Medical Marijuana and Back Pain
Medical marijuana uses include back pain. Medical marijuana patients understand that back pain can not only be caused by trauma or muscle strain, but also by severe anxiety. The stressors of daily life increase our medical marijuana patients’ anxiety and this leads to increased muscle tension and pain. Physical stress from a traumatic car accident, a slip and fall injury, or a sports related injury is often linked to the pain. The key to identifying a traumatic injury is a significant change in pain level over a small period of time. However, the most common source of pain according to medical marijuana patients is manual labor or sports related wear and tear. This type of pain source occurs gradually. However, the treatment for each type of pain is often similar and combines lifestyle changes as well as natural medication that can help through the difficult pain periods.Many of our medical marijuana patients have a drastically different lifestyle than our ancestors did. Going back as recently as 200-300 years, the human beings of today walk less, are in more motor vehicle accidents, participate in high impact exercise but overall use their bodies less, sit more, are heavier, and have a more constant low level of stress.
Many patients who seek medical marijuana cards are looking for pain relief for their lower back. The common medical marijuana patient has seen multiple health care practitioners. They have seen their primary care physician and have x-rays an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) or CT (computed tomography)scan that may or may not show a “disc bulge”, “degenerative disc disease” or spinal stenosis. They have seen their chiropractor and are often diagnosed with“scoliosis.” They have tried ibuprofen, Advil, Motrin, and opioids for their pain. They might have had cortisone injections or back surgery. The common thread is that they still have persistent back pain. It often wakes them up in the night or prevents them from sleeping. They often have symptoms of pain shooting down their leg (sciatica). They come to the medical marijuana doctor as they have heard from many of their friends how medical cannabis has helped their pain.
How effective is medical marijuana in treating back pain? Studies have shown that cannabinoids in medical cannabis are most effective in treating neuropathic pain, such as the pain associated with sciatica. Medical marijuana use has also been reported by medical marijuana patients to relax muscle spasms that aggravate or are often the source of the back pain. Many medical marijuana patients often report that the tension associated with the back pain is what really bothers them and medical marijuana helps “relax” the pain. Many medical marijuana patients also state that medical marijuana distracts them from the pain and helps them to not fixate on the pain or to be able to function in their daily lives with the pain.Medical cannabis especially cannabis Indica with high CBD (cannabidiol) is useful in treating mild to moderate pain as well, if not better than, opioids such as codeine, Vicodin, Norco, OxyContin, Dilaudid. For immediate relief of pain smoking is superior to other methods. An under the tongue spray is also helpful for immediate relief. For long lasting pain relief oral medication or edible marijuana is suggested.
Of course, just managing the pain with a rescue medication like medical marijuana won’t fix your back. Pain management using medical cannabis is intended to allow you to exercise with the pain and the ability to work on things like flexibility, core stabilization, and weight loss in order to reduce your risk of back injuries now and in the future. You should be doing abdominal exercises three times a week for at least five minutes. These exercises that help lower back pain include plank dynamic and isometric exercises, crunches, Pilates. What about Yoga? Many of my patients who use medical marijuana do participate in Yoga and state it has been helpful for them. If it is helpful for your back pain,continue yoga. However, there are many unnatural poses and positions in Yoga that can be stressful for the back. It is also important to stretch your hamstrings, so at least 3 times a week for five minutes attempt to touch your toes. If you are sitting or standing a long period of time, I suggest you also wear a mover’s belt. Besides adding support to your already injured and spasming back muscles, a mover’s belt will compress the inflammation in your back.
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