If you are from millions of people suffering from chronic pain and other medical conditions experienced because of it, such as anxiety, depression, insomnia, and fatigue. Then you might have heard about medical cannabis and its benefits in easing the pain and might also give it a try.
However, before you proceed with it and ask the physician to recommend it, it is better to educate yourself about its usage and benefits. Therefore, in this guide, we have listed down all the benefits and methods to help relieve your chronic pain conditions.
What Is Chronic Pain?
Before diving deeper, let’s first understand chronic pain. It can be distinguished from acute pains by the fact that chronic pain is any pain that you have been experiencing for three or more months. It can be continuous or may come and go. While acute pain is when you hurt or cut yourself. Around 25% of adults in the United States suffer from chronic pain and face hardships in performing their routine tasks.
In addition, chronic pain may feel like shooting, burning, aching, throbbing, stinging, stiffness, and squeezing. Sometimes, suffering from it can also result in other medical conditions, including mood swings, anxiety, depression, insomnia, and fatigue, bringing more difficulties for chronic patients to live a normal life.
How To Get And Use Medical Cannabis for Chronic Pain?
Medical cannabis has gained state-wide legalization in 36 US states, including California, Washington DC, Columbia, Alaska, Florida, and Arizona. However, even with the legalization, you cannot just go to any licensed dispensary and get your hands on a medical cannabis product. And you should also not try to do it.
Many researchers, scientists, and doctors are studying the effects of medical cannabis on the human body and mind in treating different medical conditions. Despite this, it is a considerably new medicine, and the general public has even less knowledge about its usages, benefits, and side effects.
Therefore, if you are someone suffering from chronic pain and want to try medical cannabis to relieve your pain, follow the steps listed below:
Step # 1 – Get A Doctor’s Appointment For Prescription
Your first step should be to get a doctor’s appointment. Why? Because medical cannabis is a medicine controlled by the State, and if you want to be eligible for the medical cannabis card, you need to abide by the rules. That is, you must have a qualifying medical condition.
For it, the doctor will check you up and diagnose whether you have a qualifying medical condition like chronic pain or not. Then, based on the provided prescription, you will become eligible for the card to acquire and use medical cannabis.
For a typical chronic pain diagnosis, your doctor may ask you a few or all of the following questions:
- Where are you feeling the pain?
- On a scale of 0 to 10, rate the intensity of your pain?
- How much is it affecting your work and personal life?
- How often does the pain occur?
- What makes it trigger and make it worse?
- Are you having anxiety, depression, mood swings, insomnia?
- Have you undergone any surgeries?
Moreover, your doctor may also perform a physical examination and ask for tests to have more insight into your condition and its potential causes. The doctor may request for:
- Urine tests
- Blood tests
- Balance and reflex tests
- X-rays or MRIs (Imaging tests)
- For muscle activity – Electromyography tests
- Spinal fluid tests
- Nerve conduction studies.
However, things are not that simple. Since each state has different laws and regulations when it comes to medical cannabis, therefore you need to ensure whether your residing State qualifies chronic pain as a qualifying medical condition or not.
Step # 2 – Choose What Type Of Medical Cannabis You Want To Use
Let’s assume you live in Florida and successfully qualify and get a medical cannabis card by your State. At this stage, you might want to go to your nearest Florida medical marijuana dispensary to shop for any product that may help you relieve your pain.
Pivot! A big no for trying random products. If you do so, you might end up worsening your condition. Medical cannabis is no magic potion; it is a medicine. Like any other medicine, it can also be abused and have side effects if overdosed or used without proper research against your medical condition.
There are different medical cannabis products out there; some are completely CBD (cannabidiol) compound based while others with CBD dominance with a very little proportion of THC compound (tetrahydrocannabinol). Depending upon the severity of your pain and the type of chronic pain you experience, you will be prescribed a medical cannabis product as every product, and every type has a different benefit. Moreover, the consumption method you choose matters as it will decide how much compound your body will absorb and how long the effect will remain.
There are three main methods of consuming medical cannabis:
Inhalation (Vaping & Smoking) – This method enables your body to absorb active compounds in your medical cannabis through inhalation. It may provide immediate relief in chronic pain. It may also help reduce pain in neuropathic or centralized pain conditions such as fibromyalgia.
Edibles – If you don’t want to ingest cannabis concentrates through vaping, try using gummies, brownies, cookies, granolas, or use cannabis-infused beverages like soda, smoothie, juices, and tea. Consuming medical cannabis in the form of edibles will have a slow and less predictable uptake against your chronic pain. Hence, your pain is not too severe; you can opt for this method.
Tropicals – You can use medical cannabis topicals for pain-relieving effects without ingestion. They include lotions, ointments, salves, and oils for external use. They are not readily absorbable, but they provide short-term instant relief from pain.
Step # 3 – Get Into The Science Of Medical Cannabis For Better Decision Making
Methods are only the basics; the real deal is the proportion of CBD and THC. For severe chronic pain, most physicians recommend a medical cannabis product with a CBD:THC proportion of 1:1. However, it is not standard, and the recommendation may vary from patient to patient and their pain’s severity level.
In this guide, we have given you insight into distinguishing between chronic pain and acute pain. Moreover, we also discussed how you could get and use medical cannabis in different states, what questions the doctor may ask you and what tests he ran through for a valid diagnosis and to find its potential causes. In addition, we also discussed the effects of different consumption types of vaping and the importance of understanding the proportions of CBD and THC compounds before making the purchase.
According to research published in an online journal named Addiction, medical cannabis is helping in reducing the death rate of chronic pain patients by overdosing Opioids. Medical cannabis provides a practical alternative for chronic pain patients and helps them live better lives. Therefore, if you find it difficult to sustain normalcy in your life because of your increased chronic pain, book your appointment with a physician. However, don’t forget to check your State laws to find whether it is legal there or not.