Medicinal Cannabis and Pain
Chronic pain is one of the most common reason for patients to consult with our clinic. We have consulted with hundreds of patients who have widespread chronic pain or pain localised in specific joints. We have also consulted with many patients who have chronic pain for unknown reasons.
The types of pain we have treated have also been diverse: from sharp, shooting and debilitating pain, to chronic aching that is affecting sleep and quality of life.
Whatever the cause and type of the your pain, medicinal cannabis may provide some relief. Pain conditions are varied and the list includes these most common conditions:
- Complex regional pain syndrome
- Injury related pain
- Shoulder and neck pain
- Back pain
- Rheumatoid arthitis
- Psoriatic arthritis
- Neurogenic pain (caused by damage to nerves)
- Muscle spasms
- Cancer pain
How Can the Cannabis Clinic Help Me?
We can help alleviate the symptoms of chronic pain by using CBD with low amounts of THC. CBD oil helps with the pain, but low dose THC also works effectively in conjunction with the CBD. The doses are low and not sufficient to make you high or impair your daily functioning.
We are hopeful that THC products will soon be available in the New Zealand market (currently undergoing quality testing).
Let’s Look At: Fibromyalgia
Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition characterized by pain and tenderness over much of the body. This is a common condition that affects around 2-8% of the population who are mostly female. The cause is unknown, although risk factors include pre-existing conditions and genetics. Fibromyalgia causes similar symptoms to arthritis. One distinct difference is that unlike arthritis, fibromyalgia causes soft tissue pain rather than direct damage to joints.
Symptoms of fibromyalgia include:
Muscle stiffness and spasms
Sensitivity to pain, which may be worse in certain areas
Cognitive difficulties such as impaired concentration
Poor sleep and mood as a result of the above
There is no current cure for fibromyalgia. That being said, one’s quality of life can be improved by taking medications and making appropriate lifestyle changes
Can Medicinal Cannabis Help In Fibromyalgia?
Medicinal cannabis products can help reduce the chronic pain associated with fibromyalgia. A common treatment plan would involve treatment with CBD oil initially. About 25% of patients respond to this alone. If the response is not sufficient then a product with more THC would be suitable.
How does it do this? By interacting with the body’s endocannabinoid system.
This system is comprised of enzymes, receptors, and endocannabinoids. The endocannabinoid system’s CB1 and CB2 receptors are responsible for pain regulation. Cannabinoid receptors such as CB1 are distributed throughout the central nervous system and regions of the brain involved in pain signalling. The effects of cannabis on these receptors are central to how cannabis exerts its pain-relieving effects, which may help people with fibromyalgia.
Let’s Look At: Migraines
Migraines are often confused with normal headaches. Unlike normal headaches, migraines are a neurological condition that can be debilitating. In fact, migraines are one of the leading causes of disability in the world.
There are multiple causes of migraines which involve a combination of genetic and environmental factors.
Migraine symptoms may include:
Severe head aches
Sensitivity to light
Can Medicinal Cannabis Help With Migraines?
Yes it can. CBD oil contains anti-inflammatory properties and helps reduces tension and anxiety. This is important in migraines as reducing these triggers can itself reduce the frequency of migraines by itself. However, episodes of migraines can still occur and this is where THC becomes critical in its use to treat the onset of a migraine, at low doses to avoid causing lethargy or any psychoactive effects.
By using a starting point of CBD oil daily to help prevent migraines and a THC containing product at the start of an attack, medicinal cannabis has been an effective treatment for migraines at the clinic.
What Does The Research Say
In a study published by the University of Colorado, researchers examined the effects of cannabis on 121 people with migraines. Their findings showed that 85.1% of patients experienced reductions in the number of migraines they experienced from 10.4 to 4.6 headaches per month, which is a significant decrease. Cannabis not only reduced migraine frequency but also stopped migraines from occurring if cannabis was taken during a migraine episode.
One large observational study of 367 patients looked at how cannabis affects fibromyalgia patients. 80% of patients experienced improvements in sleep and depression. There were also significant improvements for general wellbeing and pain. Side effects included dizziness, dry mouth, nausea, vomiting, and hyperactivity in under 8% of patients.
Medicinal cannabis is an effective and safe treatment option for chronic pain. For some patients, CBD oil alone is sufficient, but for many others, the addition of small amounts of THC makes a huge difference in getting the pain under control. The addition of CBD alongside the THC helps reduce the chances of possible side effects experienced. If you feel your chronic pain is not well managed with your current medications, medicinal cannabis could be an option for you. Please fill out our consultation form to find out more.