Updated on January 30, 2019. Medical content reviewed by Dr. Richard Koffler, MD, Board Certified Physiatrist
About 5 million Americans deal with fibromyalgia, an unexplained pain disorder. Since we still need to figure out exactly what causes it, we don’t have a cure. Instead, we can only treat its symptoms to make dealing with it easier.
Doctors will often prescribe painkillers for fibromyalgia patients. Usually, they prescribe over-the-counter medications and amp it up to prescription painkillers if necessary. However, no matter what painkiller you use, the medicine will have potentially harmful sides effects. Some of them include addiction and liver damage.
As we learn more about the medicinal benefits of cannabis, more and more patients choose medical marijuana as an alternative to painkillers. In fact, chronic pain is one of the most commonly approved conditions under state medical marijuana programs.
Do you believe marijuana won’t give you the relief that your pills can? Think again. Many patients discover medical marijuana helps them just as much as painkillers do — sometimes, even more.
The National Pain Report surveyed 1300 fibromyalgia patients about medical weed. About 62% found it very effective for pain relief, and 33% thought it helped a little — that’s 95% of patients feeling the benefits of medical marijuana.
Of course, medical marijuana doesn’t come without side effects. It can cause nausea, a “foggy” head and increased hunger. But, painkillers have potentially dangerous side effects that pot doesn’t.
For instance, any kind of painkiller can damage your liver. Even over-the-counter meds can hurt your liver, especially if you don’t take them as directed. Plus, narcotics and opioids are addictive. When you take them, you must work very closely with your doctor to ensure that your body doesn’t react negatively when you change your dosage.
The side effects of medical marijuana tend to be much tamer and easier to manage. Getting the munchies is less life-threatening than a damaged liver.
Painkiller typically have one purpose: to treat pain. But, they usually don’t treat any other symptoms.
On the other hand, cannabis serves as a multi-purpose medicine that can help with other fibromyalgia symptoms like depression, fatigue, concentration problems and sleep issues. You just need to pick a strain with the right mix of benefits.
While medical marijuana has tons of benefits that traditional medicine can’t offer, it’s not a miracle drug. It can have some negative aspects for certain patients.
For example, medical marijuana works differently for everyone, which makes your treatment a little unpredictable. You might have to experiment with different treatment methods or strains before you get satisfactory results.
Also, as we mentioned before, medical marijuana has side effects. Some of them, like tiredness and lack of focus, can interfere with daily tasks.
But, in both cases, you can switch things up to reduce the influence your side effects have on your life. If you work with your doctor, you can experience only minor side effects that are much less harmful than painkiller side effects.
If you live in a state with legalized medical marijuana, you will probably qualify for cannabis medication due to your pain symptoms. Do as much research as you can using resources like our doctor pages and dispensary pages so you know how to start the process.
When you begin your treatment, keep in close contact with your doctor and dispensary to help you adjust.