Topicals vs. Ingestibles to Treat Muscle Spasms

Updated on August 29, 2018.  Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer

Topicals vs. Ingestibles to Treat Muscle Spasms

As Americans get more and more legal freedom to use medical marijuana, more patients with muscle spasms are using the plant to treat their condition. But, the world of cannabis medicine is a new territory for many folks. When you first start out as a medical marijuana patient, you have tons of important decisions to make.

What strain should you pick? Where do you want to buy your medicine? How should you take your medication?

Today, we’re going to focus on that last question. Specifically, we’ll focus on two of the most popular ways to address muscle spasms — topical and edible treatments.

Like any other issue related to medical marijuana, we don’t have a cut-and-dry answer about which one works better for patients with muscle spasms. Instead, we’ll give you the information you need to understand how each kind of treatment will impact your symptoms.

You should consider three factors when picking your medication method:

1.    Speed of Relief

Marijuana edibles and topicals take different amounts of time for you to feel their effects. Even among the various products in each category, there are different estimates for when the product will kick in. When you decide between weed edibles and topicals, you should think about how quickly you need to feel relief.

Edibles usually take a longer time to take effect than topicals. You must wait between a half an hour to an hour to feel their effects, and the intensity depends on how your body metabolizes it. To find out when and how edibles will kick in, you should experiment to see how you react to them.

The speed of relief for a topical treatment depends on the kind of topical treatment you use. For instance, lotions give relief quickly in a localized area, and patches provide slow and gradual relief. You can keep a few different types on hand if your needs vary from time to time.

2.    The Nature of Your Muscle Spasms

To pick the right medication for you, you should also think about where your muscle spasms come from. The source of your muscle spasms and their severity influence the best choice for you.

Since they enter your digestive system and spread to the rest of your body, edibles provide a full-body effect. Disorders originating in places like the nervous system get directly addressed when cannabis medicine circulates through your body. But, if you have pain in just one area, you might benefit more from a topical.

Topicals have more varied uses than edibles. Lotions and creams suit localized pain rooted in a physical cause like muscle strain. On the other hand, you can use a patch to treat your whole mind and body.

3.    Your Physical Ability and Lifestyle

When you think about your medication decision, remember to think about your personal preferences and what you can and cannot do. The benefits of a type of medicine become moot if it doesn’t mesh with your lifestyle or ability.

For example, folks who have trouble eating and digesting may not have the option of using edibles. Also, since most edibles come in the form of desserts, they might not suit a diabetic diet. Or, perhaps you’re trying to lose weight and would rather avoid the calories included in edibles.

Topicals don’t suit every person’s circumstances, either. If you don’t have someone to apply a lotion to you when you need it, it won’t work for you if you have a physical disability that prevents you from doing it yourself. Or, you simply can’t wear a patch due to your job.

Consult With the Pros

Of course, we can’t take the place of trained, educated cannabis experts. Make an appointment with a medical marijuana doctor or stop by a dispensary near you to learn more about edibles and topicals.