Joint Pain Relief & Cannabis
Pain is inevitable. Finding relief should be too.
Just like death and taxes, experiencing some form of joint pain is a fact of life. Whether it’s mild shoulder tightness, a bum knee or debilitating arthritis, all of us will deal with pain in our joints at some time in our lives.
It is never wise to self-diagnose the reason for pain. Consulting with a physician is always a better course of action to first see if the reason the pain exists can be eliminated rather than simply treating the side effect.
The cause of joint pain can be injury, arthritis, damaged tendons or ligaments, or some other, possibly more serious reasons.
Instead of popping ibuprofen or prescription opioid pharmaceuticals, a growing number of Americans are turning to cannabis to treat joint pain. Once viewed as very benign, the public is becoming more aware of the risk of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Bayer, Motrin, Advil and St. Joseph’s are just a few of brand names in this category that sit in the medicine cabinets of most American households.
NSAID side effects of stomach pain, constipation and mild dizziness are just part of the story. They have been shown to be a leading cause of bleeding ulcers. NSAIDs also increase the risk of stroke and heart attack. The risk is so concerning that the FDA strengthened warnings they had originally made to the public.
Unfortunately, the solution for many pain sufferers is prescription opiates. Over 80% of the world’s supply of opiates and 99% of the world’s hydrocortisone supply are consumed by Americans. The side effects include constipation, sedation and dependence. According to the CDC, 91 Americans die each day from an opioid overdose.
As more states allow cannabis to be sold, many Americans dealing with joint pain are discovering its health benefits. And it isn’t speculation. Cannabis has been shown in study after study to be effective for acute and chronic pain.
So there are serious reasons to consider the benefits that a natural product like cannabis may provide. Given the choice, the choice is clear. Patients prefer cannabis to opioid medicines. A study from the University of California, Berkeley examined how cannabis has affected the consumption of opioids. The results of the landmark study show that, given a choice, people would overwhelmingly choose cannabis over opioid medication, saying cannabis works just as well and with fewer side effects.
● 97% “Strongly agreed/agreed” that they could decrease their opioid use when using cannabis.
● 92% “Strongly agreed/agreed” that they prefer cannabis to treat their medical condition.
● 81% “Strongly agreed/agreed” that cannabis by itself was more effective than taking cannabis with opioids.
Amanda Reiman, one of the lead researchers of the study, concluded:
“Cannabis has been used throughout the world for thousands of years to treat pain and other physical and mental health conditions. Patients have been telling us for decades that this practice is producing better outcomes than the use of opioid-based medications.”
If you suffer from joint pain, there are many ways cannabis can help. The two most widely known compounds in cannabis are THC and CBD, both known to provide analgesic effects.
Of course, joint pain is a diagnosis with a wide range of severity. You may be a weekend warrior who overdid it and damaged a knee. Maybe you are a tennis player with chronic elbow issues. Or you may suffer from a severe form of rheumatism. No matter what your ailment is, your Greenlight Approved retailer can help you find the cannabis product that best fits your need.
How Cannabis Is Helping Offset America’s Opioid Crisis
An epidemic of addiction to opiates, including prescription narcotics and illegal drugs such as heroin, is one of the biggest health challenges facing the United States. More than 42,000 Americans died of opioid overdose in 2016, a fivefold increase over 1999. Opiates have surpassed car accidents and shootings as the most common cause of accidental death in this country. Could medical cannabis be a solution to the problem?
Cannabis vs Opiates
A growing number of studies suggest that the answer is yes. Not only can cannabis be used in many forms (smoking, vaporizing, consuming in capsules or edibles) as a substitute for opiates to treat pain, but cannabis can also be used in conjunction with opiates to increase their effectiveness and reduce the necessary dose to safer levels.
In recent months, a series of studies has contributed to a growing body of evidence that medical marijuana can help turn the tide of opioid addiction. , based on data for Medicare and Medicaid patients, found that opioid prescriptions fell significantly — up to 14.5 percent — in states that had medical cannabis laws. The effect was most pronounced in states that had medical dispensaries but was also significant in states that only allowed home cultivation.
Many ways that cannabis can help – Marijuana for opiate withdrawal
An earlier study found that deaths from opioid overdose fell in states that enacted medical cannabis laws, and that fatality rates continued to decline each year — perhaps as more individuals turned to marijuana and away from the more dangerous opiates.
Medical marijuana can help reduce the use of opiates in several ways:
- Patients with chronic pain and other conditions may be able to use cannabis instead of highly addictive and dangerous drugs like hydrocodone (Vicodin). One showed that 44 percent of opiate-using patients were able to stop taking their prescription drugs within seven months after they began smoking cannabis or eating cannabis-infused cookies.
- Cannabis can be used instead of various prescription drugs to help patients with the symptoms of opioid withdrawal, such as nausea, abdominal cramping, anxiety, restlessness and insomnia.
- Intriguingly, cannabis can help increase the efficacy of prescription narcotics, which often stop working well as patients with chronic pain build up resistance. This is significant, because complete withdrawal from prescription drugs is not an option for many patients. A showed a 64 percent decrease in opiate use when patients used cannabis in combination with their prescription drugs.
Marijuana and painkillers
A recent of medical marijuana patients by geriatric physicians at one of the nation’s largest health care systems found that 65 percent were able to reduce their use of other painkillers, including 27 percent who said they got off painkillers completely. The patients used marijuana to deal with chronic pain from osteoarthritis, spinal stenosis and other conditions. An overwhelming 91 percent said they would recommend medical marijuana to others.
“My quality of life has increased considerably since starting medical marijuana,” one patient said. Another patient said medical marijuana “has allowed me to function in my work and life again. It has not completely taken away the allows me to manage it.”
Growing acceptance of medical uses
Cannabis can help patients even without causing them to get high. A growing body of research is focusing on the potential therapeutic effects of cannabidiol, or CBD, a chemical compound in cannabis that does not have the psychoactive effects of the better-known THC. Animal studies have suggested that CBD decrease addictive behavior.
With medical marijuana legal in 29 states and the District of Columbia, doctors are becoming more comfortable in discussing its use with their patients. Even the that encourage health practitioners to discuss marijuana use and its clinical relevance with any veterans asking about it. That is significant because the VA is severely limited by federal laws classifying marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug, meaning in legal terms that it has no medically accepted use.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse cautions that more study needs to be done to determine whether the legalization of marijuana is having a real impact on the opioid crisis. But there is no real argument about the fact that opiates are highly addictive and deadly, while there has never been a recorded instance of a fatal overdose from marijuana.
“No one has ever died of cannabis, so it has many safety advantages over opiates,” David Bradford, professor of public administration and policy at the University of Georgia and author of several cannabis studies, . And while some people may become dependent on marijuana, it is not considered addictive and generally is no more difficult to quit than caffeine.
Arthritis Patients Find Relief in Cannabis
Non Psychoactive CBD Relieves Arthritis Pain
Arthritis is the most common cause of disability in the United States, affecting some 50 million Americans, or 1 in 5 adults. Many patients with arthritis live with chronic pain and may turn to cannabis or other alternative remedies to supplement or replace the many conventional painkillers and other medications prescribed by physicians.
While there are no definitive studies conclusively showing that marijuana can help arthritis patients, there are scientific reasons for believing that cannabis holds promise. Humans and other mammals have a pain-regulating system, the endocannabinoid system, which has receptors that respond to cannabinoids. That includes plant-based compounds found in marijuana, of which THC and CBD are the best known. In addition, cannabis may help reduce inflammation, which is a significant cause of joint pain for arthritis patients, according to an article in Arthritis Today, a publication of the Arthritis Foundation.
Cannabis Cream For Arthritis – Topicals And More
Arthritis patients can choose from among a range of options, including CBD-based topical ointments, creams and patches, which have no psychoactive effect, as well as tinctures, pills and edibles, which can take a while to kick in but may have long-last impact. Vaping and smoking cannabis also are popular among arthritis patients who don’t mind feeling euphoric or who may be looking for a good night’s sleep. Cannabis cream is recommended for Arthritis patients who do not want to ingest or inhale CBD based products.
Cannabis Also Works For Rheumatoid Arthritis
While some rheumatologists are skeptical about the benefits of cannabis, arthritis patients have responded in droves to the growing availability of medical marijuana, now available in 29 states, the District of Columbia and across Canada. Severe arthritis is the No. 1 reason Canadians seek authorization to possess medicinal cannabis, according to a report in the Journal of Rheumatology.
A major study is under way in Canada that will test the safety and efficacy of cannabis in patients with osteoarthritis of the knee. The randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study will test exposure to six different types of cannabis through a vaporizer, with varying levels of THC and CBD. Results are expected in 2019.
Patients with arthritis interested in using cannabis should discuss it with their physician and make sure to continue their use of any disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs, or DMARDs, which have been proven effective in preventing joint damage and reducing the risk of long-term complications. Many physicians support the use of medical cannabis, even though they caution that quality and consistency of the product can vary widely.
“The bottom line is, marijuana is a very safe drug,” Dr. Donald Abrams, a professor of clinical medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, told Arthritis Today. “When we give patients with chronic pain a prescription … we say, ‘Start with one, try two or three if that doesn’t work.’ It’s the same with medical marijuana: Start low and see how it goes.”
Don’t Let Muscle Spasms Keep You from Enjoying an Active Life
We’ve all experienced the debilitating agony of muscle tightness. For some of us “lucky” ones, the experience is a temporary annoyance, like suffering from a “Charlie horse” or having a nighttime cramp in your leg that jars you awake.
But for millions of Americans suffering from diseases ranging from Tourette’s syndrome to multiple sclerosis to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s disease), the pain is a constant companion throughout the day. In recent years, cases of adolescent epilepsy and Dravet’s syndrome have made national headlines as families have moved to other states in order to treat their children’s’ excruciating pain.
Coping with stiff, aching, cramping muscles is a way of life for most of the 2.5 million people in the world who have multiple sclerosis. Many of the 15 million people with spinal cord injuries also suffer from the same symptoms, which cause pain, limit movement, and rob people of needed sleep.
For most patients, conventional pharmaceutical treatments are simply not as effective as cannabis. Additionally, many patients discover that side effects of prescription medication are just as bad as the disease itself.
Here’s What the Science Says
More and more studies have demonstrated the efficacy of cannabis in decreasing muscle pain and spasticity.
According to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, spasticity “refers to the stiffness and involuntary muscle spasms that are indicative of the disease.” The condition can range from mild spasticity, which feels like muscle cramping and tightness, to severe spasticity, which can cause acute pain and uncontrollable twitching.
Nine out of 10 MS patients will eventually develop spasticity. Some patients experience this condition as mild muscle stiffness; others endure constant ache, cramps, or involuntary muscle contractions (spasms). These spasms often affect the legs and can disrupt sleep. In the most severe cases, patients become partially or even completely paralyzed.
Marijuana Reduces Muscle Spasms and Pain
In a 2012 study, researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine discovered that patients that consumed cannabis experienced a one-third decrease in spasticity, compared with participants given a placebo. But even more revealing was that cannabis reduced the patients’ perception of pain by 50 percent. Putting it in plain terms, marijuana may help half of the patients suffering from muscle spasms. There is no other medication that comes remotely close to this result.
Cannabis Oil and Parkinson’s
In another study, this one from 2014 published in Clinical Neuropharmacology, found that patients suffering from Parkinson’s disease reported a reduction in tremors and involuntary movements after using cannabis. Also in 2014, a report from the Journal of Psychopharmacology revealed that Parkinson’s patients reported an increase in quality of life and wellbeing after being treated with a daily 300-mg dose of cannabidiol (CBD) oil, a non-psychoactive ingredient found in cannabis.
How It Works
Researchers are still trying to isolate the exact reasons cannabis is helpful in reducing muscle spasms and pain, it is generally understood that it is the anti-inflammatory properties that hold the key. A study conducted at the University of South Carolina found that the immune system’s response, such as to a muscle injury, is reduced and the systems inflammatory proteins are deactivated by cannabis.
CBD + THC = Pain Reduction
But it is not just the CBD at work; studies show that THC, the psychoactive component in cannabis, starts the anti-inflammatory response which prevents inflammation and muscle spasms.
What to Look For
For those of you who suffer from muscle spasms – whether they are minor or severe – and want to try cannabis as a treatment, it is advisable to look for CBD-dominant cannabis. It is also important to start low and go slow in your consumption. Your Greenlight Approved cannabis guide can help you find the right product to get you started.
For some sufferers of severe muscle pain and tightness, a topical or transdermal patch applied directly on the affected will help ease the agony. These are great products for localized pain for ailments such as neuropathy, fibromyalgia and cramps.
For more serious symptoms related to MS, epileptic conditions and ALS, tinctures high in CBD have been found to be most effective. Interestingly, some studies show that smoked or vaporized cannabis is preferable – most likely because or the immediate relief it provides.
Once again, consult with your Greenlight Approved cannabis retailer. It may also be wise to experiment a little. Buy a few products and see for yourself what works best for you.