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Medical Marijuana and Spinal Stenosis

What Is Spinal Stenosis?

Medical marijuana is a treatment for a number of different conditions and symptoms, many of them nerve-related. Spinal stenosis is a spinal disease that typically occurs due to degeneration of the spinal disks. It can also take place due to injury, tumors and other diseases. The symptoms of this disease are often nerve-related. Medical marijuana can help with some of these, thus making a sufferer more comfortable. However, it cannot cure the disease, as it cannot repair the spine.

 Spinal stenosis is narrowing in one of two key positions of the spine. It can occur in the spinal column, which causes pressure on the spinal cord. It can also occur in the spaces where the nerves of the spine go out from the spinal column. This can cause pressure on the nerves wherever it occurs on the spine. There are three types of spinal stenosis. Cervical spinal stenosis happens around the neck. Thoracic spinal stenosis is found in the middle of the back. Lumbar spinal stenosis takes place in the lower back.

The symptoms of spinal stenosis will likely affect one side of a sufferer's body. He or she might feel pain and/or numbness in the legs, arms, neck and shoulders. There may also be weakness in these limbs. Difficulty maintaining balance and difficulty controlling waste expulsion are also potential symptoms of spinal stenosis. These symptoms are associated with the nerve pressure or damage caused by spinal narrowing. It can gradually get worse over time.

Medical Marijuana and Spinal Stenosis

Treatment of Spinal Stenosis with Medical Marijuana 

The current treatments for spinal stenosis are generally pain management and surgery. Pain management can include counseling, physical therapy and/or pain medications. Medical marijuana cannot replace counseling, physical therapy or surgery if it is indicated in a person with spinal stenosis. However, it can replace, complement and/or act as a pain medication for individuals with chronic pain from spinal stenosis. Research also indicates that it may help relieve addiction to opiates in individuals who have been prescribed addictive medications for a long period due to chronic pain. 

Medical Marijuana and Chronic Pain Research 

Medical marijuana is showing to be a great option for chronic pain in some sufferers. Like all pain medications, its efficacy will depend on the tolerance of the individual and the appearance of negative side effects. Nonetheless, it is working well for most individuals in clinical and pre-clinical trials. It is proving to be a reliever of nerve pain, which is precisely what spinal stenosis sufferers need.

A study at the University of California, San Francisco showed that medical marijuana is a viable medication for use with opiates in chronic pain. When used with opiates, it decreases the amount of addictive and potentially dangerous opiates a patient needs to ingest. Marijuana has never been shown to produce life-threatening overdose symptoms, so it is a much safer alternative to large doses of opiate medication as a patient builds up a tolerance for the drugs.

In the UCSF study, patients given medical marijuana along with a lower dose of their opiates did not lose their pain relief. In fact, they obtained more pain relief from the combination than they were getting from their opiate regimens. Because opiate use can result in death if not carefully monitored and taken responsibly, the lessening of opiate dosages by combining them with marijuana could potentially save lives. Patients get more pain relief and less risk of death. Medical marijuana can also help with pain after surgical treatment of spinal stenosis.

Medical Marijuana Research into Treatment of Nerve-Related Conditions

Studies conducted in the past twenty years have shown without a doubt that medical marijuana can alleviate stiffness in the muscles caused by multiple sclerosis, symptoms of peripheral neuropathy, symptoms of compression neuropathy, symptoms of sensory neuropathy in AIDS patients and more. These symptoms include pain, tingling, burning and weakness. Spinal stenosis causes neuropathy, so these studies into conditions like multiple sclerosis and AIDS show that medical marijuana can help patients with spinal stensosis as well as patients with a range of other nerve-related conditions.

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