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How Medical Marijuana Helps With Pain Management?



Medical marijuana has recently gained a lot of popularity as a potential treatment for chronic pain. With its increasing legalization and growing research, patients and doctors are discovering the benefits of using medical cannabis for pain management and pain relief. Let’s examine how medical marijuana can help in pain management through the scientific basis of its effects, impacts, different methods of consumption, and the conditions it can potentially treat.


Medical Marijuana refers to using the cannabis plant and its compounds, especially cannabinoids, for medical purposes. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) are the two main cannabinoids that focus on pain relief and pain management. The “high” associated with cannabis is due to the psychoactive component THC, while CBD is known for its medicinal properties and is non-psychoactive. Let’s dive into the relationship between pain and medical marijuana.

Understanding Pain And Its Types


It is often a challenge to treat pain. Some forms of pain have no effective medicines or existing treatments. That’s why researchers discovered that marijuana has pain-relieving properties. It has been used in several painful conditions. 


Pain can be acute and chronic. For acute pain treatment, such as the discomfort after surgery, doctors usually prescribe opiates: narcotic drugs. For chronic pain, opiates are rarely effective and often cause nausea and sedation. People with chronic pain use opiates for a long period and increase their dosage. Therefore, better pain medications are necessary for pain management.

Pain signals originate and travel to the brain through three main pathways.

  • Somatic pain: Receptors send signals throughout the body if there’s an injury. These signals travel to the brain through peripheral nerves and are usually felt continually, an ache in the injured area.
  • Visceral pain: When tissues or organs within the abdominal cavity are stretched or disturbed by disease or injury, Visceral pain arises. It starts from receptors located in the gut, producing pressure deep in the abdomen. Visceral pain can often feel as though it’s coming from a different area of the body than its origin, it is also known as referred pain.
  • Neuropathic pain: It stems from nerve damage and is often felt as a burning sensation, sometimes triggered by gentle touches. Unlike several other types of pain, patients cannot get relief with narcotic painkillers. Antidepressants, anticonvulsants, or specific surgical interventions are involved in neuropathic pain treatment, to improve symptoms in some cases of nerve damage.

How Medical Marijuana Works To Relieve Pain


The human body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS) regulates various physiological functions including mood, immune response, and pain sensation. ECS comprises cannabinoid receptors (CB1 and CB2), naturally occurring cannabinoids and enzymes. Enzymes are responsible for producing and breaking down these endocannabinoids.

Cannabis cannabinoids have shown promising effects in primary experimental studies on pain. Pain-sensing nerves contain many cannabinoid receptors, which can block peripheral nerve pain. This is how medical marijuana works in the body to alter pain perception:

1. Cannabinoid Receptors and Pain Modulation


  • CB1 Receptors are located in the central nervous system, which includes the brain and spinal cord. THC may modulate pain signals by binding to CB1 receptors, decrease pain intensity, and change how one perceives pain.
  • CB2 Receptors are located in the peripheral nervous system and immune cells. They reduce inflammation, which frequently causes discomfort. CBD’s association with CB2 receptors can reduce inflammatory pain.

2. Endocannabinoid System Activation


Medical marijuana has the potential to strengthen the endocannabinoid system by imitating endocannabinoids. It leads to the activation of CB1 and CB2 receptors. This activation may provide relief from pain and inflammation.

3. Neurotransmitter Modulation


THC and CBD, present in marijuana, can release serotonin and dopamine, which regulate mood and pain perception. It contributes to the analgesic effects of medical marijuana.

Medical Marijuana For Pain & Related Conditions


Medical marijuana helps in managing different chronic pain, inflammatory, and other medical conditions that cause pain.


1. Chronic Pain


Medical marijuana offers a substitution for severe conditions like fibromyalgia, neuropathy, and musculoskeletal pain when other traditional pain medications and treatments are not effective in pain management.

2. Arthritis


Rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis are conditions of significant pain and inflammation in the joints. In these conditions, patients can use topical cannabis products that can be useful in reducing joint pain and inflammation. You can easily get different types of cannabis products with the help of a medical card from a nearby medical marijuana dispensary 

3. Multiple Sclerosis (MS)


Multiple sclerosis (MS) patients frequently suffer from muscle spasms and neuropathic pain. Luckily medical marijuana, especially strains that are rich in CBD (cannabidiol) can be effective in relieving these symptoms. MS patients can get relief from muscle spasms and neuropathic pain by using medical marijuana. Medical marijuana leads to an overall improvement in patients’ well-being and daily functioning of life.

4. Cancer-Related Pain


Cancer patients suffer from severe pain during treatments such as chemotherapy. Medical marijuana may be helpful in cancer-related pain management. It also helps reduce side effects like nausea and loss of hunger.

5. Migraines


It has been shown in research that cannabis is very effective in reducing the frequency and intensity of migraine attacks. Inhaled forms can lead to fast relief during acute episodes of headache or migraines.

What Does the Research Say?


Medical cannabis is often used in chronic pain treatment. Many scientific studies, including randomized controlled trials, state that cannabis can help relieve pain in adults with different chronic pain types. 

A survey of more than 900 chronic pain patients found that 75% of patients got relief from pain by using cannabis. In another study, cannabis was found to reduce opioid use by over 60% for chronic pain. Further research is being conducted on whether cannabis is safer than opioids or not.  Researchers have called cannabis the “Restored Self” as it allows patients to regain their self-confidence and control over their lives, which chronic pain can take away.


A 2015 research on the use of cannabis and cannabinoids for chronic pain observed positive results for treating various chronic pain conditions, including neuropathy. Another research conducted in 2016 found that cannabis use for cancer pain reduces opioid use (64%), and improves quality of life (45%), with fewer medication side effects. 

Methods Of Marijuana Consumption For Pain


Medical marijuana can be used in different forms such as smoking, vaporizing, eating, and topical application. There is a difference in how each form works and how it reduces pain. For example, smoking or vaporizing reduces pain faster, while edibles or topicals may have longer-lasting effects. It’s essential to consult a healthcare professional to choose the best form and dosage for your needs.

1. Inhalation


  • Smoking provides relief faster as THC and CBD enter the bloodstream through the lungs in the body. You may feel its effects within minutes, but they do not last very long.


  • Vaporization: it is the same as smoking but less harmful to the lungs. Vaporizers heat cannabis to release cannabinoids and other beneficial compounds without burning the plant material. Vaporization is a safer alternative to smoking because it reduces the inhalation of harmful toxins and carcinogens that are produced when cannabis is combusted.

2. Oral Consumption


  • Edibles: Marijuana products are also available in edible form. They can be found as cannabis-infused gummies, cookies, brownies, or other products. Edible offer longer-lasting effects for pain relief but takes a bit longer to kick in (between 30 minutes to 2 hours) due to digestive process.


  • Tinctures and Oils: These are the most common and classic forms of cannabis consumption, available in liquid extracts used under the tongue. They provide faster relief than edibles, usually within 15 to 45 minutes.

3. Topical Solutions


  •  Creams and Lotions: You can apply them directly to the skin. Topical creams and lotions help with pain management without inducing psychoactive effects. They are suitable for conditions such as arthritis and muscle pain.


  • Transdermal Patches: These topical patches send cannabinoids directly into the bloodstream through the skin. They offer prolonged and consistent pain relief.

Where Can You Get Medical Marijuana?


The legal status and law of medical marijuana varies from state to state. In some regions, it is completely legal and controlled, but in others, it is prohibited to sell and purchase marijuana. Patients should be aware of local rules and regulations before getting medical cannabis as a treatment option in pain management. 


If you want to get medical marijuana in Louisiana, it is important to get your medical marijuana state card. Having a medical card ensures that you will always have easy access to medical marijuana, even in larger quantities.


Get your medical card today at Green Leaf Medical Center through a hassle-free process and prevent long waiting periods to get your next medical marijuana dose. You can also get a personalized and effective medical treatment plan according to your qualifying medical condition or injury to improve your health and prevent further health problems.  


Our online application process is simple and ensures fast approval. Contact us today for more information to fulfill the need for your medical marijuana card in Louisiana.


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