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Medical Marijuana: An Effective Treatment for Chronic Pain in Ohio

Medical Marijuana: An Effective Treatment for Chronic Pain

The number of states where marijuana use is made legal is on the rise, and researchers are studying the reasons behind why people are using it for medicinal purposes. Doctors need to know how safe and adequate ways to recommend medical marijuana and seek scientific data about why their patients use it. One recently published study shows 62.2% of patients who use medical marijuana seek relief from chronic pain [1].

If you’re wondering if medical marijuana (MMJ) is right for you, schedule an exam with one of our Ohio Marijuana Doctors. Completing our eligibility survey takes only 5 minutes. Find out if you pre-qualify for a recommendation!

The Survey Says?

According to researchers at the University of Michigan, patients with chronic pain account for the highest percentage of those who use MMJ. Lead investigator Dr. Kevin Boehnke and his colleagues from the department of anesthesiology and the Chronic Pain and Fatigue Research Center collected data from all states where medical marijuana use has been legalized. Published in February of 2019 in the journal Health Affairs, Dr. Boehnke said of the study, “Since the majority of states in the U.S. have legalized medical cannabis, we should consider how best to adequately regulate cannabis and safely incorporate cannabis into medical practice” [1].

Medical marijuana has been legalized in 33 states and the District of Columbia since 1996, with nine states legalized for recreational use. With no national patient registry for medical marijuana, doctors do not have data to comprehensively show the reasons for and effectiveness of using medical marijuana. While some patients voluntarily provide this data, not all states have a volunteer registry. As such, the researchers collected their data from state websites and from 20 state departments plus Washington, DC. The data show changes in the number of patient-reported qualifying conditions from 1999-2017, as illustrated in the graph below. Note the prevalence of use among those who experience chronic pain [2]:

Image 1 taken from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6398594/

Chronic pain accounts for the most common type of pain reported by patients, accounting for an average of 62.2% of those polled over time. Following behind are muscle spasms due to multiple sclerosis, nausea caused by chemotherapy, post-traumatic stress disorder, and cancer.  

How Does MMJ Relieve Chronic Pain?

Pain, in its many forms, is the alarming symptom that alerts us to problems in the body. With so many reasons for experiencing pain, it is a difficult symptom to treat. Some causes have no cure or treatments that lead to major side effects. Doctors and patients searching for alternatives for pain management have come to rely on the ancient and proven medicine that is marijuana. It has been used to treat a variety of ailments, from headaches to post-surgery pain. There are three main types of pain, each with a different pathway to the brain:

  1. Somatic pain – The most common type, it is typically thought of when someone is describing what their pain feels like. It sends signals by peripheral nerves to the brain and is characterized by dull and constant aches at the site of injury.
  2. Visceral pain – Characterized by a sense of deep pressure in the abdomen as it comes from specific receptors found in the gut. It occurs when injury or disease stretch the organs or tissues within the abdominal area.
  3. Neuropathic pain – A burning pain which happens when the nerves are injured. Pain signals are sent to the brain with perhaps even the slightest touch to the injured area. This type of pain does not respond to narcotics known to relieve other types of pain.

Pain may be short lived (acute) or last for days or even years (chronic). When warranted, doctors commonly prescribe opiates for acute pain. Opiatesk have many side effects, including nausea, sedation, and addiction. Medical marijuana is a viable alternative because it doesn’t induce the side effects caused by opiates. Studies on animals have found that nerves contain receptors for the cannabinoids found in marijuana which block peripheral nerve pain. For logistical and ethical reasons, there are no conclusive studies on humans because there have been too few human clinical trials. However, researchers believe cannabinoids provide mild to moderate pain relief and that the cannabinoid system naturally responds to medical marijuana for pain control. The effectiveness of medical marijuana to treat chronic pain is best proven by cancer patients who report a reduction in pain, nausea, and vomiting as well as an increase in appetite [3].

While medical marijuana is still surrounded by some controversy, the number of people using it to treat their pain has steadily increased throughout the United States and the world over. Many patients believe it to be the best solution in their healthcare regimen. In a report by the National Academies Committee on the Health Effects of Marijuana, researchers concluded there is “conclusive or substantial evidence” that marijuana is an effective treatment for adults with chronic pain [4].

Is Medical Marijuana Right for Me?

Whether medical marijuana will help your condition depends on many factors best evaluated by a medical doctor. If you feel you may benefit from medical marijuana, the first step is to take our eligibility survey. In just 5 minutes, you could pre-qualify for a recommendation. An Ohio Marijuana Doctor can then determine if you qualify during an in-person exam. For more information, visit https://docmj.com/ohio/.

  1. https://labblog.uofmhealth.org/lab-report/what-drives-patients-to-use-medical-marijuana-mostly-chronic-pain
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6398594/
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK224384/
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5549367/