Long-time lurker with chronic lumbar pain from DDD. I thought I would share my experience with medical marijuana, and where it can fit into a regimen designed primarily for chronic pain relief and delaying surgery. Not intended as medical advice, rather one person's experience with an under-utilized treatment.
TL;DR : High cannabidiol (CBD) medical marijuana is the best pain-reliever I have experienced thus far for chronic, non-acute pain. Background
37yo, relatively fit male. Lived with back pain for 10 years. On a pain scale, if 0 were no pain and 10 were horrendous, bladder-emptying pain, then I would be a 4 on good days. During particularly bad episodes which occur 1-2 per year, it is closer to 8-9 and I am unable to work in the office for a few weeks.
Previous and current treatments include:
- Prescribed NSAIDS (For me, ineffective and no better than heavy dose of Aleve)
- Physical Therapy (Did nothing)
- 40 min daily stretching routine (It helps moderately)
- Walking 2 miles every day (Very effective)
- Methylprednisolone Dose Pack (Helps with mild herniations)
- Epidural Injection (Helps heal severe herniations but otherwise no pain relief)
Until I tried medical marijuana, the best post-work pain relief was 2 glasses of wine + alternating ice/heat packs. In terms of dealing with chronic pain, that is what approximately $10,000 in doctors' visits had bought me. Naturally, this would not work as a longterm solution because of any interaction with NSAIDs, as well as it being dependency-forming.
Fortunately, I live in a state where medical marijuana is legal, so I sought out a doctor who approves most cases.Effects:
I researched medical marijuana like any other pain-relief treatment and bought several strains from a dispensary.
The plants with a high THC predictably have a psychoactive effect. But I found the pain relief to be inconsistent. For example, if I were in a rested position when I dosed, then my body felt extremely relaxed. On the other hand, if I were standing up or walking, it tended to make nerve pain in my legs much worse. Naturally, the psychoactive effects made high THC plants a non-starter for someone who is employed or not home-bound.
On the other hand, the plants that were high in CBD were extremely effective with chronic pain relief. It was almost as if I felt pain drain from my body. There was a mild psychoactive effect, comparable to having a single beer or wine. Basically you are still fine to carry on with your daily life, albeit relaxed and possibly drowsier. The plant breed I found to be most effective was Sour Tsunami.
For acute pain (like a herniation or severe sciatica), it provides mental relief for the pain but is ineffective for actually treating it.
Additionally, I found a pocket-size vaporizer to be the most convenient way to dose. There is no combustion involved, so no smoke, which makes it healthier. Additionally, it is discrete so you can use it while going for a walk.
Getting the dosing down takes a few attempts. Summary:
High CBD medical marijuana is a low-risk treatment that can serve as a staple of post-work pain relief. Depending on nature of one's job, it could be done at a lunch break as well. It should probably treated as one would OTC cold medications: 'Don't operate heavy machinery, etc.'
Everyone is different. It may help some but not others. But IMHO, it is definitely worth researching as a treatment option. Welcome to Spine-Health
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