Updated on January 31, 2019. Medical content reviewed by Dr. Richard Koffler, MD, Board Certified Physiatrist
Chronic pain is one of the most well-known health conditions that can be treated with marijuana. About 100 million U.S. citizens deal with chronic pain, so you aren’t alone if you have it, too. Most states that allow medical marijuana approve chronic pain as a medical marijuana-eligible condition.
But, “chronic pain” is quite the umbrella term. What types of pain can you treat with medical marijuana? After all, pain can come from many different sources.
We’re here to clear things up for you. Medical marijuana can soothe a variety of aches and pain caused by all sorts of medical issues.
Some patients don’t have an underlying issue causing their chronic pain. This phenomenon is called idiopathic pain, and it affects many more people than you’d think.
Many patients with idiopathic pain get dismissed by their doctors as making it up. Even though most have become more understanding, not every physician will take them seriously. So, some patients have to take control of their treatment plan by using medical marijuana.
When you injure yourself severely enough, your doctor may prescribe you painkillers. However, higher-strength pain medications and narcotics has the potential for addiction, and any painkiller can damage your liver.
So, what do you do when you need temporary and safe relief to take care of an injury that hurts you a lot? Marijuana can serve as an alternative to pharmaceuticals to get you through recovery. If you’re 21 or older and live in a state that allows recreational weed use, you can buy it just as easily as you would an over-the-counter drug.
In the U.S., arthritis is the most common cause of disability. Doctors use more than 100 medications to treat arthritis. When you use medical marijuana, you can supplement your pharmaceuticals with it or even replace them, taking the guesswork out.
Headaches range from minor incidents to chronic, severe migraines. If you live in a state that prohibits recreational use, you probably can’t use cannabis for occasional headaches. However, some medical marijuana states let you use it for migraines to reduce your symptoms.
While we don’t fully understand where fibromyalgia comes from, we do know medical marijuana has the potential to reduce the pain it causes. Medical cannabis can supplement or replace the painkillers and mental health drugs used to treat fibromyalgia.
For patients going through treatment for their cancer or HIV/AIDS, the medication and procedures can cause a lot of pain. Medical marijuana can help reduce treatment-related pain using two approaches: it can directly relieve the pain and make the treatment more effective to reduce the dosage.
Some forms of cancer directly cause pain symptoms not related to the treatment. Cancer can require a complicated regimen of medication you can simplify with multipurpose cannabis meds. Plus, as we mentioned before, it takes away some of the pain from chemotherapy and other procedures.
Of course, these conditions aren’t the only ones that can make you frequently hurt. Our guide to chronic pain and medical marijuana mentions even more disorders you can treat with cannabis. And, you can check the full list of qualifying conditions to see if you can receive medical cannabis treatment.
If you’re just getting started learning about medical marijuana, we’re happy to lend a hand. We recommend starting by checking out the marijuana laws in your state so you understand what your legal options are. Then, you need to find a doctor who can recommend marijuana for you and a dispensary where you can buy your medicine.