Medical Cannabis for Pain Management: Introduction
Medical cannabis, as a treatment in pain management, has recently gained popularity following the legalization of medical marijuana in over 30 states. In this article on the topic, you can get up to speed on many aspects of the treatment of chronic pain with medical cannabis.
What is Medical Cannabis?
Medical cannabis refers to the use of the marijuana plant for medicinal purposes, including pain relief and treatment. The parts of the plant containing the medicinal herbs known as CBD or cannabinoids are within the resin of the plant. The resin is produced primarily from the flowering parts of the cannabis plant. The stems and leaves of the plant also produce resin but in smaller amounts. In addition to CBD, the resin also contains THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) which is famously responsible for the mental effects of the plant. CBD and THC compounds have both are credited with providing the therapeutic benefits of medical cannabis.
CBD Products vs. Medical Cannabis in Oklahoma Pain Management
Medical cannabis differs from the typical CBD product in that CBD supplements are prepared by utilizing hemp plants that are naturally low in THC content. Further filtering may be performed to ensure low levels of THC in the finished herbal medicinal product. In Oklahoma, CBD products must contain no more than 0.3% THC to be purchased without an Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority License.
CBD products are an excellent way to trial whether cannabis-derived herbal treatments are potentially beneficial for your pain management treatment needs. Products with CBD generally remove the side effects experienced from the mind-altering compound THC. CBD provides the benefits of the plant without the potentially unwanted ‘high’ sensation, which could interfere with work, for example. Many patients with jobs requiring the ability to focus, operate machinery, or drive professionally have found CBD products extremely helpful for pain management.
Medical Cannabis for Pain: A Learning Experience
Although there is evidence that humans have cultivated the marijuana plant for 12,000 years, there is still much we don’t know about cannabis. There are hundreds of recognized cannabis strains and more than 500 bioactive compounds within the plant. Given a particular variety of plant, the production of these potentially medicinal compounds varies dramatically based on many variables. Factors such as soil types, temperature, or humidity can drastically change the balance of production of cannabinoid compounds. For this reason, we highly recommend that Oklahoma pain management patients keep a detailed log of their experiences. Using different products or the same product at different times can result in differences in how you ultimately feel. Also, what works well for one patient, may not work well for another based on their unique physiology and pain diagnosis.
Methods of Taking Medical Cannabis for Chronic Pain
There are three standard methods of taking medical cannabis for pain including smoking, inhalation of vapors, and taking edible forms. How you choose to take medical marijuana for pain impacts the time of onset, intensity, and length of duration of the effects.
Smoking medical cannabis provides detectable blood levels in seconds to minutes and is comparable to intravenous delivery methods. The dosing typically peaks in the blood over 15 to 30 minutes. Following the peak concentrations achieved with smoking, the effects decrease over the next 2 to 3 hours. The inhalation of vaporized forms of medical cannabis also behaves similarly to smoking. The advantages of vaping medical marijuana include the avoidance of the particles within the smoke, which theoretically decreases the risk of cancer.
When you take edible forms of medical cannabis, such as gummies for pain, there is a significant difference in the onset of marijuana. Medical studies report that effects occur within 30 to 90 minutes and reach their maximum at 2 to 3 hours. Also, the duration of activity is much longer with edible forms which can last up to 4 to 12 hours after ingestion.
Side Effects of Medical Marijuana for Pain
The most common side effect of medical cannabis is reported to be dizziness. Beyond this, research shows nausea, vomiting, and impaired coordination are additional – but less commonly experienced symptoms. Importantly, there are some rarely reported mental side effects. These include anxiety, suicidal ideation, mood disturbances, worsening of existing psychosis, and possible withdrawal syndrome.
It is also important to mention a few known interactions with medications and medical cannabis. The drug ketoconazole, an anti-fungal medication, was found to increase blood concentrations of THC by as much as 20-80%. Also, anything that may cause sedation such as alcohol, antihistamines, or antidepressants may result in increasing sleepiness. Lastly, the metabolism of the asthma drug theophylline may be increased, causing a decrease in the effectiveness of the drug.
Specific Pain Conditions Treated with Medical Cannabis
The use of medical marijuana to treat a variety of pain conditions has been studied. Neuropathic pain, fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, and chronic pain have shown responsiveness to treatment with cannabis.
Neuropathic pain encompasses a large group of pain conditions, including nerve damage from injuries such as trauma as well as diabetic neuropathy and shingles pain. Given the potentially severe side effects of opioids, medical cannabis is promoted as a viable treatment for these chronic pain conditions.
Fibromyalgia diagnosis continues to increase, and many patients find they have few alternatives beyond Neurontin (gabapentin) or Lyrica (pregabalin). There are reports of patients receiving much-needed relief by utilizing medicinal cannabis for chronic pain from fibromyalgia.
Adding Medicinal Cannabis for Pain Treatment
Many patients with a wide range of pain conditions may look to medical marijuana for hope in treating their discomfort. It is essential to keep in mind that rarely is one treatment effective in treating a chronic painful condition. However, medicinal cannabis may be able to provide a much-needed adjunct or boost to your overall treatment plan. In conjunction with physical therapy, interventional pain management, and other medications, you may find that pain relief is in reach.
Get Your Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority Recommendation
If medical cannabis for pain management interests you as a treatment option, we can help. You will first need to schedule a medical evaluation with a board-certified specialist licensed in Oklahoma. We recommend visiting with an Oklahoma Pain Management doctor that specializes in the treatment of painful musculoskeletal conditions. If your physician specialist determines you qualified for a recommendation, you will receive a signed form from the physician. Once you have completed this step, you will need to follow the steps for submitting all of your documentation to the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority (OMMA). According to Oklahoma State Law, you should receive your license to purchase medical cannabis for pain management within 14 days.
Medical cannabis for the treatment of pain can have a dramatic impact on your quality of life. However, it won’t necessarily work for every patient. We recommend you work with your Local Oklahoma Pain Specialist and try traditional treatments first. Should you fail those options, trying this new pain management treatment alternative may be a good option for you! In order to schedule your Oklahoma pain treatement center specialist evaluation, contact us today!