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Medical Marijuana and Fibromyalgia

What Is Fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia is a common condition characterized by long-term, body-wide pain and tender points in joints, muscles, tendons, and other soft tissues. Fibromyalgia has also been linked to fatigue, morning stiffness, sleep problems, headaches, numbness in hands and feet, depression, and anxiety.

Causes of Fibromyalgia

The specific cause of fibromyalgia is unclear, but most experts believe that a wide range of factors help contribute to the condition. For example, people may be genetically predisposed to developing fibromyalgia, and could be at a higher risk if a family member has it. There are also some illnesses and infections that can either trigger the condition or aggravate it. Certain types of emotional or physical trauma can contribute to fibromyalgia, and it has also been linked to post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD.

Many experts believe that the brains of people with fibromyalgia can change due to repeated stimulation of the nerves. One change, for example, is an abnormal increase in the activity level of neurotransmitters, which are the chemicals in the brain that transport pain signals. Pain receptors in the brain may develop a type of “memory” as a result, overreacting to those pain signals.

Certain factors can also increase a person’s risk for developing fibromyalgia. The condition, for instance, is diagnosed in women more often than in men. Also, if you have lupus, rheumatoid arthritis or another type of rheumatic disease, you could be at a higher risk.

Treatments for Fibromyalgia

Doctors typically recommend several medications to treat fibromyalgia, including pain relievers and antidepressants. The medications come with side effects, and there is no one single drug that addresses all of the conditions associated with the condition:

  • Pain relievers – In most instances, doctors will first recommend that patients try over-the-counter pain relievers such as Tylenol, Advil, Aleve and others. If these don’t work, the next step would be a stronger pain medicine such as tramadol. Tramadol helps to inhibit the action of neurotransmitters and are designed to reduce discomfort, but it is in the class of drugs known as opioids. The medication is not considered as much of an addiction risk as other opioids such as codeine or morphine, but it can still result in serious side effects including nausea, vomiting, dizziness and potentially severe allergic reactions that can lead to swelling of the mouth and face.
  • Antidepressants – Doctors sometimes prescribe an antidepressant such as Cymbalta in order to help patients sleep. Use of Cymbalta can lead to severe side effects such as panic attacks, hostility, hyperactivity or even suicidal thoughts. Patients sometimes report very stiff muscles, high fever, confusion, unusual bleeding and difficult urinating.
  • Anti-seizure drugs — In rare instances, a doctor prescribes an anti-seizure drug such as Lyrica to help reduce pain and other discomfort associated with fibromyalgia. Lyrica side effects can include heart and kidney disease, blood disorders, vision problems and swelling of the throat, lips and tongue. The drug has also been linked to swelling in the legs. In extreme instances, the drug can cause a potentially severe allergic reaction. People who have diabetes and take Lyrica need to carefully check their skin on a regular basis and call their doctor if they notice any redness or sores.

Medical Marijuana and Fibromyalgia

An estimated 12 million Americans suffer from fibromyalgia, which is a chronic pain syndrome that is difficult to treat and impossible to cure. Since there is no cure, effective pain management strategies are essential for helping patients cope with the disease. Medical marijuana is very effective in reliving pain, and it is a natural alternative to the traditional pain medications often prescribed to fibromyalgia patients.

Research shows that using medical marijuana is an effective way to relieve the pain and anxiety associated with the disease. In 1999, the Institute of Medicine found in their report titled Marijuana and Medicine that the cannabinoids found in marijuana can relieve a variety of symptoms, including chronic pain. Additionally, The Journal of Pain reports that patients with fibromyalgia who were treated with a synthetic form of marijuana showed significant reductions in pain and anxiety.

Medical marijuana has helped thousands of fibromyalgia patients and it is an affordable, effective and natural alternative to traditional pain medication. If you or someone you love is suffering from fibromyalgia and would like to find out if medical marijuana is the right treatment, can help. We can connect you with hundreds of quality marijuana doctors across the country in all legal marijuana states and ensure you are in compliance with your state laws. Book an appointment today and let us help improve your quality of life!


This information is not provided by medical professionals and is intended only to complement, and not to replace or contradict, any health or medical advice or information provided by healthcare professionals.  If you have any questions, please contact your doctor or other healthcare professional.



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