Managing Muscular Dystrophy Pain With Medical Marijuana


Managing Muscular Dystrophy Pain with Medical Marijuana

Like several other debilitating conditions, muscular dystrophy (MD) can be treated with medical cannabis. MD encompasses several genetic disorders that cause muscle weakness due to the deterioration of skeletal muscle tissue. This disease gets worse with age, so most treatment options focus on keeping the patient comfortable and relieve their pain — and that’s exactly what medical marijuana can do.

Though there are more than 30 types of muscular dystrophy, the disease itself is incredibly rare. Annually, between 500 and 600 male newborns in the country are diagnosed with the most prominent types of the condition, Duchenne and Becker types. Overall, MD affects less than 200,000 people in the United States.

Types of Muscular Dystrophy

In order to decide if medical marijuana is the best treatment option for you or your love one’s muscular dystrophy, you need to understand which form of the disease you’re dealing with. Most people are diagnosed with one of the nine major forms of the condition:

  1. Duchenne is the most common form that primarily affects males — symptoms begin between ages 3 and 5.
  2. Becker is similar to Duchenne, but milder. This type also affects boys, but the symptoms don’t start until between ages 11 and 25.
  3. Myotonic is the most common in adults and affects a person’s ability to relax their muscles after contracting. It typically starts in the 20s and can affect men and women.
  4. Congenital begins at birth or shortly after.
  5. Limb-Girdle starts in the teens or 20s.
  6. Facioscapulohumeral affects the face muscles, upper arms and shoulders. Anyone, from teenagers to people in their 40s, can have this type of MD.
  7. Distal muscular dystrophy attacks the muscles in a patient’s hands, feet, arms and legs. This type usually doesn’t come until a person is between 40 and 60 years old.
  8. Oculopharyngeal creates weakness in the face, shoulder and neck muscles. Droopy eyelids and having difficulty swallowing are also side effects of this condition. Patients are typically diagnosed between ages 40 and 60.
  9. Emery-Dreifuss is mostly found in boys, starting around 10 years of age. Heart problems and muscle weakness are the typical side effects of this type of MD.

Cannabis and Muscular Dystrophy Pain

No matter which type of muscular dystrophy you or your loved one have been diagnosed with, there’s a strain of medical marijuana that can treat its symptoms. Although there’s no cure for the condition, cannabinoids have incredible pain-relieving qualities, and pain is a symptom that’s common among all types of MD.

Unfortunately, the pool of medical studies that have been done on marijuana and muscular dystrophy is limited. However, there’s been extensive research done on the effect of cannabis on amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), which also involves muscle weakness and chronic pain. Using these studies as a reference, medical cannabis could have the following effects on MD patients:

  • Pain relief
  • Sleep improvement
  • Appetite induction
  • Muscle relaxation
  • Bronchodilation
  • Saliva reduction

In addition to relieving pain and other physical symptoms, marijuana also has the ability to drastically improve the mental health of people suffering from muscular dystrophy. Physical health and mental health have a strong correlation — when one improves, so does the other.

As MD patients see how marijuana is affecting them physically — less pain, bigger appetite, improved sleep — they’re also likely to see some improvement in their mental health. Plus, marijuana can also be used treat mental health issues, like depression and anxiety, that could come along with a muscular dystrophy diagnosis.

If you’ve been battling the painful symptoms of muscular dystrophy for too long and are tired of the negative effects of dangerous, addictive opioids, it could be time to try medical cannabis as a treatment method. Use our resources to find a doctor and learn more about how medical marijuana can treat muscular dystrophy.

Information on Medical Marijuana & Muscular Dystrophy