Chronic pain conditions are on the rise in Canada. Of those, nerve pain is one of the more common conditions, and it’s one of the more difficult types of pain to treat. Nerve pain is generally more severe than other kinds of pain, and it’s both chronic in nature and of varying intensity. The features of nerve pain are numbness/tingling, burning/cold sensitivity and sometimes weakness.
Although the symptoms and intensity of pain can vary from person to person, the mechanism is the same. Once a nerve is damaged or behaving abnormally, it may go either completely numb or can cause excessive pain. For many patients, the pain falls somewhere between the two poles. Nerve pain is particularly common in the hands and feet, where there are many nerves closer to the skin.
Given that nerve pain can be difficult to treat, many patients are looking for better, more effective alternatives to traditional treatments. If you suffer from nerve pain, you should consider marijuana for nerve pain. Here are a few reasons why.
1. It Puts the Endocannabinoid System in Pain Regulation Mode
Those patients using marijuana for nerve pain may find the compounds in cannabis help soothe the nerve. Damaged nerves may transmit more pain signals to the brain, resulting in excessive pain for the patient.
With the use of medical marijuana, the number of these signals may be significantly reduced. The brain may stop receiving pain signals from the nerves and muscles altogether, thus decreasing the perception of pain. As a result, the patient may experience increased mobility and relaxation.
The endocannabinoid system reacts to cannabinoids and thus works to reduce inflammation, reduce pain, and quiet overactive nerves.
2. It’s a Safer Alternative to Opioids
The opioid crisis worsened between 2016 and 2018, resulting in thousands of deaths each year. As concern grows about the use of opioids and the over-prescription of them, many patients and medical professionals alike are looking for better alternatives.
Some studies have suggested opioid treatments may not be as effective as people have believed them to be. In addition, medical marijuana has been shown to be just as effective as opioids in some studies.
Marijuana for nerve pain provides two major advantages over opioids. The first is that it appears to be far less addictive than opioids. Opioids are highly addictive substances, and people develop tolerance to them over time. Medical cannabis is less addictive and patients are less likely to develop a tolerance to it.
However, opiates and cannabinoids are not the only options for nerve pain. Often, anti-depressants or gabapentinoids are used for nerve pain and there are both benefits and risks to these therapies as well.
3. It Helps Improve Quality of Life
Nerve pain is debilitating. As medical cannabis can help to reduce inflammation and affects pain regulation, you could find increased mobility and relaxation. Effective pain management could also assist you with enjoying the activities you once enjoyed.
Other effects can include stronger appetite and increased focus/alertness. You may find you have the energy to get back to your day-to-day life.
4. Studies Are Generally Showing Positive Results
Medical cannabis is not an immediate fix for chronic and deep nerve pain. Many studies have shown medical cannabis has a positive effect on reducing pain and improving quality of sleep. Much of the current research focuses on nerve pain caused by another condition, such as multiple sclerosis (MS) or HIV.
While pain was not eliminated for patients in most studies, they did report improved perceptions of pain and sleep quality. The effects were certainly greater than placebo treatments, as reported by one study in Nature.
More studies about marijuana for nerve pain are in the works. As nerve pain tends to be chronic, studies with longer durations are needed to determine cannabis’s effectiveness over time. As understanding of its effects improves, so too will the ability to use medical cannabis as an effective treatment for nerve pain.