Would you be surprised to learn that treating chronic pain is the number one reason for requesting a recommendation for medical marijuana? A study published in 2020 in the Journal of Cannabis Research revealed as much. But as is the case with any type of medication, medical marijuana is just one option for treating chronic pain.
The tricky thing about chronic pain is that people experience it in different ways and at different levels. What is extremely painful to one person barely registers as a blip on the radar screen of another. Doctors have to rely primarily on patient perceptions in order to determine whether or not a treatment is working.
Another difficulty is dealing with the chronic aspect. Chronic pain is generally defined as pain that persists over a prolonged period of time. But what constitutes a prolonged period of time? A patient might experience chronic pain for a few months after a car accident. But by the sixth or seventh month, the pain is gone. Should his pain be treated differently because it only lasts for five months, as opposed to years?
A Better Option Than Opioids
It is not hard to justify medical marijuana as being a better option than opioids. We already know opioids are highly addictive. We also know they have been over prescribed in the U.S. for far too long. On the other hand, it would appear as though cannabis is significantly less addictive.
Medical providers at Utahmarijuana.org say they routinely consult with patients looking to reduce or eliminate opioid use by using medical marijuana to treat their chronic pain. It is hard to argue against that being a good thing. Nonetheless, medication is still medication. There may be other ways to treat chronic pain that do not require daily drug intake.
Kyphoplasty for Back Pain
As people age, bone density can decrease as a result of osteoporosis. This can lead to spinal cord fractures that result in severe, chronic pain. The fractures can also damage a person’s posture as a vertebrae collapse. Doctors can treat the pain associated with spinal cord fractures via medication. But they can also treat them by getting to the root of the problem with a procedure known as kyphoplasty.
Kyphoplasty utilizes a small balloon device to restore a collapsed vertebrae to its original position and size. The balloon is then removed while the cavity it leaves behind is filled with bone cement. Patients almost always experience immediate pain relief and a return of normal posture.
Prolotherapy and Regenerative Medicine
Prolotherapy is a treatment utilized for soft-tissue injuries to ligaments, tendons, cartilage, etc. Regenerative medicine procedures like stem cell injections and platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy are soft-tissue treatments as well. The one thing they all have in common is their ability to promote natural healing. Patients experience pain relief when their bodies are encouraged to heal themselves.
Other Things to Look Into
Kyphoplasty is a very specific treatment for a very specific kind of back pain. Prolotherapy and regenerative medicine procedures generally only work for soft-tissue injuries. The point is not to suggest that such treatments are always adequate substitutes for medical cannabis. Rather, it is simply to point out that there are other things to look into.
Patients turning to medical cannabis because other drug treatments do not work may find that cannabis does the trick. But settling for a different kind of medication may not be necessary. Medical cannabis is often just one option for treating chronic pain. There are other options out there for those willing to take an honest look at them.