Updated on January 31, 2019. Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer
One of the most prominent symptoms of Tarlov cysts is pain. The discomfort caused by the pressure, pain, and inflammation makes it much harder for Tarlov cyst patients to go about their daily lives.
Doctors usually prescribe pharmaceutical painkillers to manage Tarlov cyst-related pain. But, they can be harmful to patients when they cause severe side effects and don’t always do the job.
So, many chronic pain patients, including those with Tarlov cysts, have tried medical marijuana as an alternate option. Some use it as a total replacement, while others supplement their existing treatment with it.
Tarlov cysts press on your spinal cord, putting pressure on the nerve roots there. The pressure can eventually compress the nerves, causing pain symptoms. Patients with Tarlov cysts experience different types of pain, including:
Some patients experience reduced pain when they lie down, feeling more pain when they sit or stand.
The treatment that a Tarlov cyst patient receives depends on the pain severity they deal with. As the cyst puts more pressure on the spinal nerves, the patient can experience more pain.
Patients experiencing mild to moderate pain can get by using NSAIDs, lower-strength painkillers don’t contain narcotics or steroids. You can buy most NSAIDs over-the-counter, so you don’t need a prescription for them. While they have fewer risks than stronger painkillers, they can still damage your liver, stomach, and kidneys.
When NSAIDs don’t work well enough, a doctor may prescribe a corticosteroid medication. Corticosteroids reduce the inflammation caused by the cysts, reducing the resulting pain. They can cause side effects like high blood pressure, glaucoma and mood issues.
In addition to medication, some patients use TENS therapy, a procedure where minor electric impulses reduce nerve pain. It’s one of the safest treatment options, but it doesn’t always completely relieve pain on its own.
If symptoms become severe enough, a patient may have to undergo surgery to drain their cysts. Since the operations involve delicate work on the spinal cord area, they can come with significant risks. Surgery doesn’t always provide relief — some patients find their cysts refill with fluid.
Medical cannabis patients all over the United States use their medication to relieve pain caused by a wide variety of conditions. It can help soothe multiple kinds of pain, including muscle and nerve pain.
Both anecdotal and scientific evidence point to marijuana’s ability to reduce pain symptoms. For years, patients have praised cannabis medicine’s painkilling properties. Many studies on the effects of medicinal cannabis observe its effects on pain, and much of the research backs up the patients’ claims.
Plus, compared to standard pain medication, medical marijuana has safer side effects. Pharmaceutical painkillers can damage your organs and cause addiction. However, cannabis-only causes mild side effects that are easy to manage and have no long-term implications.
Marijuana contains tons of different components we call cannabinoids that interact with your body’s cannabinoid receptors to relieve symptoms. The two most well-known cannabinoids, CBD and THC, can reduce the pain that someone feels. Since our bodies already produce their own cannabinoids, marijuana works with your body to provide relief.
While we can give you a general overview of marijuana’s medical uses, we can’t replace the advice of a certified doctor who knows their stuff about cannabis medicine. If you already use medical marijuana, you can also talk with your dispensary budtenders to learn how their products can relieve your symptoms.
For more information about how cannabis can be used to treat Tarlov Cysts, check out our resources: