Chronic Pain: Can Medical Cannabis Help?

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We all experience aches and pain at some point in our lives. This is something that is difficult to avoid as our body is meant to feel when something is not right, and our pain receptors throughout our body are designed to send signals to our brain so we can do something about what’s causing it. It can be a little puncture, a pulled muscle, a cut on the skin, headaches brought about by too much stress, or any physical affliction, all of which can be a source of pain. And when we experience such discomfort, we seek solutions to heal our bodies and eliminate the unpleasant feeling brought by physical irregularity.

Each of us has varying reactions when it comes to dealing with pain. You may wonder why some people hurt easily while some don’t even react much when something is supposed to be painful for another. The reason behind this is that some individuals have high pain tolerance, while some feel worse even at a low pain threshold. It is suggested that pain sensitivity is inherited or has something to do with genetic factors. 

There are two main types of pain – acute and chronic. Acute pain is the most common type we all have experienced at some point. It can be mild, short-lived, or severe, but it does not last for weeks or more than six months. When the source or injury has been treated, the pain also goes away.

While some pains can be easily managed and disappear after a short period, chronic or persistent pain is the opposite. It is a long-standing, complex condition that can last for more than six months or longer even when the underlying cause has been treated. This often relates to chronic health conditions as the pain stays on. It can be on and off or continuous, even when the patient is undergoing treatment or taking medication.

Most Common Health Conditions That Cause Chronic Pain

Multiple sclerosis

This condition is referred to as an autoimmune disease with an unknown cause. It affects the body by impairing the immune system and causing it to attack and damage the myelin sheath made of proteins and fatty substance that protects the nerves surrounding the brain and spinal cord. 

The symptoms of MS usually appear between the age of 20 to 40 and can be persistent or may come and go. Some of these include pain, muscle spasms, stiffness and weakness, numbness and tingling, fatigue, vision problems, depression and anxiety, and more.

When it comes to pain, MS patients can experience various kinds of discomfort relating to this condition. Because it damages the nerves, it can cause acute pain in the form of muscle spasms and can also manifest in back pain due to incorrect posture and difficulty in movement. Pain in the hips, legs, and arms can also manifest, especially when the patient is immobile. And patients can also experience chronic painful sensations on the skin.

Cancer

Even with medical advancements, cancer is one of the most complex diseases to treat. Although there are effective therapies, cancer, until today, still has no cure. This disease is characterized by the uncontrollable growth of abnormal cells, which can start and spread anywhere in the body.

The symptoms of cancer vary depending on which body part is affected. However, general indications can be determined as early signs of this disease. This includes weight changes, fatigue, lumps under the skin, redness or sores that won’t heal, unexplainable muscle or joint pain, trouble breathing, changes in bowel, and many more.

All types of cancer can be pain-causing, depending on many factors. This includes the type of cancer, bone cancer being the most painful. The cancer stage is another factor, whether it has metastasized to other organs or parts of the body. The treatments the patient is receiving can also cause pain, like in the case of chemotherapy, where one can experience chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy.

While there are multitudes of other diseases that can cause chronic pain, it is crucial that you do not ignore it when your body is telling you something. Often, medical providers conduct comprehensive and accurate assessments because managing chronic pain can be diverse as this can last for a long time, and identifying its cause can be complicated.

Can Cannabis Help Relieve Pain?

Amidst the legalization of medical cannabis in the UK in 2018, recreational use is still illegal as it is still under the Class B of drug classifications. But with the medical provisions, those who are given prescriptions by specialist doctors are legally allowed to get cannabis-based medicine from dispensaries. With more and more countries legalizing’s cannabis, you may wonder what is with weed that draws many people to it. Can this plant really help with pain and other chronic illnesses?

Cannabis or marijuana is a famous plant worldwide with a long history of use. Initially cultivated for religious ceremonies and medicinal purposes in Asia in the early times, the evolution of cannabis has indeed come a long way. In fact, in today’s world, there are many ways on how patients can use medical cannabis. Besides the classic use of flowers, they are also available in the forms of spray, oils, and topicals. 

Cannabis effects on people are said to be a personalized experience. Depending on the individual’s physical state, the purpose it is used for and how it is used bear a factor on the effects. While some swear by the benefits of using cannabis to relieve their stress and anxiety and regulate sleep, there are those who are confident in its pain-relieving properties.

Aside from increasing anecdotal evidence, the growing scientific studies on how cannabis works in our bodies have been shedding light on its influence on pain relief. In relation to this, scientific research about the impact of medical cannabis on chronic pain suggests that it has the potential to be an alternative or adjunctive treatment for patients with chronic pain. 

The presence of organic compounds in cannabis is responsible for the benefits it gives the body. Cannabinoids are abundant in this plant and are suggested to interact with the endocannabinoid systems (ECS), which are responsible for some of the body’s processes, including pain control. Cannabidiol (CBD) and delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) are the two most abundant compounds aside from over 100 more cannabinoids, which, when present altogether in the body, can provide more beneficial effects.

Take Away

When we feel something is off in our body, especially when pain is present, we should not ignore it as it may result in more extensive health problems. You should also not accept pain as part of your daily life. If you want optimal wellness, it is best to seek help instead of waiting for things to get worse. At our present time, there are tons of solutions available to address pain, including alternative medicine like cannabis.

Clearly, the use of cannabis as a medical alternative to treat pain has a long way to go before it becomes fully available in the market for the general masses. However, with continuing research efforts, more and more evidence and justifications will come to light. For now, make sure that you consult a specialist about using medical cannabis instead of practicing self-treatment.

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