Updated on January 28, 2019.
Medical content reviewed by Dr. Richard Koffler, MD, Board Certified Physiatrist
Dystonia makes your muscles involuntarily move and contract, significantly interfering with your ability to get through the day. Cervical dystonia specifically affects your neck, causing it to painfully twist and turn.
Currently, we don’t have a cure for any kind of dystonia, including cervical dystonia. Instead, we can only try to reduce the symptoms. Standard treatments can be unpredictable, working for some patients while doing nothing for others.
As an alternative solution, some patients with dystonia use medical marijuana for symptom relief, and many have found it works even better than typical treatments with fewer risks.
Typical Treatments for Dystonia
Since dystonia is such a rare disorder and has many possible causes, it’s difficult to treat it properly. Doctors base treatment off the underlying reason, but it doesn’t always work. They usually try one of four options:
- Botulinum Toxin (Botox) Injections: You may think of a cosmetic procedure when you hear the word “Botox,” but the procedure has medical uses, too. Botox relaxes the muscles it’s injected into and provides benefits for a few months. However, it can cause rashes, allergic reactions, digestive issues and pain.
- Prescription Medications: Some patients take prescription medication to manage their dystonia symptoms, such as anticholinergic drugs, muscle relaxants and anti-spastic agents. They can cause dehydration and fatigue.
- Physical Therapy: Physical therapy helps patients re-train their muscles to do daily living tasks. But, it doesn’t work for every patient with dystonia.
- Surgery: In severe cases, a patient may go through a procedure called deep brain stimulation, where electrical pulses are applied to the brain.
As you can see, dystonia treatment is a trial-and-error process of potential solutions that don’t work for every patient. Many of these options have risks you may not want to take.
Marijuana Medicine as a Cervical Dystonia Treatment
Compared to the usual approaches to handling dystonia, medical marijuana has much more promise and fewer dangers. It provides the following benefits for dystonia patients:
- Pain Relief: The two main components in cannabis, THC and CBD, are known to relieve both muscle spasms and pain. When you take medication with both chemicals, they work together to reduce those symptoms even more.
- A Natural Treatment: Marijuana works naturally with receptors in your body specially meant to take in cannabis-like compounds.
- Non-Impairing Medicine: If you worry about feeling stoned when using medical marijuana, you can ask specifically for medication that doesn’t impair you. CBD-only medicine helps pain and spasticity without affecting your brain.
- Options for Ingestion Methods: Depending on your state’s laws, you can take cannabis medicine in a variety of forms, including edibles, oils and tinctures. Or, you can take it as a pill like any other drug.
Interested in Learning More?
Directly consulting with the experts can help you decide if medical marijuana is right for you. Schedule an appointment with a cannabis-positive physician today, or contact a dispensary near you to learn more about medicinal cannabis.
More Information About Medical Marijuana and Dystonia