How does Medical Marijuana help with Chronic Pain?
The key benefits of using medical marijuana for helping in the relief of severe chronic pain is widely recognized, including some of the well-renowned associations such as the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American Public Health Association, the American Nurses Association and even by The New England Journal of Medicine.
To define chronic pain, experts associate its prevalence with such medical cases, in which patients experience such a pain, which has a continuing influence with a frequently recurring characteristic. This chronic definition filters out cases in which the patient might be suffering from symptoms of prevailing pain, but not a chronic one. According to a study in year 2000, a ratio of 70 to 80 percent of patients who were experiencing chronic pain, used medical marijuana as a treatment to contribute in their pain relief.
Since 1980, the American Chronic Pain Association (ACPA) has provided guidance through the maze of pain to health professionals, and the general public by offering peer support and education regarding pain management skills. This association was formulated by Penney Cowan, from Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, who has joined a pain management program at the Cleveland Clinic, where she adopted what she had learned to hear was a daily lifestyle. With her eagerness to transfer the acquired knowledge about pain management skills and help those who are suffering from chronic pain symptoms, she formed an ACPA support group.
With its success and popularity, Penney worked further on ACPA manuals and other support material that now help individuals to seek knowledge on improving their quality of life by making it pain free. The vast depth of knowledge and treatment of ACPA has now spread beyond borders, touching people’s lives through the USA, Canada, Great Britain, and many other countries.
Chronic pain, which has remained untreated over an extended period, may operate as a disease in itself since it may prevail longer than intended due to certain various environmental and psychological factors. Patients may develop chronic conditions that may be associated with the development of Endometriosis, Fibromyalgia, Inflammatory Bowel disease, Intestinal Cystitis, Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Vulvodynia, or even a combination of these syndromes. Cannabis derived from medical marijuana is believed with scientific evidence, to provide better quality of life by treating prevailing chronic pain that may be caused by the above-mentioned conditions.
The two active chemicals that researchers believe to have medical application associated within marijuana is, cannabidiol (CBD) which eases out the brain nerves, and the second being tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) which is linked with pain relieving properties.
Chronic back pain is the most piercing of all chronic pain types. If chronic back pain is prevalent in a patient for more than three months, it is likely that the patient may develop psychological, social or even physical dysfunction, if such symptoms are left untreated.
Most people may have chronic headaches from time to time, and ignoring such consistent symptoms may not be doing any good to your nervous system at all. According to a statistical survey, over 30 million people in the U.S. suffer from pulsating chronic headaches, which in turn raises associated symptoms including nausea, vomiting and even hypersensitivity to light. People who have tested the use of marijuana as an alternative treatment therapy for chronic headaches are satisfied with the results and are convinced it does help them. Some patients who have tried alternative treatments such as spine tap therapy, brain-waves studies or others, regard the effects of using cannabis for treating chronic migraines more feasible and valuable.
According to Philip Denney, MD, Co-founder of a medical cannabis evaluation practice, “Cannabis is one of the best medicines for migraines. It’s so effective, it works rapidly, and it has limited toxicity…” (June 2005). In addition, a recent publication from the University of California, San Francisco, incorporated in the Journal of Neuroscience, a valuable explanation suggesting use of both triptans, and marijuana to prevent chronic headaches was integrated with sufficient statistical evidence supporting the research.
The Chronic Pain Syndrome (CPS) is a diagnosable symptom when the prevailing pain displays a recurring presence for three to six months. In some severe cases, a patient may be experiencing two or more co-existing ongoing pain syndrome, or even a widespread generalized pain in the body. Medical marihuana is recognized to be used in the treatment of such syndrome-associated problems, and patients rarely experience recurrence of such chronic pain after its use.
A study conducted by a Canadian team of researchers has revealed that three puffs of a marijuana cigarette a day can help people suffering from chronic nerve pain induced by injury or surgery. The cannabis is seen to alleviate the pain and helps them sleep better.
The study was headed by McGill assistant professor Mark Ware, and it was far more extensive that just giving patients marijuana cigarettes. The clinical trial involved a comparison of placebos with three doses of cannabis very different from each other. It earned Ware’s team a publication in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.
The team observed 21 men and women suffering from chronic nerve pain with an average age of 45. An example of the kind of patients included in the study was one who has recently undergone knee surgery which involved the surgeon cutting a nerve, in turn causing chronic pain after the surgery. They tried and tested three different strengths of marijuana; the highest concentration one had 9.4 percent THC herbal cannabis, the other ones were at 6 percent and 2.5 percent THC.
The trial lasted two months during which each person used all three kinds of the drug and the placebo. The patients were rotated through the different strength groups in different orders without knowledge of the difference. The cannabis was in the form of gelatin capsules and was smoked through a pipe. Each patient would inhale the pipe for 5 seconds while it was lit, keep the smoke in their lungs for ten seconds before exhaling.
A single puff was given to the patients in each of the four groups three times a day for five days. The subjects still continued taking their routine medications during the trial. After every five-day trial, the patients had to rate their pain on a scale of zero to 10 with 10 as the worst possible case.
Those who were on the highest concentration dose, 9.4 percent reported reduced pain with a rating of 5.4. Those who were on the placebo rated their pain a 6.1. Although the difference is hardly noticeable it is very important in terms of the pain scale. The study has proved that marihuana is an analgesic and has value in the field of medicine.
The only side effects reported by patients were headache, numbness, cough, dry eyes and a burning sensation in the region of chronic pain. The highest concentration at 9.4 percent is still much lower in THC than the marijuana sold by drug dealers. Marijuana on the street varies at 10 to 15 percent. Ware reported that marijuana lessens the pain by altering the nerve function.