How Does Medical Marijuana Work to Relieve Pain?

With multiple states legalizing medical marijuana, patients may wonder how they can use it to relieve conditions like chronic pain. Like any other medicine, medical marijuana works best when taken under a doctor’s supervision. Its compounds work with your body’s systems to change their function. Discover how medical marijuana works to relieve pain and how you can get treatment.

What Types of Pain Can Medical Marijuana Relieve?

Medical marijuana can relieve multiple varieties of pain.1-2 Research shows that it can reduce the following pain types:

  • Chronic: Medical cannabis can reduce chronic pain symptoms to increase a patient’s comfort throughout the day.
  • Neuropathic: Evidence suggests that medical marijuana relieves neuropathic pain, or pain caused by nerve damage.

If you have a different type of pain, you may also get benefits from medical marijuana. Consult a trained doctor about your options.

How Do the Compounds in Marijuana Treat Pain?

The cannabis plant features more than 400 chemical compounds that include cannabinoids.3 Cannabinoids, or the components unique to marijuana, include tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). Out of the more than 60 cannabinoids out there, THC and CBD have the most research. These compounds impact your body’s endocannabinoid system, a network of receptors and natural compounds.

Your endocannabinoid system consists of endocannabinoids, cannabinoids created by your body, and cannabinoid receptors. The CB1 and CB2 receptors attach to cannabinoids from marijuana and your body and send signals throughout your system. These messages help your body moderate pain and other symptoms. THC and CBD can reduce inflammation and relax muscles to relieve related pain.

Does Pain Qualify for Medical Marijuana in New York?

Many of the states that have legal medical marijuana require a patient to qualify for it by having a specific condition. In New York, a patient must have a diagnosis for a qualifying ailment in addition to an approved symptom.4 Chronic pain counts as a qualifying condition on its own. As a result, you do not necessarily have to get a diagnosis for a related ailment. You can also qualify for medical marijuana treatment for pain if you experience it as a symptom of:

  • Cancer
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Neuropathy
  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Spinal cord injury

A healthcare professional registered with New York’s medical marijuana program can help you determine whether you qualify for treatment.

What Other Conditions Can Medical Marijuana Treat?

If you have another chronic symptom that affects your quality of life, you may qualify for medical marijuana in New York. Additional eligible conditions for medicinal cannabis in New York include:

  • Epilepsy
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Cachexia/wasting syndrome
  • Severe nausea
  • Seizures
  • Muscle spasms
  • Opioid use disorder
  • Parkinson’s disease

In some cases, medical marijuana can treat multiple symptoms at once. A registered healthcare professional can provide more information.

Contact Us About Medical Marijuana Treatment for Chronic Joint Pain

If you want to learn more about using medical marijuana for pain, visit Dr. Syed Husain at Regional Orthopedics. As our pain management specialist, he can discuss traditional and alternative pain relief methods with you. He has a registration with the New York medical marijuana program and can help you understand if you could benefit from it. Start the process today by contacting us to schedule an appointment.

Reference List:

1. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. The health effects of cannabis and cannabinoids: Current state of evidence and recommendations for research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.

2. Hill KP. Medical Marijuana for Treatment of Chronic Pain and Other Medical and Psychiatric Problems. JAMA. 2015;313(24):2474. doi:10.1001/jama.2015.6199.

3. Atakan Z. Cannabis, a complex plant: different compounds and different effects on individuals. Therapeutic Advances in Psychopharmacology. 2012;2(6):241-254. doi:10.1177/2045125312457586.

4. New York State Department of Health. Information for Patients. Accessed July 17, 2019.

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