Updated on August 29, 2018. Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer
When you use medical marijuana to treat your chronic muscle spasms, you’ll probably turn to topical treatments. After all, you might already use non-cannabis lotions and creams to soothe your muscles. Even if you don’t, it’s a logical step to use something you apply right to the source.
But, marijuana topical solutions are a little more complicated than you’d think. Like standard topical treatments, each kind transports medicine to your muscles in a different fashion. If you recently started experiencing your muscle spasms or haven’t used marijuana medicine before, you have more information to learn than you may have expected — but we can help.
Once you understand the difference among the most popular cannabis topicals, you can make an informed decision about your muscle spasm treatment.
Topical treatments that you rub directly on the skin such as lotions and creams are the most popular of their kind. They have a simple method of use — apply to the area where you feel pain or spasms. Plus, dispensaries tend to have them more often than niche topicals like bath soaks and lip balm.
Lotions, balms and creams containing cannabis medicine treat a localized area. More specifically, they numb and relax the area where you apply them. Additionally, they affect how the white blood cells in the area of application react by interacting with your endocannabinoid system.
This kind of topical treatment is suitable for folks who experience muscle spasms in a localized area of the body. Creams, lotions and balms kick in fairly quickly, and you can control exactly where they medicate.
Bath soaks are one of the less common types of medical marijuana treatments. They resemble regular bath soaks, but contain a dose of cannabinoids. Add the recommended amount to a hot bath and soak for the time specified on the package.
As opposed to lotions and creams, which treat a small area, bath soaks affect all the muscles in your body. Also, you get the benefits of the hot bath and bath salts. We all know about the power of a warm bath to relax your muscles, and mineral salts are known for their ability to enhance that effect.
To get the most out of your marijuana bath, give the parts of your body most affected by muscle spasms a massage. Rubbing in the medicine allows it to enter your bloodstream instead of only sitting on top of your skin.
Patients who experience mild to moderate muscle spasms all over their body could benefit from using marijuana bath salts. They both relax your muscles and ease pain from muscle spasms. However, some patients with mobility issues will not be able to take advantage of the benefits of marijuana bath soaks.
Marijuana patches behave similarly to regular medicinal patches. Since they’re a manufactured medicine, they contain a specified number of cannabinoids in them. For instance, some patches have 100% THC or CBD, and some have a mix of the two chemicals.
Patches administer medicine directly into your bloodstream. While they take an extended amount of time to build up in your system, they avoid the issue of being absorbed into other parts of your body. So, you take in the entire dose without having to guess how much you will absorb.
To use a patch, apply it to a clean part of your body with multiple veins, like your wrist. Take care not to get it too dirty or wet.
If you need full-body relief and don’t mind waiting for a longer-lasting, intense effect, a patch might work for you. They have the bonus of entering your system, which means they can relieve symptoms an underlying condition causing muscle spasms. Patients with mobility issues who can’t take other forms of marijuana medication can have someone apply the patch for them and get a “set it and forget it” treatment.