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Specialized anesthesiologists have traditionally cared for patients with chronic pain. The term for these doctors eventually became pain specialists. Their solution for treating patients is typically steroids and powerful opiates.
Since medical marijuana has become available, chronic pain sufferers have more options to seek solace. More patients turn away from traditional treatment and opt for a more natural form of relief.
Some patients have had no choice but to use marijuana for relief. Jeanette Smith, a Maine resident, explains “Governor LePage literally said Medicaid patients abused narcotics and can only be on them for 15 days in a 12-month period.”
Prior to this change, she “had been [taking] Vicodin every four hours for two years.” Smith added, “My doctor gave me the choice of Methadone for two years and then medical marijuana, or straight to medical marijuana.”
She chose to use medical marijuana. When asked how she is doing, she exclaimed, “Great! I am no longer diabetic and have lost 100 pounds since January 2015!”
There are other examples of patients who had no choice. According to a physician’s assistant (PA) who works at a pain management clinic in Oregon, patients who have been on opiate pain relief medication for many years are being told they must quit. The doctor’s reasoning:
There are no studies about the long-term effects on older adults or people who have been on opiates for extended periods.
The PA indicates the clinic is encouraging patients to take psychological courses to better deal with their pain. The clinic is also recommending the book “Managing Your Pain Before It Manages You” by Margaret A. Caudill M.D., PhD., M.P.H.
The book includes reading materials, journaling forms, and “free audio downloads of guided relaxation exercises.” If a patient asks about medical marijuana, the PA will discuss it as an option.
For many people, the medication that has prescribed by their physician does not work, or it incapacitates them, so their lives are not fulfilling. Many pain-management patients have given up driving and spending time with family and friends.
Medical marijuana can change this for many patients. However, sometimes medical marijuana is not an option.
There are still many states without medical marijuana laws in place. For instance, a woman in Tennessee is looking forward to the time when she can get off of the ineffective medication prescribed for her. She uses pain medication for a back injury sustained as a child, and to manage daily fibromyalgia symptoms.
According to her posts on a medical marijuana Facebook page, she has extensively researched this drug’s medicinal use. This woman disapproves of the recreational use of pot. However, she does believe that medicinal use is acceptable. Tennessee is currently debating a medical cannabis law for critically ill patients.
Marijuana is another word for Cannabis, in which tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the primary ingredient responsible for getting a person high or giving the feeling of being mentally altered. However, getting high is not the only use for THC.
Cannabis offers a wide assortment of medical benefits for chronic pain sufferers, and its use could bring solace. This medication is commonly used to treat depression, nausea, fibromyalgia, and more.
Each state with medical cannabis laws has varied regulations regarding which symptoms or illnesses are acceptable. For example, Maine allows sufferers with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In contrast, Colorado recently passed a law that prohibits PTSD as an adequate cause for obtaining a medical marijuana card (MMC).
There is another component in Cannabis called cannabinoid (CBD) — one of the 400-plus compounds found in marijuana. THC and CBD are processed differently by the body. When a strain of marijuana is cultured to have higher CBD levels, it serves well as a medication.
According to the “British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology,” in an article published in 2013, CBD benefits have only been realized in animals. The reason is there have been very few CBD studies that include humans. According to the report, the researchers have found several medical benefits for CBD; it reduces nausea and vomiting. It has anti-oxidant features. It can suppress seizures, have antipsychotic properties, and more.
There are several ways to use medical cannabis. The most common ingestion method is smoking, which allows the medicine to enter the body and offers the “quickest onset.” Vaporizing, or vaping, is another method of smoking marijuana. Since a vaporizer creates vapor, there is a reduced risk of choking on the medication upon inhaling. The onset is also fast. Some prefer vaporizing because it creates no odor and no smoke, which offers discretion.
Additionally, there are edibles or “Medibles.” These are products such as marijuana-infused food, candies, and beverages. These provide a longer-lasting source of relief. However, edibles take longer to produce the desired effect.
Another method is a liquid form of the medication called a tincture. The tincture is taken by mouth using a dropper. It is relatively odorless, discreet, easily transported, and is a preferred choice for daytime use, as there are none of the visible clouds associated with smoking. Additionally, there is a topical rub infused with marijuana, which can also provide chronic pain sufferers solace and long-term pain relief.
By Cathy Milne-Ware
Leaf Science: 5 Must-Know Facts About Cannabidiol (CBD)
Leaf Science: 6 Surprising Facts About THC
Wellness Connection: Medical Cannabis
Facebook: Medical Marijuana Pages
THE GILFORD PRESS: Managing Pain Before It Manages You; Third Edition
Interview: J. Smith
Article Photo Courtesy of Thomas Hawk’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Featured Photo Courtesy of tanjila ahmed’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License