marijuana and causalgia
Causalgia used to be the name for complex regional pain syndrome type II, or CRPS II. This rare, painful and, at times, progressive condition affects you physically, mentally and emotionally. It’s characterized by burning pain, usually located in just one limb.

Medical cannabis can work to alleviate the symptoms of this painful condition. How? In this article, we’ll take a look at the relationship between cannabis and causalgia. We’ll also see what causes causalgia and its symptoms.


Causalgia is a rare and painful syndrome that relates to partial peripheral nerve injuries. Your peripheral nervous system is made up of nerves that stem from your spinal cord and brain’s central nervous system (CNS). These relate to your organs and limbs.

what is causalgia

This chronic condition tends to affect only one limb — most commonly your foot, leg, hand or arm — and it’s usually brought on by sustaining an injury. Causalgia is believed to be caused by either malfunction of or damage to your central and peripheral nervous systems.

Causalgia is divided into two different types: CPRS-I and CRPS-II. If you don’t have a confirmed nerve injury, your condition is classified as the first type. In cases where you have a confirmed and associated nerve injury, you have type II, or causalgia.

Causalgia symptoms often vary in duration and severity. Some cases are mild and eventually disappear. In others, sufferers may not recover and are long-term disabled. Causalgia is most common in women, and children are rarely affected.

What Is Causalgia?

Although the initial cause of the condition is not known, it can often arise as a result of an overactive sympathetic nervous system. Upper extremities, in particular, one’s hands, are most commonly affected. Initial traumatic or painful events to the limbs or immobilization for long periods of time can also be causes for the condition.

The reason why one person may have it and not another is unclear. Common triggers are:

  • Minor medical procedures like needle stick injuries
  • Surgery
  • Fractures
  • Strains
  • Sprains
  • Limb immobilization (for example, a limb being in a cast)
  • Soft tissue injuries like bruises, burns and cuts

Causalgia is an abnormal response that magnifies the effects of an injury. The slightest stimuli can aggravate the condition or cause it to flare. The condition develops relatively soon after an injury, and patients explain the pain as intense.

The condition also affects your immune system. Elevated levels of cytokines (inflammatory chemicals) have been discovered in the tissues of individuals with the syndrome. These contribute to the warmth, redness and swelling reported by people suffering from causalgia. Interestingly, causalgia is more commonly found in people with already existing autoimmune and inflammatory conditions.

History of Causalgia

As reported by the Indian Journal of Plastic Surgery, causalgia was first documented by Ambroise Pare in the 16th-century as King Charles IX suffered from the condition. Later, in 1864, the father of American neurology, Silas Weir Mitchell, recorded the first detailed description. Mitchell discovered that there was an exaggerated presence of pain in injured American civil war veterans.

Mitchell came up with the term causalgia. It derives from the Greek for fire (kausis) and pain (algos).

Symptoms of Causalgia

If you feel you may have causalgia and want to know more about the symptoms to look out for, the following may help. Signs and symptoms include:

  • Swelling of the painful area
  • Constant throbbing or burning pain in the affected area
  • Sensitivity to touch
  • Sensitivity to cold
  • Changes in your skin temperature — feeling either hot and clammy or cold
  • Changes in nail and hair growth
  • Joint damage, swelling and stiffness
  • Changes in skin color, from blue or red to white and mottled
  • Decreased ability to move the affected body part
  • Muscle spasms, weakness and loss (atrophy)

Symptoms vary from person to person and change over time. Initially, you can usually expect:

  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Noticeable shifts in the temperature of the affected area
  • Hypersensitivity to cold and touch

Over time, the affected limb often becomes cold and pale. You will also notice spasms, muscle tightening, skin and nail changes. When it gets to this stage, causalgia may be irreversible.

The symptoms often disappear on their own. For some, though, they last for months and even years. Causalgia can be worsened by emotional stress and sometimes spreads to other limbs. You may develop emotional issues from having to deal with the intense suffering that is so characteristic of severe causalgia.

It’s crucial to seek medical treatment as soon as you can if you think you are affected. Treatment is most effective when the syndrome is caught early.

Effects of Causalgia

Being in pain every day can dampen your mood. Long-lasting pain and discomfort causes you to withdraw from your usual daily activities and can lead to depression. Even carrying out mundane tasks, like washing the dishes or cooking a meal, can seem like an insurmountable task. Painkillers often don’t give you the relief you hope for, either, and if they do, there are side effects and the potential for addiction to consider.

Pain saps your spirit and drains your motivation, and it can make you feel like you’re alone. People around you cannot fully understand what you’re going through. They might eventually get tired of inviting you places as you never have the energy to accept the invitations. If you recognize yourself in these words, there is hope. Marijuana and causalgia can be a great match because medical pot is a natural way of alleviating causalgia symptoms.

Causalgia Statistics

If you’re wondering about the hard facts and statistics relating to causalgia, take note of these:

  • The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke reports that causalgia occurs in people of all ages. The peak age is 40.
  • More than 90 percent of causalgia cases are triggered by injury or trauma.
  • Virtual Medical Centre states that between 18 and 25 percent of people with causalgia find long-term relief after having nerve-blocking local anesthetic injections.
  • Up to 90 percent of patients who undergo surgical sympathectomy where their sympathetic nerves are cut to the area that’s painful, find that their pain is relieved.

traumatic injury

Current Treatments Available for Causalgia and Their Side Effects

Treatment options that currently exist for this condition are biofeedback, acupuncture, forms of physical therapy, mirror box therapy, transcutaneous nerve stimulation, anti-anxiety medications and sympathetic nerve block.

cannabidiol treatment

Cannabidiol treatment is particularly useful for treating causalgia because it can function to significantly reduce associated stresses, depression and anxieties that come with the condition. Additionally, it can work to assist patients in treating their chronic pain and reducing their inflammation.

There is no known cure for causalgia. Because of this, treatment goals are to relieve your painful symptoms.

Nonsurgical Treatments

There are various nonsurgical treatments available to relieve your pain. These include:

  • Physical therapy
  • Psychotherapy
  • Narcotics
  • Topical painkillers
  • Antidepressants
  • Anti-seizure drugs
  • Osteoporosis medications
  • Corticosteroids

Many people, however, are concerned about the harmful side effects of the various medications available. Some worry about dependency and addiction to painkillers. There are also risks, such as heart and organ damage, to consider.

Surgical Treatments

If you’ve been down the nonsurgical route and have had little or no relief from your symptoms, the following surgical treatments may help:

  • Sympathetic nerve blocks. These can be carried out in various ways. One type involves anesthetizing an area close to your spine to block the nerves directly.
  • Surgical sympathectomy. A surgical sympathectomy is a controversial technique that destroys the nerves involved in causalgia. Some doctors feel that it makes the condition improve whereas others feel that it worsens the situation. Because of this, you should only ever consider this treatment route if your pain is temporarily and dramatically made better by sympathetic nerve blocks.
  • Spinal cord stimulation. Electrodes are placed near the spinal cord to bring relief.
  • Intrathecal drug pumps. Implanted catheters and pumps send painkilling drugs into your spinal fluid.

None of the above treatments come with a guarantee that they’ll give you complete relief from your symptoms. Perhaps this is why more people are turning to the medical pot world for answers to their causalgia pain relief questions.

How and Why Marijuana Is an Effective Treatment for Causalgia

A 2013 paper published by The American Pain Society stated that vaporized cannabis enabled causalgia sufferers to function more normally as well as enjoy a marked decrease in pain. In fact, causalgia is a qualifying condition for medical marijuana in both Illinois and Connecticut.

Medical cannabis for causalgia can help you return to your usual daily routine and social functioning. Find out more by talking to an experienced budtender or medical pot doctor today.

What Symptoms of Causalgia Can Marijuana Treat?

Medical pot is known to be a helpful treatment for causalgia, and it doesn’t produce any negative psychoactive side effects. Strains that are high in CBD can be used for relaxing muscle spasms, reducing stiffness and inflammation of your joints and for treating intense nerve pain. Cannabis is also useful for treating insomnia and anxiety.

Let’s take a look at some of the best strains of pot to use to alleviate your causalgia symptoms.

Best Strains of Marijuana to Use for Causalgia

We’ve put together a quick starter’s guide to illustrate the benefits of medical marijuana for causalgia symptoms:

1. Pain and Inflammation

Chronic pain is arguably the most debilitating causalgia symptom you need to manage. No one likely wants to take painkillers for any protracted period. With this in mind, medical marijuana is a natural and gentle method of treatment. Some beneficial strains for minimizing pain and inflammation are:

  • Harlequin. Harlequin is a sativa-dominant hybrid. It gives you a mellow and painless high. The harlequin strain is particularly good for fighting general pain and inflammation.
  • Jack Herer. Jack Herer is a great all-rounder. It’s packed with natural painkillers, helping to reduce tissue inflammation. This sativa strain is well-known for being uplifting and energizing.

2. Insomnia

When you don’t get adequate sleep, you feel tired, irritable and unable to cope with day-to-day living. Getting a good night’s rest is particularly crucial when you’re suffering from a chronic illness like causalgia. You need to be as kind to yourself as possible to give your body the best chance of healing. These two heavy indica strains are perfect for you if you lay awake tossing and turning each night:

heavy indica strains

  • Bubba Kush. Bubba Kush relaxes you and effectively minimizes pain. As it’s a heavy sedative, it’s best to take this 90 percent indica strain before bed.
  • Northern Lights. Northern Lights is a good choice if you can’t sleep due to depression, pain, anxiety or your pain medications. You’ll get off to sleep within an hour of taking this indica-heavy hybrid.

3. Mood

Depression brings you down even further when you’re battling chronic illness. Cannabis is the natural alternative if you don’t want to take a cocktail of drugs to treat your symptoms. Helpful strains for elevating your mood include:

  • Pennywise. Pennywise is an indica hybrid that is great to take during the day. The strain produces a calming effect and won’t give you a psychoactive high.
  • Blue Dream. Blue Dream is another hybrid strain that’s safe for use during the day. It gives you feelings of relaxation, happiness and joy and is both smooth and enjoyable. The strain works well in terms of sparking creativity, so it is often used for working through mental blocks.

4. Muscle Spasms

Muscle spasms can be infuriating and uncomfortable. They’re also embarrassing and tend to make you feel self- conscious. These two strains are powerful treatments for this symptom:

  • Ewok. Ewok is a 60 percent indica strain and is best taken in the afternoon or evening. It gives you a relaxed sensation and has an earthy, pungent aroma. It relieves muscle spasms and is also a sleep aid.
  • Grape Ape. Grape Ape is an indica strain that provides you with a happy high. Medical users report that it treats pain, insomnia, stress and muscle spasms.

Medical marijuana treats a whole host of symptoms. Many strains work on various levels and address many different issues. This is by no means an exhaustive list of potential treatments, but it should be enough to get you started. Furthermore, it provides you with an idea of just how powerful pot can be when it’s used for the right reasons.

Methods of Marijuana Treatment

Now that you know about some of the best strains of medical marijuana for relieving your symptoms, you need to know how to take it. Pot can be taken in various ways, including:

  • Smoking. You can smoke cannabis to get instant relief. The downside is that you could damage your lungs and smell of pot, too. Also, smoking pot tends to have a stigma attached to it.
  • Vaping. Vaping is another route that gives you almost instantaneous results. It’s not as harmful to your lungs as smoking. However, vaping units need to be recharged and can be expensive.
  • Edibles. You can purchase or make edibles, such as brownies and cupcakes. Marijuana edibles are discreet to eat, and you can carry them with you.
  • Tinctures. You can put these alcohol-based extracts into your drinks and food. These do tend to be expensive, though.
  • Sprays. Cannabis sprays are easy to carry along with you and come in a range of pleasant flavors.

Considering all these many routes of ingestion of medical cannabis for causalgia, there’s sure to be a method that suits your needs. Taking medical pot doesn’t need to mean smoking joints. There are so many less obvious ways of taking your medication whenever you need to.

So, now you know more about medical marijuana for causalgia and how it can benefit you, it’s time to take that next step now and search for a medical marijuana doctor or dispensary today. Get back into the driver’s seat of your health and your life.

Additional CRPS/Causalgia/RSD & Cannabis Resources

Looking for more information about CRPS I, CRPS II, Causalgia, or Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy? Check out our additional resources below:

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