Medical Marijuana for Chronic Pain Management
What are the facts? How does it compare with Opiates? How do you get it?
This is a topic that has elicited a great deal of controversy in recent years. Should marijuana be prescribed for patients suffering with chronic pain? If you’re one of those individuals whose life has been terribly challenged by relentless pain, you may be desperate enough to try just about anything. When it comes to medical marijuana, what are the facts? Is it safe? Does it really work? Here are some findings you may find interesting.
Marijuana (also known as cannabis) is the common name for the cannabis sativa, or hemp plant. The leaves and flowers of the plant contain a chemical known as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) which is responsible for inducing the effects most people associate with marijuana. This plant has been used for over 5,000 years as a pain treatment. In the late 19th century and into the 20th, marijuana was often used for medicinal purposes but was banned in Canada in the 1920’s. There has been pressure in recent years to re-establish its legality for medicinal use.
Dr. Mark Ware, a pain specialist at McGill University Health Centre noted that cannabis users actually improved significantly more than the control group. A study in the Journal of Pain (2004-2008) followed a group of 215 cannabis users suffering from chronic pain and compared them to 216 patients also suffering from chronic pain but who were not using marijuana. They discovered that cannabis users actually improved significantly more than the control group. Furthermore, Dr. Ware said there had been no adverse neurological effects due to marijuana usage. Blood tests showed no ill-effects on kidney, liver or hormonal function in these patients.
Marijuana vs. Opioids
Although most of the medical community still opposes the use of medical marijuana, the more conventional narcotics generally prescribed for pain control still come with many adverse effects. These are highly addictive and increased dosages are often required to reap the benefits. Furthermore, gastric bleeding, stroke, heart attack as well as kidney and liver disease may develop from long-term usage. However, the biggest risk to using opiates is in overdosing. Approximately 75,000 Americans are hospitalized yearly because of overdosing or other complications. To date there has been no documented case of death due to marijuana overdosing.
The psychological impact of dealing with continuous pain can lead some sufferers to the brink of suicide. Sadly, these people are not inherently suicidal but rather simply want to escape the pain. The THC in marijuana is a known euphoriant, meaning it improves mood, helps to reduce stress and anxiety.
What would you do?
If you suffered from debilitating chronic pain, what would you choose to do? Having a parent that suffers every day due to a collapsing spine, I can tell you that all I want is to help relieve that discomfort.
For those of you who wish a referral for medical cannabis assessment, you may visit this website.
Have your physician complete the form here.
Here are a few more resources for those of you wanting to explore other ways of coping with chronic pain.
- You may want to consult with the Waterloo Region Chronic Pain Initiative. This fabulous organization is there to help you find resources, treatments and services available within the Regional Municipality of Waterloo.
- Dr. Sara O’Neill - Please check out Dr. Sara’s information on Network Spinal Analysis here.
- Trish Paul – Psychotherapist. For more information on Trish Pauls, you may visit here.
- The Rock Spa – Check out the Buteyko Breathing technique. For more information from the Rock Spa, please visit here.
For more information, you may want to read the following articles:
MMJ Canada Dispensary