Medical Marijuana & Pain Relief, Pain Benefit

23 04 2009

I’ve been asked this question many times “what do I think about the use of medical marijuana to relieve pain?”   I believe that chronic pain patients have a unique physical and mental pain challenge regardless of pain disorder that most don’t understand, or could relate to unless they experience something similar.  Relating to a chronic pain patients problem daily is difficult for those that have never walked in their shoes.  It is also common for loved ones to pass judgment and become frustrated with decisions that are made, “or not” by those that are trying to find pain relief.  The best example to make a comparison… Most would begin to understand, or relate to a pain patients dilemma if you’d ever experienced an acute and severe low back pain episode.  For those that have been fortunate enough not to have experienced a low back strain let me provide a different analogy.

Imagine if you could never get pain relief from a cough or head ache.  Instead the cough or headache became more chronic and would not go away for days, weeks, or even months!  How would you feel if you couldn’t get relief?  Can you imagine going to work each day, taking care of your family, let alone yourself?  I know you’ve had this experience and can imagine if you could not get rid of this bug, what would you do, how would this change your life?  Most of you have experienced a terrible bout of the common cold or flu.  So there is some common ground in relating to what would you do if you had to learn to live with these symptoms on a daily basis.  You’d look for all options that are legally available to you to remove, or alleviate this pain.  If you can’t find relief your quality of life suffers and so does all around you.

Let’s continue on with this example, when the symptoms are really bad, what do you do?  You go to the doctor, they give you antibiotics, you then might also go to the local drug store, load up on cough syrup-drops, AM/PM relief medications, Tylenol, aspirin.  Some do all of this while hitting the local sauna in hopes of sweating out the bug, then take a couple of days off of work.  Others may do all of this while suppressing the cough by sipping on brandy until they fall asleep.  Okay, now you get the ideal.  You search out pain alleviation modalities that are legal and available to you that suppress any number of pain type flue, or cold symptoms.  When pain exceeds physical and mental tolerances, humans will always look for the best way to customize a pain alleviation program that works best for them.  All legal choices should be available for consideration and use within a pain management program.  In many cases, chronic pain patients suffer far worse than those that have infrequent bouts with the flu, or common cold. Chronic pain for a pain patient does not go away and varies with frequency- severity dependant on pain disorder and daily work load (activity, exercise, daily tasks, etc.).   Those that don’t experience chronic pain daily are typically not able to understand why a person would choose to smoke medical marijuana.

It must be noted I don’t, or would never advocate a 100% use of any pain modality application, but instead advocate combinations, or a balance of holistic approaches for chronic pain relief and customized differently within each pain management program.  As such, a chronic pain patient requires all the information possible, understanding benefits and risks in order to make an informed decision to live the “best” quality of life style possible.  Pain management programs may consist of any treatment modality combination(s) that may, or may not include pharmaceuticals, herbal, alternative modality treatments, supplemental, exercise; activity program(s) that will provide pain relief.  Medical marijuana choices to treat chronic pain are now “legal” (dependant on state).

Medical marijuana has been better than a “quasi” legal pain alleviation alternative since the birth of the “Compassionate Use Act,” passed in 1996.  I’d say better then quasi-legal because, although 13 states authorized medical marijuana cards, this does not mean there aren’t conflicting federal laws with regard to each state “use” authorization.  Currently, laws that effectively remove state-level criminal penalties for growing and/or possessing medical cannabis:   Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington.  Let’s dig up some facts first by providing some scientific data, testimonials, risk to benefit and finally legal aspects of medical marijuana use.  Without going into the physiological depth of how pain receptors work, or doesn’t work, depending on your pain injuries, or diagnosis, let me break this down for you the best way I know how.

People that suffer with chronic pain either have severed, or damaged pain receptor nerve endings.  Scientifically proven, if an opiate nerve receiver is not available to block pain because of nerve damage, or severed nerves, opiates such as morphine, or codeine would have little to no effect on the pain area. Scientific studies further point out, although an opiate nerve ending receiver may be  severed, or damaged, the THC (marijuana nerve receivers) are intact  and do benefit the pain patient by alleviating pain.  This is because the nerve cannabinoid receptors appear to maintain functional pain blocking receivers regardless of damage at a pain trigger point which also benefits neuropathic radial pain (radiating pain to distal portions of the body through neural conduit highways).  Continued…

Be sure to look for Medical Marijuana and Pain Relief, Part II which focuses more on the science through medical journal citations as medical Marijuana studies strongly support the pain patients benefits through daily cannabis use.

Author:  Marc T. Woodard, MBA, BS Exercise Science, USA Medical Services Officer, CPT, RET.  2009 Copyright, All rights reserved.  Mirror Athlete Enterprises Publishing @: www.mirrorathlete.com, Sign up for your free eNewsletter.


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16 12 2010
Marc Woodard

A huge problem still remains with incorporating medical marijuana. How to control the use without the recreational aspect of the substance filtering further into the hands of our youth as another recreational drug. There is so much drug substance abuse out there for our youth… It as if we must make decisions based on scientific pain benefits vs. detriments of abuse. The benefits for pain alleviation are just as valid as the detriments of abuse “especially for the youth.” For these reasons, I “can not” and “will not” support the recreational use of Marijuana, but fully support the Medical Marijuana control and regulation of the substance for substantiated patient pain alleviation treatment.

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