Updated on December 18, 2018.
Medical content reviewed by Dr. Richard Koffler, MD, Board Certified Physiatrist
Intractable skeletal muscular spasticity is a difficult condition to deal with. Even if it starts out with mild symptoms, many cases have underlying conditions that get progressively worse over time. Constant muscle spasms and pain greatly inhibit the patient’s ability to live an independent life.
We don’t have a cure for this type of spasticity or its more common causes, multiple sclerosis and cerebral palsy. So, all we can do for the time being is help patients manage their symptoms. We generally aim to improve mobility and independence.
With drug regulations in the U.S. slowly making room for marijuana as a medicine, more patients have tried it out for their health conditions. Muscle spasms and pain, both common symptoms of muscular spasticity, are two of the most commonly approved conditions under state medical marijuana laws.
Since muscle spasms happen in tissue that topical treatments can reach, some patients use cannabis-infused topicals to manage their muscular spasticity issues. In addition to addressing the physical source, it works to resolve other spasticity symptoms to make mobility easier.
Types of Marijuana Topicals
Topical treatments containing marijuana aren’t just limited to creams. The variety of topicals available to you depends on the stock at local dispensaries and what types of marijuana products your state considers legal. Make sure to research your state laws before deciding on the right treatment method for you.
Topical cannabis products include:
- Lotions, Balms and Creams: Using a topical that you rub in your skin is a simple and easy way to pinpoint the exact area you want to treat. Apply it to the area affected by your spasticity to experience fast and localized relief.
- Marijuana Oils: You can also rub certain cannabis oils into your skin for a similar effect to lotions and creams. Pay close attention to the label — you don’t want to use an oil meant for vaping or dabbing.
- Patches: Cannabis patches function like other medical patches do. They often come in special chemical ratios so you can focus on one type of cannabinoid or use a balanced formula.
- Novelties: Some states, especially ones that allow recreational marijuana use, allow the sale of uncommon topicals. You could find lip balm, lubricant and suppositories infused with cannabinoids. Since these topicals have such specific purposes, you may want to stick to the more conventional products.
How to Use Cannabis Topicals to Treat Your Symptoms
Depending on the symptoms you’re experiencing, there are different ways topicals can help you. Some common symptoms you might be dealing with are:
- Muscle Spasms: The type of topical to use for your muscle spasms depends on the predictability and location of them. If you need to treat them on an as-needed basis, you should opt for a rub-on topical like lotion for more immediate relief. On the other hand, you could benefit from a slower treatment like a patch that builds up in your system to provide extended relief. Marijuana serves as a muscle relaxant without the harsh side effects. So, when you use it, it eases the tension and stiffness in your muscles, reducing the severity of the spasm.
- Pain: Pain relief is one of medical marijuana’s most famous uses. If you use a topical that you rub into your skin, it can quickly numb the pain in the area you apply it to. Using a patch helps ward off chronic pain felt by patients with frequent spasms.
- Inflammation: Marijuana can also relieve inflammation resulting from frequent and severe muscle spasms. It interacts with receptors in your immune system to suppress the inflammation it produces. Reducing inflammation also reduces the pain and tension in your muscles. Like with other symptoms, the kind of topical to use depends on the inflammation’s location and frequency. If you find that you constantly have inflammation, you may want to use a patch, but rub-on treatments suit less frequent spasms.
Get the Full Picture
As your humble guides to medical marijuana, we can’t make professional medical decisions based on your situation. However, a medical marijuana professional can. Get in touch with a medicinal cannabis doctor or a marijuana dispensary to get more information.
Additional Intractable Skeletal Muscular Spasticity & Cannabis Resources
For more information about how cannabis can be used to treat Intractable Skeletal Muscular Spasticity, check out our resources: