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Medical Cannabis and Spinal Cord Injury

November 30, 2019 • • Medical MarijuanaPain Relief
Medical Cannabis and Spinal Cord Injury

Medical Cannabis and Spinal Cord Injury

Suffering an injury to the spinal cord can result in debilitating pain, muscle spasms, and paralysis. Practitioners are increasingly recommending medical cannabis to manage these devastating symptoms. Of all the conditions that tend to cause chronic pain, few are more persistent or overwhelming than spinal cord injuries (SCI). Because compressed vertebrae can damage or destroy the nerve cell axons that are critical to motor functions, pain that results from these injuries is neuropathic, meaning it can seem to originate from parts of the body that aren’t impacted by an injury, or even ones that have no feeling in them.  Many traditional medications available for this pain feature either disruptive side effects or the potential for addiction. But marijuana has long been considered an alternative method of treating the pain, spascity, insomnia, and depression associated with these injuries. In fact, as medical cannabis is legalized in more states across the country, it might be seen less as the “alternative” option, and more as a way for patients to find real relief while avoiding addictive opioid pain medications

Dealing with SCI

The spinal cord is a complex part of the human anatomy. Exactly how a patient experiences an SCI depends on the location, severity, and kind of damage. However, in general terms, spinal cord injuries are placed into one of two categories: complete and incomplete. Complete injuries entail the total loss of motor and sensory function in every part of the body below the point of damage, while incomplete injuries leave the patient with some function in the affected area. An SCI can refer to any form of trauma experienced by the spine, whether from external injury or internal cancer growth. Dislodged bone fragment, ligaments, or disc material can damage the spinal tissue in a range of different ways. Naturally, this extremely variable form of injury produces a wide variety of side effects. Blood clotting, severe pain and stiffness, anxiety and depression, or loss of control over bladder and bowels, are only a few common issues. These injuries can happen to anyone, but they’re especially frequent among those who work or have worked in dangerous conditions, including the military, police departments, or manufacturing. Because of the traumatic nature of these injuries, they are often paired with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), another condition that is increasingly being treated with medical cannabis.

Marijuana’s Effects on Spinal Injury Symptoms

A number of studies have confirmed that marijuana offers a range of palliative properties for SCI patients. Researchers have observed that the non-psychoactive cannabinoid CBD can relieve SCI symptoms like pain and spasticity, and has even been shown to improve motor function. THC, the psychoactive cannabinoid, has a proven impact on insomnia, incontinence, and chronic pain. indeed, a 2016 study found that a surprisingly large portion of people with SCI regularly take cannabis for therapeutic purposes.  The fact that marijuana was illegal in most of the country until very recently means that it will be years until a larger body of research is available to explain the relationship between cannabis, neuropathic pain, and other symptoms of spinal cord injury. But at the moment, it’s clear that patients dealing with these injuries should talk to their doctor about the potential of this drug to relieve their symptoms and improve their quality of life.

For Those Seeking Alternative SCI Treatment

Those who are coping with a spinal cord injury in Ohio now have options when it comes to seeking alternative treatments. Lakewood Medical Clinic is a holistic medical practice promoting the use of cannabis as a complement to traditional treatment. If you suffer from a SCI, reach out to us today to schedule a medical consultation. Our expert clinicians can help determine whether medical cannabis can be part of an effective course of treatment.