Fibromyalgia is a complex condition characterized primarily by musculoskeletal pain, but can also appear as extreme fatigue, sleep issues, fluctuations in mood and memory problems. Many patients with fibromyalgia also suffer tension headaches, TMJ, irritable bowel syndrome, anxiety, and depression. Although the condition remains somewhat of a mystery, experts believe that the condition heightens painful sensations by influencing the way the brain processes pain signals.
The origin of fibromyalgia is mostly unknown, sometimes appearing after a physical trauma such as a car accident. At other times, it may manifest after surgery or significant infection. Some patients exhibit symptoms after psychological stress, but in many cases, the symptoms gradually demonstrate over time with no clear genesis. There is currently no cure for this painful condition, although there are a handful of medications to handle symptoms, and exercise and stress reduction can help.
Many patients with fibromyalgia have found that medical cannabis provides relief for their symptoms. The THC in marijuana is similar to cannabinoid chemicals made by the human body. These chemicals stimulate receptors in the brain, triggering the brain’s reward system, and minimizing pain.
If you are considering medical marijuana to treat your fibromyalgia, it is essential to understand what type of fibromyalgia you are experiencing.
Joint Pain: Achiness and swelling of joints in one of the most common complaints of fibromyalgia patients.
Neuropathic Pain: Neuropathic pain often feels like a pinched, burning or itching sensation, usually in the arms and legs.
Headaches and Migraines: Most fibromyalgia patients experience moderate to severe headaches and migraines, often complicated with dizziness, vision problems, and sleep issues.
Abdominal Issues: Chronic pain, irritable bowel syndrome, indigestion, acid reflux, diarrhea, and nausea may all be present with this condition.
Pelvic Pain: Pain during sex, increased urinary frequency and urgency, bladder discomfort, and pain during urination are common complaints.
Hyperalgesia: Normal pain response is elevated, causing more pain and discomfort than those without this condition.
Allodynia: Also known as central sensitization, patients may experience skin discomfort
How Medical Cannabis Can Help
Cannabinoids have been used for hundreds of years for naturally treating pain and inflammation. Many fibromyalgia patients report that medical cannabis delivers desirable results with no side effects, and report coming off conventional drugs altogether. Due to the unrelenting and unpredictable nature of fibromyalgia symptoms, relief can be elusive. Yet medical cannabis has proven the right solution for thousands of people living with fibromyalgia.
Administering cannabis through smoking will provide the most immediate relief, preferable to someone experiencing severe pain. However, if a patient is opposed to the idea of smoking or is concerned about how certain combustion related products in smoke may affect their lungs, vaping may be a viable alternative. Unfortunately, during the current Covid-19 crises we are recommending that patients consider non-inhalation methods of cannabis use. There has been some evidence that inhalation of smoke as well as vapor, may reduce resistance to this virus.
Advancements in the production of edibles have resulted in precise dosing, a vital factor to consider for many medical cannabis users. While the pain-relieving effects of edibles may take between thirty minutes and 2 hours to kick in, the relief typically lasts longer. This makes edibles a practical choice just before bedtime, as it gives the patient a better chance at a good night’s sleep.
Topicals are effective in delivering pain relief directly to affected joints. In 2017, Cannabis Science announced a new cannabis patch for fibromyalgia patients. The patch would administer controlled doses of cannabinoids throughout the day, helping individuals to maintain a healthy level of activity.
If you are interested in learning more about how medical cannabis can help to treat your fibromyalgia, call Dr, Daniel P. Stein of Neurology of Cannabis. Dr. Stein is a renowned expert in the field and has been successfully treating Sarasota area patients for decades.