Chronic pain is a debilitating condition that affects millions of people worldwide. It can significantly impact a person's quality of life, making it difficult for them to perform daily tasks and engage in social activities. Opioid medications are commonly used to manage chronic pain, but they come with significant risks, including addiction and overdose. Therapeutic marijuana is a promising alternative that can help manage chronic pain without the risks associated with opioid medications.
What is Therapeutic Marijuana?
Therapeutic marijuana, also known as medical marijuana, is a type of cannabis that is used to treat various medical conditions, including chronic pain. It contains chemical compounds known as cannabinoids, which interact with the body's endocannabinoid system to produce a range of therapeutic effects.
How Does Therapeutic Marijuana Help with Chronic Pain?
The cannabinoids found in therapeutic marijuana, specifically delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD), have been shown to provide pain relief by interacting with the endocannabinoid system. The endocannabinoid system is a complex network of receptors and neurotransmitters that are involved in various physiological processes, including pain perception.
THC is the primary psychoactive compound in therapeutic marijuana, and it works by binding to the cannabinoid receptors in the brain and nervous system. This binding can reduce pain signals and alleviate inflammation, leading to pain relief.
CBD, on the other hand, does not produce the "high" associated with THC, but it has been shown to provide pain relief by reducing inflammation and modulating the activity of the endocannabinoid system.
Why is Therapeutic Marijuana an Alternative to Opioid Medications?
Opioid medications are commonly prescribed for chronic pain management, but they come with significant risks, including addiction, tolerance, and overdose. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over 500,000 people died from opioid overdoses between 1999 and 2019 in the United States alone.
Therapeutic marijuana is a promising alternative to opioid medications because it has a lower risk of addiction and overdose. A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) found that states that had legalized medical marijuana had lower rates of opioid overdose deaths compared to states that had not legalized medical marijuana.
Additionally, therapeutic marijuana can provide pain relief without the adverse side effects associated with opioid medications, such as constipation, nausea, and respiratory depression.
Therapeutic Marijuana in Louisiana
Medical marijuana was legalized in Louisiana in 2015, and it's available for patients with certain medical conditions, including chronic pain. To qualify for medical marijuana in Louisiana, patients must have a qualifying medical condition and obtain a recommendation from a licensed healthcare provider. Chronic pain is a qualifying medical condition in Louisiana, but it must be diagnosed by a healthcare provider and have lasted for at least three months.
The state has licensed nine pharmacies to dispense medical marijuana, and patients must obtain their medical marijuana from one of these licensed dispensaries.
It's important to note that while medical marijuana may be an effective treatment option for chronic pain, it's not without risks. Patients should discuss the risks and benefits of medical marijuana with their healthcare provider before using it to manage chronic pain. Additionally, patients should follow the state's laws and regulations regarding medical marijuana use to avoid legal consequences.
Therapeutic marijuana is a promising alternative to opioid medications for chronic pain management. Its ability to provide pain relief without the risks associated with opioids makes it an attractive option for those seeking non-opioid treatments. However, it's important to note that therapeutic marijuana is not without risks, and patients should consult with their healthcare provider before using it to manage chronic pain. Overall, therapeutic marijuana offers a promising avenue for chronic pain management and may help reduce the opioid epidemic.
Louisiana Pain Specialists is currently accepting new patients for therapeutic marijuana evaluations and recommendations. Contact us today to make an appointment to discuss this treatment with one of our licensed TM providers.