Pain and Spasticity
As reported by the IOM, surveys in 2006 and 2010 reveal that
1. 26% of Americans over the age of 20 (76.5m people) reported chronic pain (defined as pain lasting > 24 hrs) in 2010
2. 63% of those sought treatment from a licensed doctor (medical, osteopath, ND, chiro etc but presumably not massage etc)
3. So about 48.2m office visits for chronic pain in 2010 in the US
4. Interestingly despite treatment or not over 50% said they had little or no control of the pain
5. The 2010 survey estimated the cost to business alone (ie not other social/psych costs or the costs of the meds) at $300-335b annually due to lost productivity.
Pain can result from accidental injury (for example while driving, sitting, playing sports or fighting), disease or medical therapy (drugs, surgery). Pain is the bodies way of telling the conscious self to pay attention. If the self ignores the pain, it becomes chronic. Pain can vary in intensity and is measured subjectively.
Allopathic medicine is focused on removing the sensation of pain thru medication. If you want to treat the underlying cause of pain you see a chiropractor, masseuse or herbalist.
Fibromyalgia may be a special case. Once thought to be a so called psychosomatic condition, it is now thought to arise from an imbalance of sensory neurons with unknown cause:
The following article cites the case of a woman whose fibromyalgia pain was relieved by marijuana:
In this article from From the Daily Chronic, Jan 14 2014, even the NFL sees the potential of marijuana in pain and concussion management:
‘NEW YORK, NY — There’s a glimmer of hope that someday the NFL may allow its players to use medical marijuana.
Roger Goodell, the league commissioner, was asked by ESPN about the issue, to which Goodell responded, “I don’t know what’s going to develop as far as the next opportunity for medicine to evolve and to help either deal with pain or help deal with injuries, but we will continue to support the evolution of medicine.”
Currently the two top playoff teams, the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks, play where both medical and recreational use of marijuana is legal, and eight more play in medical marijuana states.
Inhaled cannabis has shown to protect the brain from the damage of concussion, an injury the NFL just settled a class-action lawsuit over for $765 million.’
The pain modulating effect of marijuana is due to its binding to CB2 receptors in tissues:
As is the case for most therapeutic uses of marijuana, drug companies are looking for analogs. This one for joint pain:
An up to date assessment of marijuana and pain can be found in
Role of Cannabinoids in Pain Management
by Ethan B. Russo M.D., Andrea G. Hohmann Ph.D.
This is the abstract:
‘It is a curious fact that we owe a great deal of our insight into pharmacological treatment of pain to the plant world. Willow bark from Salix spp. led to development of aspirin and eventual elucidation of the analgesic effects of prostaglandins and their role in inflammation. The opium poppy (Papaver somniferum) provided the prototypic narcotic analgesic morphine, the first alkaloid discovered, and stimulated the much later discovery of the endorphin and enkephalin systems. Similarly, the pharmacological properties of cannabis (Cannabis sativa) prompted the isolation of Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the major psychoactive ingredient in cannabis, in 1964. It is this breakthrough that subsequently prompted the more recent discovery of the body’s own cannabis-like system, the endocannabinoid system (ECS), which modulates pain under physiological conditions.’
Muscle spasms are common and painful. The ability of cannabis to relax cramping is documented as far back as Queen Victoria’s use to relieve menstrual symptoms. Today marijuana is being explored clinically to reduce muscle spasms associated with two devastating conditions: multiple sclerosis (MS) and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). These references describe some recent clinical trials: