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Can Medical Cannabis Reduce the Symptoms of Fibromyalgia?

By September 10, 2019 September 28th, 2019 No Comments

Fibromyalgia, also known as Fibromyalgia Syndrome (FMS), is one of the most common chronic pain disorders in the world today. National Fibromyalgia Association (NFA) reports that this condition affects around 3 to 6 percent of the world population and 10 million people in the United States alone. (1)

Symptoms and Treatment

Living with fibromyalgia can be extremely painful, with symptoms including:

  • Widespread pain
  • Fatigue
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Increased sensitivity to pain
  • Muscle stiffness
  • Problems with mental processes
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • Poor sleep quality

There is, unfortunately, no cure for fibromyalgia yet. But people suffering from this chronic illness can use a combination of pain relief medication, muscle relaxants, sleep aids and anti-depressants and to alleviate some of the symptoms and make the condition a little easier to live with. However, these prescribed medicines do not always work and may even come with a whole slew of adverse side effects.

Is Medical Marijuana the Answer?

Because of the limitations of prescribed medicines, many fibromyalgia patients are trying out alternative pain management methods, like medical marijuana. But is medical marijuana even an effective treatment for fibromyalgia?

More commonly known as a recreational drug, marijuana has actually been used for its medicinal properties for thousands of years. There is enough anecdotal evidence that suggests that active ingredients in medical marijuana – Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) – can help with the symptoms of chronic pain, like the one that occurs with fibromyalgia. One such anecdote is of Carly Barton, campaign lead at Carly’s Amnesty and deputy director at United Patients Alliance Ltd. Following a stroke in her early twenties, Carly developed severe fibromyalgia, which left her in constant crippling pain. However, after shunning strong opiate pain relief prescribed by her doctor for medical marijuana, she reported an instant decrease in her discomfort and pain. (2)

Even clinical studies agree that medical marijuana show potential for the treatment of fibromyalgia. A study on marijuana use in patients with fibromyalgia and its effect on symptoms relief and health-related quality of life published in 2011 reported that patients showed improvement in pain relief, stiffness, relaxation, and perception of well-being after consuming medical marijuana. (3) Another study on the chronic pain patients’ perspectives of medical marijuana published in 2018 indicated similar results – i.e., people suffering from chronic pain conditions, such as fibromyalgia, show improvement in their pain levels and sleep quality after consuming medical marijuana. (4)

The last word

Despite the fact that research on the health benefits of medical marijuana is still in its preliminary stages, the effects of medical marijuana in managing chronic pain associated with fibromyalgia are well-documented. That being said, if you are thinking about using medical marijuana to treat fibromyalgia, you may need to find out more about marijuana laws in your area and consult your doctor ahead of time.

Sources

  1. http://www.fmaware.org/about-fibromyalgia/prevalence/
  2. https://www.theguardian.com/society/2019/apr/25/i-shouldnt-have-to-look-over-my-shoulder-carly-bartons-fight-for-medicinal-cannabis  
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3080871/#s4title
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5845915/

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