JT: Neuropathic Pain
Neuropathic pain can be difficult to treat, but cannabis does kill the pain.
Around 2 years ago I started a new job and within the first hour, I was hit by a vehicle. It ran over my foot, causing three broken bones, deep tissue injuries, and permanent nerve damage in multiple areas. It also snapped some muscle that eventually healed into a quarter sized knot in my arch .
Surgery, apparently, would only make it worse.
Prescription pain pills were given at first but, I’m not a pill type person. I’d rather endure it than take any pills. So, I did some research on more natural ways to heal and cope with the pain. I went to cannabis. I started with the vape and noticed IMMEDIATE relief. This is more relief than all of the physical therapy I’ve ever had. Then, once the vape became harder to find, I decided to start smoking flower. I also use CBD drops everyday. It’s been two years now and cannabis is still helping manage pain and swelling. And I’m able to maintain working daily just as I could before.
I’d recommend cannabis to anyone that wants a natural way to manage pain of any sort.
From RxLeaf – Cannabis and Pain
The above story demonstrates just how effective cannabis is at targeting pain, especially neuropathic pain. Unlike other types of chronic pain, the neuropathic variety usually stems from nerve damage caused by injury or disease. Patients often describe the experience as a tingly, numb, burning, or cold sensation.
Cannabis’s effect over chronic pain and neuropathy, in particular, is well studied. So far scientists understand the basic relationship between cannabinoids and our endocannabinoid system as the basis for this therapeutic effect.
The endocannabinoid system, a series of chemical transmissions and receptor sites regulates pain. Specifically, the CB1 receptor which is concentrated in the central nervous system and brain is linked to pain regulation. In animals studies on mice with the CB1 receptor genetically removed, these animals seem to experience higher levels of pain than their companions who still have the receptor. Therefore there is a connection between pain and CB1 activity.
The cannabinoid THC is the only cannabinoid we know of that locks into the CB1 receptor, like a hand into a glove or a key into a lock. It’s a strong connection, that activates the receptor activity. Scientists believe when THC activates the receptor activity, it thereby activates better pain control.
As one of the most studied areas of cannabis, there is growing scientific support behind the plant’s benefit for patients with neuropathic pain. From a paper demonstrating a reduction in neuropathy for patients with HIV. Another recent double-blind, placebo-controlled study shows how vaped cannabis reduces neuropathic pain. Two types of cannabis extracts also exhibited positive benefits for the neuropathic pain associated with spinal cord injury.
These are just the tip of the iceberg. There is a growing mountain of evidence proving why chronic pain patients are choosing cannabis to improve quality of life.
From RxLeaf: Neuropathic Pain Science
One of the worst kinds of chronic pain is neuropathic pain. It refers to pain that arises from damage to the nerves — and it often comes from severe accidents, surgeries, or illnesses.
It’s distinct from other kinds of pain in several ways. It can cause sensations that feel like painful tingling, burning, and freezing. And it’s nearly impossible to treat.
Why? Because Neuropathic pain doesn’t respond well to most mainstream pain relievers. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like Tylenol and Advil don’t help. And stronger medicines like opioids don’t do much good either, except at extremely high doses. If you want to treat nerve pain, you have to think differently, and that means cannabis.
Cannabis helps soothe neuropathic pain by working on two levels. Nerve pain is a function of the brain as much as it is of the body. It cannot be treated by medications that affect only the physical aspects.
Nerve Pain and its Brainy Roots
One study published in the journal Neurology followed 15 men with chronic nerve pain and an average age of 33. Each of the participants had dealt with medium to high feelings of pain consistently for six months. The participants were given MRI brain scans, then dosed with THC, one of the active ingredients in cannabis.
After being dosed with 15 milligrams THC under the tongue, participants were asked about their pain, and then re-scanned in the MRI machines two hours later. What the researchers discovered was astounding.
Not only did THC help dull the pain — on average, patients ranked their discomfort nearly 20 points lower on a 100-point scale after taking THC — but the medicine also affected connections within their brains in significant ways.
The MRI scans showed that THC reduced the connections between parts of the brain responsible for processing sensations and emotions. More specifically, the scientists determined that chronic nerve pain is calmed by a functional disconnect of the brain’s sensorimotor cortex and its higher-order affective regions. In other words, nerve pain is (nearly) all in the head.
More Neuropathic Pain Relief From THC
More than that, patients who initially had more connections between these parts of the brain felt far more relief from THC than patients who had fewer initial connections. This suggests that there’s something about the way the brain’s region communicate that intensifies the sensation of nerve pain.
This makes sense. It’s called neuropathic pain for a reason. We’ve long known that this kind of pain isn’t the result of inflammation, and that is has a large neurological component.
For the record, the men in the study all suffered from a similar kind of nerve pain called radicular pain which branches out from the back into the lower body. It’s the kind of pain that’s present in people with sciatica. It’s a scathing kind of pain, and cannabis still managed to treat it effectively.
When Common Pain Isn’t Common
People who suffer from nerve pain come in all shapes and sizes, but what unites them is that many don’t suffer from nerve pain alone. Most people who have chronic neuropathic pain also suffer from other kinds of pain as well as illnesses and, sadly, poverty.
This makes nerve pain even harder to treat. After all, if you’re in three types of pain and Tylenol treats one, popping a little white pill will make you feel somewhat better. But it’s only treating one portion of your problems. This leads so many people to suffer in silence or take too many opioids in the hopes of finding a bit of relief.
Luckily, cannabis treats regular pain, too. And while it’s doing that, it also helps patients sleep. So cannabis can quite literally be a life saver for people with severe nerve pain, offering them a chance to feel normal again.