Updated on January 30, 2019. Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer
When you have spinocerebellar ataxia, or SCA, the part of the brain responsible for muscle movement — the cerebellum — deteriorates. As the cerebellum degenerates, your body has a harder time coordinating actions involving your muscles. This results in tremors, spasms and muscle tightness. All three of these symptoms can cause pain, and it becomes chronic when your symptoms become frequent.
SCA already has debilitating properties that make functioning difficult for patients in later stages of the disease. Many patients have to go through physical or occupational therapy to enhance their independence. Pain gets in the way of recovery and daily living activities, so it’s important to find an effective treatment for SCA-related pain.
Common pain treatments often don’t work well enough or have dangerous risks. Using over-the-counter painkillers for a long time can damage organs like your kidneys and liver. Plus, patients with severe pain may not find them sufficient. And if they upgrade to stronger painkillers like opioids and narcotics, they risk becoming addicted, sometimes to the point of causing an overdose.
So, many patients turn to cannabis medicine to relieve pain effectively and safely. The marijuana plant comes in different varieties called strains, and certain strains are better at reducing pain than others. Find out what strains work best for SCA-related pain and why.
Chronic pain associated with SCA can come from a few sources. Since every SCA case is unique, each patient has different symptoms, some of which directly or indirectly cause pain. SCA-related pain can be caused by:
Because SCA can cause pain in several ways, you must treat it with an approach that has multiple angles. Fortunately, medical marijuana strains let you do just that.
The following strains help relieve both the pain due to injury and the soreness caused by muscle spasms:
When pain comes from the tightness of your muscles and not as an indirect result of spasms or injury, you want to focus on relaxing your muscles. You can do that with strains like:
Thinking of medicinal cannabis as just one medicine isn’t doing it justice — instead, you should think of it as an entire medicine cabinet. You can use different strains throughout the day to enhance effectiveness and minimize side effects. Or, you can take it on an as-needed basis if your SCA symptoms come and go. Patients with multiple symptoms can focus on using strains that cover all their health problems.
Interested in trying marijuana medicine to reduce your pain? There are countless medical professionals out there willing to help you get started. Booking an appointment with a cannabis-positive doctor lets you get an evaluation and written recommendation, and visiting a dispensary gives you access to safe, legal medicine under the guidance of trained staff. Search our database today to find locations near you.