The number of chronic pain cases in Canada has been growing over the last few years. Today, it’s estimated more than 6 million Canadians live with chronic pain in some capacity.
Pain comes in many different forms, and one of the most difficult to treat is nerve pain. Nerve pain can have different causes. Sometimes, it occurs because of an underlying condition, such as fibromyalgia. In other cases, patients may have nerve damage from an injury. In yet other cases, the pain may have seemingly no cause.
Currently, the medical field treats nerve pain in a variety of different ways. Opioid treatments have been very common, although patients and doctors alike are beginning to look for alternatives. Another common treatment for nerve pain has been antidepressants, although these medications can have unpleasant side effects.
Another potential treatment that is becoming more popular is medical marijuana.
The Case for Medical Marijuana for Nerve Pain
Many research studies about medical marijuana are currently underway. Scientific and medical researchers are investigating how medical cannabis could assist patients in the treatment and management of many different conditions.
Perhaps the best-studied conditions right now are pain conditions. Cannabis has been used experimentally to help cancer patients manage pain for around three decades now. More recent studies have branched out to look at patients with other kinds of pain.
The results thus far build a strong case for using marijuana for nerve pain and other pain conditions. In most study results, cannabis appeared to reduce patients’ self-reported levels of pain. When patients feel less pain, they can get back to living their lives.
How Does It Work?
Current research is digging deeper into why patients may feel less pain when they use medical marijuana. Some studies have found cannabidiol (CBD), an active substance in many cannabis strains, has anti-inflammatory properties.
This could be one reason medical marijuana works for nerve pain. In many cases, pain is caused by inflammation in the nerves. If CBD can reduce inflammation, it may be able to soothe these inflamed nerves. In turn, patients experience less pain. CBD also works on serotonin, which can enhance mood and therefore reduce pain.
THC is another active substance in many cannabis strains, and it’s the the most studied cannabinoid for nerve pain. It too appears to have pain-reducing properties. THC tends to produce whole-body relaxation and drowsiness. THC blocks neurotransmitters that cause pain. It quiets the nervous system, and it also works by blocking the immune system production of pro-inflammatory precursor molecules. If pain has been keeping you up at night, THC could help you get a good night’s sleep.
A Better Choice?
The research thus far indicates marijuana for nerve pain could be an effective treatment. Some also suggest it’s a better choice than some of the other treatments currently used.
Opioids, for example, are known to be highly addictive. Over time, their use can reduce a patient’s quality of life, lead to addiction, or even result in an overdose. Cannabis is less addictive and has fewer side effects, which makes it a better choice for patients managing long-term conditions.
Some antidepressants are also used to treat some cases of nerve pain. While these substances can assist with managing nerve pain, they do come with unpleasant side effects and the risk of depression and suicidal ideation.
Given these facts, medical marijuana may be a better choice for those living with nerve pain and other forms of chronic pain.
Is It Right for You?
Medical marijuana might be the right choice for some patients hoping to better manage their nerve pain, but it isn’t right for everyone.
If you’re wondering whether marijuana for nerve pain could be the right choice, talk to your doctor or another medical professional. They should be able to consult with you and, together, you can find the treatment.