Why is medical marijuana good for chronic pain?
The Georgia medical marijuana program allows for patients with intractable pain as a qualifying condition for medical marijuana certifications.
While intractable pain is a more specific subset of chronic pain, the two diagnoses do share similarities, and chronic pain is historically the most common qualifying condition for medical marijuana patients.
In this article, we’ll cover how cannabis can help with chronic and intractable pain, and why many patients suffering from chronic pain often look at medical marijuana as a possible alternative to drugs with dangerous side effects.
What’s the Difference Between Chronic and Intractable Pain?
Chronic pain is defined as pain that is ongoing and lasts longer than the usual recovery period, or as a result of a chronic condition that causes pain as a symptom.
Intractable pain as defined for Georgia medical marijuana certifications is pain that meets the following criteria:
Pain that is not acute or due to an immediate cause
Chronic and will last for the duration of your life
Interferes with your ability to function normally
The main difference between chronic and intractable pain is that chronic pain is essentially unusual and persistent pain, but intractable pain is chronic pain that is severe, not from an immediate cause such as a recent accident or fall, and is expected to be permanent.
For example, it is possible that a car accident that was severe enough to cause permanent limb and nerve damage, making an individual unable to walk without persistent pain for the rest of their life would qualify as both chronic and intractable pain, even though the pain is due to an immediate cause.
A recent injury requiring crutches, a cast, or rehabilitation and is expected to get better in 6-8 months would likely only qualify as chronic or acute pain, not intractable pain.
Why is Cannabis Used for Chronic and Intractable Pain?
Historically, chronic pain is the most common diagnosis for medical marijuana certifications.
Chronic pain is also the most common cause of long-term disability in the US, and affects more people than cancer, heart disease, and diabetes combined.
The use of cannabis as an anesthetic is dated somewhere as early as C.110-207 in China, where a physician named Hua Tuo created a concoction of wine mixed with cannabis to be used during surgery.
In fact, Hua Tuo is credited as the first person in China to use anesthesia during surgery.
Cannabis interacts with receptors in our brain that likely modulate the perception of pain, and this could be one of the main reasons why cannabis has been used to treat chronic pain for so long.
Aside from the positive mental effects that cannabis can provide, patients consistently report that cannabis helps tremendously with pain, or the perception of pain.
Pain is a very complex symptom and isn’t comprehensively understood in medical science. Because pain is a very subjective experience, often it is complicated to understand how to treat persistent or chronic pain when the underlying cause is largely unknown.
Conditions like fibromyalgia and idiopathic pain both exemplify extreme pain for currently unknown reasons, and often treatment plans include heavy regiments of painkillers like opiates, barbiturates, or opioids to focus on alleviating pain, although it will persist regardless.
This can put a person at increased risk for addiction and complications, and unfortunately treating the symptoms of a condition is unlikely to treat the underlying condition in this case, causing a permanent need for pharmaceutical medications.
Cannabis as an Alternative Medicine for Chronic & Intractable Pain
Prescription opiates cause nearly two-thirds of overdose deaths in Georgia.
Nationally in 2012, 259 million people were prescribed opioid painkillers, and an estimated 2 million people later developed an addiction.
Long term opioid use is linked to more than just addiction and overdose, but also complications such as breathing problems, immunosuppression, myocardial infarction, tooth decay, and possibly even decreased libido and infertility.
It is widely known that the long-term effects of opioid use and the increased risk for addiction and overdose have put these painkillers in a category most Americans would be uncomfortable with.
Still, opioids consistently rank among some of the most common prescriptions from health care providers in the US.
As recent as 2019, providers in the US wrote 153 million opioid prescriptions, that’s a rate of 46.7 opioid prescriptions per 100 people.
There are even guidelines in place to help prevent opioids being used as the first approach to chronic pain, however primary care clinicians write almost half of all opioid prescriptions in the United States.
Several studies have consistently shown that cannabis has a high potential for reducing opioid use, and data also suggests that when access to medical marijuana becomes available, opioid related deaths appear to go down significantly. Studies also suggest that cannabis has the potential to help wean heavy opioid users off prescription medications.
Cannabis does not share the same known long-term effects as opiates and opioids. Although more studies are needed to understand the long-term effects of cannabis, there is no evidence to suggest that cannabis use is linked to reduced mortality or increased physical dependency, which both opiates and opioids share.
Cannabis may be a safer alternative to harmful opiates, opioids, and barbiturates, and Georgia patients diagnosed with intractable pain can apply for a medical marijuana certification and receive $25 off when we start processing applications.
Get Your Georgia Marijuana Card
As a Georgia marijuana patient, you can legally purchase up to 20 ounces of low THC cannabis oil. For Georgians, this means getting the relief you need naturally and organically, and Georgia Marijuana Card is here to help.
Reserve your appointment today and get $25 off when we start processing applications!
Feel free to give us a call at (866) 781-5606, and we can help answer your questions about getting medical marijuana in Georgia