Updated on January 30, 2019. Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer
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.
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:
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:
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.
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.
For more information about how cannabis can be used to treat Multiple Sclerosis, check out our resources: