Updated on December 10, 2018. Medical content reviewed by Dr. Richard Koffler, MD, Board Certified Physiatrist
Since most patients with hydromyelia are children with brain-related birth defects, we must take utmost care when thinking about the safest ways to address the condition. While many patients with chronic pain from a condition take strong painkillers, patients often relieve hydromyelia pain with NSAIDs, a milder form of painkiller. This prevents child patients from taking such a risky substance.
But, as a less effective kind of pain medication, NSAIDs don’t always provide enough relief for severe cases of hydromyelia pain. So, some patients have tried marijuana-based medication instead.
When someone has hydromyelia, their spinal cavity’s central canal widens, creating a cavity where spinal fluid collects. Eventually, enough spinal fluid builds up to press on the spinal cord. When the spinal cord receives too much pressure, its nerve cells become damaged.
The damage to the spinal cord nerves causes uncomfortable symptoms and can result in long-term damage. Symptoms mainly include chronic pain, muscle stiffness, and weakness. Some of the less common symptoms are the loss of sensation, headaches, incontinence, issues with speech and vision and scoliosis.
Hydromyelia patients usually receive surgical procedures that remove the excess spinal fluid and promote normal spinal fluid flow. But, in the time periods surrounding procedures, patients still may need pain relief. In addition, not every patient can go through an operation.
So, many hydromyelia patients still have a need for painkillers while their condition is addressed in other ways. Children with the condition take NSAIDs to reduce pain symptoms.
NSAIDs, or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, are a type of drug used to relieve pain. As the name implies, they work especially well for pain related to inflammation. However, some patients use them for other kinds of mild to moderate pain.
The most well-known NSAID is ibuprofen, which you can find over-the-counter. But, some milder prescription painkillers like naproxen also count as NSAIDs. Aspirin is also an NSAID, but patients under 16 years old shouldn’t use it for their hydromyelia-related pain.
Although NSAIDs can’t make the patient dependent like narcotics and opioids, they still have risks you should consider. They can cause damage to the stomach, liver and kidneys. In addition, they can exacerbate bleeding disorders and stomach ulcers.
Hydromyelia patients can use over-the-counter NSAIDs or receive a prescription for a stronger NSAID. However, even when using more potent NSAIDs, patients may not get enough relief. Since you can only take so many NSAIDs a day without damaging your organs, there is a limit to the amount of pain reduction they can provide.
Many patients who take cannabis medication use it for its painkilling properties — and for good reason! The two main components in marijuana, CBD and THC, both effectively relieve pain, especially when they work together. While many symptoms are only treated with one component, marijuana is practically nature-made to help patients dealing with chronic pain.
If you’re the parent of a child with hydromyelia, you may worry about your child using a drug known for making people high. Fortunately, not every kind of marijuana medication provides the mental impairment we associate with weed. You can use a CBD-only medication that provides painkilling benefits without the high that comes from THC.
Plus, medical marijuana comes in plenty of kid-friendly forms. If your child doesn’t like to take pills or syrups, you can give them a CBD-infused goody or incorporate CBD oil in their favorite food. Kids who have muscle stiffness or pain can have a lotion rubbed into the muscles to relax and soothe them.
For more information about how cannabis can be used to treat Hydromyelia, check out our resources: