Pain management is an important aspect of health care. Pain is something that lets us know that there is something wrong in our body that needs to be fixed. It can be called a blessing in disguise. But when the pain becomes persistent, life becomes increasingly difficult. A large percentage of adults in the United States of America live with chronic pain. Usually patients of Terminal diseases such as cancer experience chronic pain. To manage this pain, certain medication is prescribed to such people. Pain management is not only essential for cancer care, but other severe conditions can result in chronic pain too such as migraine, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis, stomach ulcers, and conditions caused by HIV. All these conditions require proper pain management through medical drugs prescribed by doctors.
Traditional Pain Management Prescription
When it comes to pain management especially managing chronic pain, opioids are the go-to drugs. Opioids are extremely effective in alleviating pain. They have been used to manage the pain of different severe conditions such as cancer, migraines, accidents, and injuries of the brain and spinal cord for a long time. However, they accompany a lot of side effects.
Side Effects of Opioid Medical Drugs
Opioids can be effective pain killers but they have a ton of side effects. They can range from dizziness, drowsiness, hallucinations, breathing issues, nausea, etc.
Long-term use can also have highly adverse effects on one’s body. There is a high risk of dependency on opioids. When patients try to withdraw, they experience withdrawal symptoms such as the extreme urge to consume the drug.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the overdose of prescription drugs (including opioids) more than 28000 people in 2014 lost their lives in the United States. Unfortunately, this number is only increasing at an alarmingly high rate every year.
Alternative – Cannabinoid-based pain management
Cannabinoids extracted from cannabis plants including nabilone, dronabinol, and CBD can be helpful in pain management. CBD is a nonpsychoactive compound while THC is the primary psychoactive compound found in cannabis.
A lot of research suggests that medical marijuana can be a much better alternative to opioids in terms of pain management. In one research, patients who used opioids for pain management were made to replace opioids with medical marijuana. Most of them suggested that they experienced the same pain management with almost 50 percent fewer side effects.
Neuropathic Pain Management
Medical Marijuana displayed efficiency in alleviating neuropathic pain resulting from certain health conditions. The conditions include multiple sclerosis, neuropathy, and injuries inflicted on the spinal cord or brain.
History of Alleviating Properties of Marijuana
Incorporating medical marijuana in healthcare to help manage pain is not new. On the contrary, throughout history, a lot of nations and civilizations have been using cannabis and utilizing its pain management benefits in healthcare practices. But to access it you need a West Virginia medical marijuana card.
Examples from history
Chinese acupuncture, Indian Ayurveda, and people of medieval Arab and Africa all used to gain benefit from this ‘forbidden flower’.
Hindrance to Research on Medical Marijuana
Medical Marijuana can play a significant role in replacing opioids by reducing the risks and maintaining proper pain management. However, cannabis is widely associated with its recreational form. Therefore, there is a stigma attached to it. Marijuana is illegal in most of the countries around the globe. Its cultivation and processing have been illegal in the United States for more than 70 years now.
Although the use of medical marijuana for certain conditions is getting legalized in some states including West Virginia. Still, due to this, the research on marijuana faces a lot of obstacles.
Side Effects of Medical Cannabis
The side effects of medical marijuana are significantly lower than the severe side effects of opioids. However, using marijuana for pain management has some issues too. Especially when used by an inexperienced user, if large amounts of doses are taken, there can be several side effects. A good thing is that most of these are short-term effects and our bodies can tolerate most of them over time. They include diarrhea, loss of appetite, vomiting, etc.
These side effects compared to those of opioids are nothing. Nevertheless, more research should be done on medical marijuana its effects on our bodies, and its side effects.