Medical Marijuana for Chronic Pain

What is Chronic Pain?

Chronic pain is any pain that lasts 3 to 6 months or longer. For some, the pain is constant and for others, it comes and goes. The causes of chronic pain include, but are not limited to:

  • Past injuries and surgeries
  • Migraines
  • Arthritis
  • Nerve damage
  • Infections
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Cancer
  • Gastrointestinal diseases

Chronic pain can limit a person’s ability to perform everyday activities, which can result in a depression or anxiety response. This depression can in turn worsen the pain, which worsens the depression, and the cycle can continue if it’s not interrupted. Therefore, the mood-boosting effects of cannabis may play a significant role in pain relief.

What are the Current Treatments for Chronic Pain?

The current treatments for chronic pain include:

  • Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)
  • Opioid pain medications
  • Muscle relaxants
  • Lidocaine and Fentanyl patches
  • Antidepressants
  • Massage
  • Physical therapy
  • Acupuncture
  • Healthy lifestyle

Many of these treatments have drawbacks such as undesired side effects and limited pain relief. This leaves patients searching for something that can provide pain relief without adversely impacting their lives. Medical marijuana is emerging as a strong potential treatment for chronic pain.

Can Medical Marijuana Treat Chronic Pain?

It must be emphasized that more research is needed before the medical community can conclusively determine how effective medical marijuana is for treating chronic pain. However, cannabis has been used for pain treatment since ancient times and there is clinical evidence suggesting many sufferers of chronic pain are finding relief in medical marijuana.

Here is some of the evidence we have so far:

  • In 2018, 86% of the medical marijuana cards issued in Arizona were to help with severe and chronic pain.
  • A 2015 review published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) stated that “the average number of patients who reported a reduction in pain of at least 30% was greater with cannabinoids than with placebo.”
  • A 2017 National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine report on one of the most comprehensive reviews (over 10,000 studied reviewed) of recent research on the health effects of cannabis use found that there is “conclusive or substantial evidence (the most definitive classification of findings) that cannabis or cannabinoids, found in the marijuana plant, can be an effective treatment for chronic pain”
  • Pain patients involved in one 2016 University of Michigan study reported a 64% reduction in their use of traditional opioid prescription pain medications after beginning to use medical marijuana. Patients also reported fewer side effects from their prescription medications and a 45% improvement in quality of life since using cannabis to manage pain.

These findings are encouraging and speak to the need for more research to determine how medical marijuana can best treat chronic pain and what components of the plant are most therapeutic for chronic pain patients.

There are many options available to patients seeking pain relief from cannabis. Treating chronic pain with medical marijuana often requires a personalized approach and may require periodic adjustments to achieve optimal relief. At The Prime Leaf, we have an experienced staff of knowledgeable Patient Consultants to help get you started on your pain relief journey. Stop by our store today.