. A compelling literature review published in 2020 indicated that cannabis may lead to a 65 - 74 percent reduction in opioid dosage, and that as many as 60 percent of patients treating non-cancer related pain could completely replace opioid use with medical marijuana.
You Don’t Have to be High to Treat Your Pain With Medical Marijuana
One of the best things about treating your pain with the medical marijuana available at Virginia dispensaries, is the fact that you can get results with little to no impairment.
Unlike marijuana products that are sold on the black market in Virginia, cannabis at licensed dispensaries is regulated and made to fit all lifestyles and preferences. Patients can find marijuana products that are lower in THC and higher in CBD to make it through a busy day pain-free; and dispensaries also offer cannabis products higher in THC to help you get a better night’s sleep or manage your pain when it’s most intense.
The availability of edibles, tinctures and topicals means that you don’t have to smoke marijuana in order to get pain relief; but vape pens, cartridges and marijuana flower are also for sale, satisfying patients who prefer to inhale marijuana for faster onset of effects.
Find Out How to Use Medical Marijuana to Treat Your Pain—Virginia Marijuana Card Doctors are Here to Help!
Living with chronic pain affects your daily habits and routines, your livelihood, and even your relationships. Pain that doesn’t go away can cause depression and anxiety, and it may significantly reduce your sense of well-being.
Fortunately, chronic pain doesn’t have to control your life. Scientific research continues to support the use of medical marijuana to treat most kinds of pain, including nerve pain (neuropathic pain), muscle spasms (spasticity) and inflammation.
Cannabis containing THC and CBD can help reduce pain intensity, increase tolerance to pain, and reduce or eliminate dependence on opioids, NSAIDs and steroids.
With so many benefits to using medical marijuana to treat chronic pain, there’s no reason to hold off any longer. Get natural relief that works, by booking an appointment with a medical marijuana doctor who can help you understand how to use cannabis for pain.
Talk to Virginia Marijuana Card today at (888) 633-5808, for a healthier tomorrow!
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Call us at (888) 633-5808, or simply book a medical marijuana evaluation to start getting relief you can trust today!
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Check out Virginia Marijuana Card’s Blog to keep up to date on the latest medical marijuana news, tips, and information.