Multiple sclerosis is a multifaceted condition that causes intense discomfort for those experiencing it. Every patient has a different experience with MS, but most of them deal with pain. About 55% of MS patients have dealt with significant pain at some point, and 48% of MS patients experience chronic pain.
Due to the many ways that multiple sclerosis manifests, it has the ability to trigger many types of pain in a wide range of areas. By affecting the central nervous system, MS can impact a lot of the important parts of your body.
Pain seriously interferes with your quality of life, and unfortunately, the traditional solutions we have can have severe drawbacks. So, many people with MS have turned to medical marijuana to find pain relief without the risks.
How Multiple Sclerosis Causes Pain
While we may think of MS as a condition only related to the nervous system, it actually begins in the immune system. Multiple sclerosis happens when the patient’s immune system confuses the protective fat around their nervous system for a harmful substance. As a result, the immune system attacks the fatty covering, leaving the nervous system exposed to damage.
So, the nature of pain arising from multiple sclerosis depends on which part of the nervous system gets damaged. MS pain falls into three categories:
- Acute Pain: When the nerves that communicate sensations send the wrong signals, you can feel pain in many areas, especially your legs and feet. Acute pain doesn’t harm you, but it can be very uncomfortable.
- Chronic Pain: On the other hand, your MS pain can come from a physical source rather than a neurological one. Ongoing pain comes from muscle spasms, immobility, misusing a mobility aid or movement impairment.
- Pain Related to Emotional Changes: Multiple sclerosis sometimes makes patients experience anxiety since dealing with the disorder is so challenging and unpredictable. Feeling anxious can make your muscles tense up painfully.
Issues With Standard Painkillers
In most cases of pain, a doctor will prescribe painkillers for the patient. However, any kind of pain medication has dangerous side effects, even over-the-counter drugs.
While over-the-counter analgesics like ibuprofen have fewer risks than narcotics or opioids, they have two major drawbacks:
- They don’t have as much painkilling power as prescription medicine, so they can’t address severe pain.
- They can damage your stomach, liver and kidneys.
Prescription narcotics and opioids are stronger than analgesics, but they come with significant risks. Both types have major potential for dependency. Addicted patients eventually become more tolerant to the drug and start experiencing withdrawal symptoms, as well.
Medical Marijuana as a Natural Painkiller
Pain relief is a popular use for medical marijuana. Tons of patients can attest to cannabis’ ability to reduce their pain levels. Additionally, it is recognized as a painkiller by many states that have legalized medical weed.
Studies back up the claim that marijuana relieves pain for patients. As one of the most researched topics in the field of medical marijuana study, cannabis pain relief has extensive evidence proving its legitimacy.
While marijuana proves useful for soothing pain, it also comes with less severe side effects than standard pain medicine. Cannabis can cause damage to the lungs if smoked, but patients have plenty of other options that don’t hurt their respiratory system. Many of its side effects can be counteracted by changing the strain of marijuana used, or the time the patient uses their medication.
If you have pain resulting from MS-related anxiety, you can use marijuana to reduce your anxiety symptoms, therefore reducing the frequency of muscle tension.