Chronic Pain Management With Cannabis
Everyone experiences pain at some point or another, but for many, living with chronic pain is a daily reality. In managing chronic pain, opioid medications are very effective. The downside of these medications is their high potential for physiological addiction and fatal overdose. On the quest for a safer alternative, many have found cannabis-based medications to be effective in managing their pain without the downsides opioids bring to the table. We’ll give the rundown on how cannabis can help manage various types of chronic pain, and even some types of pain that are more immediate.
Cannabis for Chronic Pain
According to WebMD, one of the foremost medical websites on the Internet, smoking marijuana relieves nerve pain brought on by injury or surgery. Nerve pain, or neuralgia, is more difficult to treat than other types of pain because it does not respond as well to standard pain medication such as opioids. Marijuana’s distinction as being able to effectively relieve nerve pain makes it a much less harmful alternative.
Another study found cannabis to be more effective than placebo in treating the “debilitating pain” many sufferers of a central nervous system disease called multiple sclerosis (MS) experience. This is of particular importance because the opioids used to treat “debilitating pain” are among the strongest – and most addictive – in their class. When compared to cannabis’s incidence rate of exactly zero overdoses year after year, it should be substituted for opioid medication whenever possible.
Researchers elsewhere made similar findings, noting that Sativex, a cannabis-based oral spray, was effective in treating neuropathic pain like that experienced from MS. Notably, they found the same spray also relieves rheumatoid arthritis and cancer pain. Sufferers of rheumatoid arthritis and cancer usually struggle with the pain from the condition for an extended amount of time. Utilizing cannabis over opioid pain medications means avoiding the risk of becoming physiologically addicted to the latter.
Cannabis Eases Chemotherapy
Chemotherapy is an extremely common – and extremely taxing – treatment used for cancer patients in hopes of eliminating the cancerous tissue in the body. With the treatment comes a host of serious side effects that leave patients around the world wanting for relief. These include muscle spasms, nausea, vomiting, and headaches. A 2012 study found that cannabis-based medications alleviated these symptoms where conventional treatments failed. That means that some patients required these cannabis-based medications to relieve their symptoms adequately! As if that wasn’t impressive enough, the researchers noted that these drugs also help stimulate the appetites of HIV/AIDS patients. The ability of cannabis to make chemotherapy tolerable morally obliges us to continue researching its effectiveness and implementing its use.
While not unique to chemotherapy patients, another study noted that cannabis has properties which relieve headaches. Granted, there are other over-the-counter medications that also effectively treat headaches, but these drugs do put some stress on the liver that cannabis does not. For some headache sufferers, their livers are already under enough stress from a multiplicity of other medications, making cannabis an ideal candidate in treating their headaches. The study also notes that migraines, a severe form of headaches, are also relieved by cannabis. Because of the pain of a migraine, some sufferers may opt to use both cannabis and over-the-counter medications in tandem as treatment.
Cannabis’s use as a tool for pain management is broad in scope and effective in nature. Coupled with its low cost, lack of toxicity, and relatively low potential for addiction, its use in place of opioid medications should be instated whenever possible.