Chronic pain is a form of pain that may last for weeks, months, or even years. It is the most common form of non-cancer chronic disease. Today, a variety of treatments, including medications, physiotherapy, nerve blocks/ablations, electrical neuromodulation, and complementary therapies like acupuncture, can treat chronic pain. However, one treatment option that is often overlooked is medical marijuana. This article will explore the benefits of using medical marijuana to treat chronic pain.
Medical Marijuana for Chronic Pain
Medical marijuana for chronic pain is a treatment option. The plant has been shown to relieve pain and inflammation and can be used in conjunction with other treatments such as those mentioned above. Numerous preclinical and clinical investigations have shown that cannabis and cannabinoids are beneficial in treating neuropathic pain.
The benefits of the marijuana plant extend beyond the tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) concentration, which is the chemical in the plant which causes the “high” that many purely recreational users seek. There are hundreds of other chemical compounds also found in the plant called cannabinoids. These are the primary elements found in currently available CBD products. We are beginning to understand that these other chemicals are responsible for many of the therapeutic effects of medical marijuana, leading to an “entourage effect,” which may explain why high concentrations of THC are not needed to achieve many of the beneficial effects of the many marijuana-based products.
Opioid medications are ineffective and/or pose greater risks for many patients, and medical providers should always utilize medications with the best risk-to-benefit ratio. When used in “medical” dosages with proper guidance and oversight, medical marijuana has proven to be a relatively safe option to treat chronic pain which is resistant to conventional treatments. Although it does carry abuse potential, the condition described as cannabis use disorder is typically only seen in young, chronic, recreational users who take cumulative doses far exceed that of the typical medical marijuana patient.