Medical Marijuana Offers a Non-Opiate Solution to Chronic Pain

When discussing the ailments that medical marijuana can assist with, it seems that one ailment seems to be brought up over and over: chronic pain.  Those that suffer with chronic pain have no choice but to turn to pharmaceutical therapy, but unfortunately many of these medications, though effective, come with a laundry list of negative and sometimes even life-threatening side effects.  From nausea to addiction, sufferers face a myriad of obstacles when using opiates to deal with their chronic pain. Thankfully, with medical marijuana becoming legal in more and more states, there is another option.

What is Chronic Pain?

Chronic pain is an often discussed topic within the medical community.  Although there are medical professionals within the community that question the validity of such a diagnosis, the majority agree that chronic pain is a real problem for those that suffer with the ailment.  The American Pain Society has even categorized chronic pain into categories to easily understand the variables of each form of this ailment, further aiding in the understanding of it. These categories are pathological, neurological, physical, psychological, and social.  But, to break it down into a truly simple way of looking at it, it can be argued that chronic pain can be categorized by three variables. These variables are visceral, which includes the body’s internal organs, somatic, which represents skin and deep tissue, and neurogenic, which represents the body’s nerves.  Following this categorization, the Institute of Medicine has reported that roughly 100 million American adults suffer from chronic pain, with a cost of $560-635 billion per year in lost productivity and medical treatment.

What Issues Arise from Treating Chronic Pain with Opioids?

The first and foremost problem with treating chronic pain with opioIds has to do with the pain itself.  With the different categories of chronic pain, the different severities of the pain, and the unique way that each patient’s body reacts to pain makes it extremely hard for any medical professional to prescribe the pain medication that can help their patients the most.  Even if the correct medication with the right dosage is found, the patient then has to deal with the side effects of that medication. Patient complaints cover a broad spectrum of side effects, ranging from mild to extreme. Patients that only require short-term use of often only suffer from mild side effects, but unfortunately for those that require long-term pharmaceutical care the effects can be dangers.  Ulcers, respiratory depression, liver damage, addiction, and even death are very real concerns for these patients. Some patients may even develop a tolerance for the medications, rendering them useless.

How Can Medical Marijuana Treat Chronic Pain?

Medical marijuana is useful to treating the effects of chronic pain for a variety of reasons.  This alternative medicine can mitigate the body’s inflammatory process, can change the patient’s perception of pain, and can even affect the voltage-gated sodium channels that reside within the body’s nerves in a way that is quite a bit like lidocaine.  Cannabinoid receptors within the central nervous system control that control the body’s pain perception, and the cannabinoid receptors within the spleen, tonsils, and white blood cells that control immune function, react positively to medical marijuana cannabinoids.  This reaction causes the receptors to not only change the perception of the pain the patient is feeling, but can activate natural pain relief, allowing the patient’s symptoms to ease and abate. Also, since there are no cannabinoid receptors within the brainstem, the part of the brain that controls breathing, the fear of respiratory depression is null and void.  With the list of side effects much smaller and far less deadly, medical marijuana is a much safer and patient friendly option to managing their chronic pain symptoms.



Mary & Main is an accredited and fully licensed medical marijuana dispensary in Maryland.  If you’d like to reach out to Mary & Main with any question, concerns, or comments, please feel free to contact us at 855-922-6626.  We would be more than happy to assist you with anything we can, and look forward to speaking with you.

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