Treating Juvenile Fibrous Dysplasia With Medical Marijuana

Updated on January 31, 2019.  Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer

Treating Juvenile Fibrous Dysplasia With Medical Marijuana

Fibrous dysplasia is a benign condition, but if left untreated it can affect the life of your child. Bones become fragile or prone to break because normal bone is replaced with soft and stringy fibrous tissue. The disorder usually crops up in children between the ages of 3 and 15. It commonly affects only one bone (monostotic), but multiple bone fibrous dysplasia (polyostotic) can occur.

In most cases, the disorder is mild, and parents may not even notice their child has the condition. However, if your child has a severe case of juvenile fibrous dysplasia, it’s advisable to seek medical advice, as the disorder can lead to other complications.

Although medical marijuana is not a cure for fibrous dysplasia, it could be a good alternative to surgery, especially while a child or adolescent’s bones are still developing. Many people discredit using cannabis as a treatment for children because of its psychotropic side effects. However, with its many distinct advantages to certain pain meds, it may be a safer alternative. Plus, marijuana medications have been produced that have little to no risk of getting a user “high.”

Characteristics of Juvenile Fibrous Dysplasia

Fibrous dysplasia is not inherited. It’s thought to be caused by a gene mutation in the bone of those affected. The most common bones impacted are the skull and face and the long bones, like the humerus, tibia or femur. There are some characteristics parents can look for if they believe their child has juvenile fibrous dysplasia:

  • Bone fractures
  • Bone deformities
  • Bone lesions
  • Walking difficulties
  • Facial asymmetry or shifting facial features
  • Colored skin patches

Sadly, the condition is sometimes accompanied by complications that can worsen if left untreated:

  • Nasal obstructions
  • Difficulties chewing or swallowing
  • Compression of the optic or acoustic nerve, leading to sight or hearing difficulties
  • Endocrine gland or thyroid issues

Children with severe cases of fibrous dysplasia sometimes have fractures or deformities that cause pain or functional impairment. In these cases, immediate treatment is needed.

Conventional Treatments for Fibrous Dysplasia May Be Wrong for Juveniles

The three most common forms of treatment don’t cure fibrous dysplasia, but they do help manage pain and strengthen bones. Although these options have found success in adult patients, they may not be the right choice for children and adolescents with the condition.

  1. Surgery: Surgery is often needed for fractures or deformities that are causing impairment or pain. This includes fixing the issues and reinforcing the affected bone with screws or plates. Surgery places a high amount of stress on a child’s body and is usually pursued as a last resort. There is a risk of increased pain or infection.
  2. Bone Medication: A class of drugs called bisphosphonates is the only non-surgical option practiced by most medical professionals. It prevents bone loss and reduces pain, but does have the potential for adverse side effects like kidney problems and digestive issues.
  3. Pain Medication: For juvenile patients struggling with bone pain, a doctor may prescribe the short-term use of pain meds. However, this should be carefully monitored as nausea, stomach pain, itching and loss of appetite can occur.

Medical Marijuana as an Alternative Treatment for Juvenile Fibrous Dysplasia

Because marijuana is relegated by many as an illegal drug, it’s often not considered a beneficial medical option. However, because of astounding reports from parents who have treated their children’s illnesses with medical marijuana, people are starting to take a second look. Children with epilepsy and cancer have experienced favorable results from the herb.

Surgery and medication are pretty much the only treatment options for patients with fibrous dysplasia. However, these choices may not be suitable for children. Marijuana is illegal federally, but it has been approved by many states for children and adolescents with qualifying medical conditions.

Cannabis treatments offer incredible benefits to fibrous dysplasia patients of all ages. Plus, with the advent of strains high in the cannabinoid CBD, these medications are non-psychoactive, meaning they have all the medicinal value without getting users “high.” Some of the fibrous dysplasia symptoms aided by medical marijuana include:

  • Chronic pain
  • Stiffness
  • Mobility issues

New studies are finding there may be a link between cannabis and bone health. This means we may soon be seeing medical marijuana treatments to prevent fractures and help patients heal after the fact.

Contact Your Child’s Doctor

If you think marijuana is a good treatment option for your child’s juvenile fibrous dysplasia, it’s essential to contact their doctor. Any therapeutic decisions should be discussed with them, as they know the specifics of your child’s medical history. Also, medical cannabis is only legal to children with the consent of a qualified physician.

For more information about medical marijuana and its positive effects on juvenile fibrous dysplasia, contact a  medical marijuana-certified doctor near you or one of your state’s medical marijuana dispensaries.

Additional Fibrous Dysplasia & Cannabis Resources

For more information about how cannabis can be used to treat Fibrous Dysplasia, check out our resources: