Acute pain is the way that nature advises that there is something wrong and that attention needs to be paid. However, chronic pain is a signal that is practically useless and tends to make people suffer. Some people can adapt to persistent pain while other must take medication on a consistent basis to manage. Among the alternative treatments available to patients dealing with chronic pain is acupuncture, cannabis, exercise, chiropractic sessions, supplements, and therapy, among others. Results from many of these techniques vary; however, some supplements such as Curamed reduce inflammation using natural ingredients that help the body naturally respond to pain, without side-effects. Other treatments, such as those involving the use of medicinal marijuana, are more controversial but are showing promising results.
A wide variety of medications exists, vegetable-based and synthetic, that treat pain. Some of these take effect at a local level such as aspirin or anti-inflammatory analgesic products. The effectiveness is sufficient for acute pain. However, for chronic pain, the effectiveness is limited, and the consistent use produces side-effects that lead to complex medical issues such as gastric lesions and others. The next category of pain medications includes the natural opioids, such as morphine and codeine, and their synthetic derivatives. These work by manipulating the nervous systems in charge of transmitting pain signals. The potency of these drugs is much higher and produces side-effects such as constipation, cardiorespiratory issues, dizziness, among other more severe effects. Some of the effects are dangerous and toxic. Furthermore, many of these medications have addictive properties. In 2014, over 28,000 people died from overdosing on opioids.
Pain Treatment with Cannabis
Pain treatment with marijuana involves the effects derived from cannabinoids, and these are divided into three groups that include the terpenophenolic compounds that naturally occur in the cannabis plant, the endogenous variety found in the human body, and the synthetic kind generated in a laboratory setting. Cannabinoids act by reducing the reactivity to pain. The analgesic action works through the endocannabinoid system (ECS) and functions similarly to how opioids control pain in the nervous system.
In a study published in 2015 in the journal Current Pain and Headache Report by Bjorn Jensen, Jeffery Chen, Tim Furnish, and Mark Wallace titled Medical Marijuana and Chronic Pain: A Review of Basic Science and Clinical Evidence, the researchers indicated that there is strong evidence supporting the use of cannabinoids for the management of chronic pain, especially when dealing with higher doses needed for treating pain associated with cancer, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), and multiple sclerosis (MS). However, in cases of acute pain, the researchers did not find enough evidence to suggest that the use of cannabis provided improved relief over other alternatives.
Much of the studies seem to have a problem that stems from a perspective of legality and acceptance. For example, much of the experimental double-blinded studies needed for drugs seeking Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval use clinical cases of chronic pain associated with diseases or conditions currently being treated by opioids or other potent drugs with harsh side-effects. Very few studies examine conditions where pain exists in patients that are not dealing with life-threatening or life-altering conditions, thus reducing the ability to examine results scientifically in these cases.
The scientific community requires additional access and resources to conduct more research to determine the viability of medical cannabis in other areas of medicine and evaluate the risks and potential benefits of the drug. Furthermore, because of the classification of marijuana in many states in the United States and at the federal level, researchers and patients need to weigh the legal ramifications of the use of the substance. Experts suggest seeking counsel from medical marijuana lawyers to ensure compliance and legal protection. Such protections are needed to provide a safe and non-biased environment that can promote objective scientific research.