Stabbing, burning and prickling—these are the unpleasant sensations you may feel if you suffer from neuropathic pain.
There are several causes of nerve pain, but it often results from an injury or illness.
Although the sensations may come and go, they’re often chronic and severe. Unfortunately, neuropathic pain affects about two million Canadians.
For some patients, neuropathic pain can’t be fully cured and they must instead work to manage the sensations.
Luckily, many people with severe nerve pain finally find relief through medical cannabis. We’ll detail how treatment with medical marijuana works in this post.
Does Medical Cannabis Work for Neuropathic Pain?
Numerous studies have shown that marijuana can be an effective medicine for chronic pain.
But how does cannabis work to treat nerve pain specifically?
Cannabinoids—or marijuana’s chemicals— can block specific neurotransmitters that cause pain.
A recent 2018 study concluded that cannabis may be as tolerable and effective as pharmaceutical drugs used to treat nerve pain. The authors noted that physician-guided vaporization and oral delivery had the most clinical evidence.
Even if you don’t want to use significant amounts of medical cannabis to control the pain, this medicine could still work for you. Researchers studied a group of patients that still had neuropathic pain despite traditional treatment. Some patients were given a medium dose to vaporize and others were given a low dose. They found that the low dose worked as well as the medium dose. Not only did it provide relief, but the psychoactive effects, or the “high,” from cannabis was minimal and well-tolerated by sufferers.
Your medical marijuana doctor may also recommend a CBD-based medication, which you can take without getting any psychoactive effects. Recent research has found that CBD is also effective for chronic nerve pain.
Cannabis Compared to Other Drugs for Nerve Pain
If you’re considering using cannabis as a treatment, you should know how it stacks up against other nerve pain medications.
A doctor may prescribe drugs to treat the underlying disease or condition. They may also recommend medication for pain management, including:
- Anti-inflammatory drugs (ex. Aleve)
- Those with relentless pain will need a stronger drug, such as opioid medications
As we detailed above, some patients find relief from cannabis even when traditional drugs haven’t helped the pain. Stronger drugs, such as opioid medication, may not be as effective for neuropathic pain as it is for other types of pain. Research on its ability to treat patients is mixed.
Even if a narcotic pain reliever works for you, there are a variety of side effects. Short-term, they can lead to constipation, drowsiness and nausea or vomiting. On the severe side, opioid tolerance can lead to addiction.
Antidepressants have a variety of possible side effects ranging from nausea to anxiety.
Even over-the-counter pain relievers can be harmful to your heart and stomach when used long-term.
On the other hand, when a person uses cannabis, they may experience milder side effects such as impairment or anxiety.
Comparing the side effects and effectiveness of cannabis to those of other drugs, many doctors will agree that it’s a safer choice.
How to Use Medical Cannabis for Nerve Pain
There are many different types and forms of cannabis. Because of this, your medication can be personalized for you and your pain. However, for it to be effective, you need to get all of the variables correct, which is difficult when you’re self-medicating.
In addition, your medicine needs to be high-quality and consistent, and that’s why a prescription works best. In fact, the authors of a recent study on nerve pain warned against unregulated products sold in marijuana dispensaries.
Our medical cannabis doctors can help you find the medicine that works best for you. If you’re ready to finally get rid of the pain, book a no-obligation consultation today.