Mar­i­juana po­ten­tially use­ful for manag­ing pain

Sherbrooke Record - - CLASSIFIED -

States is fac­ing an epi­demic of opi­ate abuse, with pre­scrip­tion opi­ate med­i­ca­tion lead­ing to a rapid in­crease in lethal drug over­doses. In 2014, more than 18,000 peo­ple died from over­dos­ing on pre­scrip­tion opi­ates, ac­cord­ing to the fed­eral Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Preven­tion.

Mar­i­juana has been used also for more than 3,000 years. It works through the en­do­cannabi­noid sys­tem of the body, which has re­cep­tors in the brain and spinal cord as well as the im­mune sys­tem. The re­cep­tors in the brain and spinal cord can de­crease mus­cle spasms and pain, while those re­cep­tors in the im­mune sys­tem can de­crease in­flam­ma­tion and pain.

A 2015 study pub­lished in the Jour­nal of the Amer­i­can Med­i­cal As­so­ci­a­tion (JAMA) looked at 14 dif­fer­ent clin­i­cal tri­als of mar­i­juana use by mul­ti­ple scle­ro­sis pa­tients and found re­lief from chronic pain, nerve pain, and pain and mus­cle spasm. Another study pub­lished in 2015 in JAMA looked at 28 dif­fer­ent stud­ies with 2,454 pa­tients and found a 30 per­cent re­duc­tion of pain with cannabis-re­lated prod­ucts com­pared with placebo.

Opi­ates can re­lieve pain in the short term, such as af­ter surgery or an acute in­jury. But due to their ad­dic­tive po­ten­tial and lack of long-term ben­e­fit, opi­ates are not a good choice for long-term pain re­lief.

Mar­i­juana is not with­out its own po­ten­tial risks and side ef­fects. These in­clude short­term mem­ory loss, poor motor co­or­di­na­tion, para­noid thoughts and, for some, psy­chosis. Long-term use can also cre­ate the po­ten­tial for ad­dic­tion, but not to the de­gree of opi­ate med­i­ca­tions. Also, over­dos­ing on mar­i­juana doesn’t lead to death, as it can with opi­ates.

My sug­ges­tion in re­gard to chronic back pain is to try other meth­ods of pain con­trol over opi­oids. These in­clude phys­i­cal ther­apy, yoga and stretch­ing. If these don’t work, mar­i­juana is an op­tion, but beware of its side ef­fects — and try to min­i­mize its use.

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