Medical marijuana is used as a treatment for several different symptoms and conditions, most of them related to nerves and nerve-pain. Cervical stenosis is a disease of the cervical spine that typically occurs because of degeneration of the vertebrae in the neck area.
Additionally, cervical spinal stenosis can occur as a result of tumors and other diseases, or injuries. Often, the symptoms of cervical spinal stenosis are nerve-related.
Medical marijuana can be used to treat some of the symptoms of cervical spinal stenosis, thereby making the individual feel much more comfortable. However, it is not a cure for the disorder- it cannot repair the spine.
What Exactly is Cervical Spinal Stenosis?
Cervical spinal stenosis is diagnosed due to the spine getting narrower in one of two key ways. Stenosis can occur in the spinal column itself, placing pressure on the spinal cord. Also, it can occur in the spaces where the spinal nerves go out from the spinal column, this places pressure on the nerves where it is occurring.
Stenosis doesn’t occur just in the cervical (neck) area of the back and spinal column. It can also occur in the thoracic (middle back) or the lumbar (lower back) areas.
Symptoms of Spinal Stenosis
Spinal stenosis symptoms will typically affect just one side of an individual’s body. He/she may feel numbness and/or pain in the legs, neck, shoulders, and arm. Additionally, there might be some weakness in the affected limbs.The individual may also have trouble maintaining balance while walking and difficult controlling the expulsion of waste.
All of these signs and symptoms are related to the nerve pressure or damage that is a result of the narrowing of the spine. The condition will gradually worsen over time.
Can Marijuana be Used to Treat Cervical Stenosis?
Currently, the treatments for spinal stenosis are surgery or general pain management. Pain management usually includes counseling, physical therapy and even possibly pain medication. Medical marijuana cannot be used to replace surgery, physical therapy, or counseling if indicated in a person that has been diagnosed with spinal stenosis.
However, it can be used to replace, complement, or even act as pain medication on its own for those who suffer from chronic pain related to spinal stenosis. Additionally, research has shown that it might help to relieve an addiction to opiates in those who have been on addictive medications for spinal stenosis for a long period of time to treat their chronic pain.
Chronic Pain Research and Medical Marijuana
Some people believe that medical marijuana has been proven to be a wonderful option for chronic pain in some individuals. Just as with all pain medications, whether or not it works depends on the individual’s tolerance for it and whether or not the negative side effects appear. In clinical and pre-clinical trials it is proving to be a wonderful reliever for nerve pain- which is exactly what individuals with spinal stenosis need.
A study performed at the University of California in San Francisco has shown that medical marijuana is a practical pain medication option to be used in conjunction with opiates for chronic pain. When it is used in conjunction with opiates, the amount of highly addictive and possibly dangerous amount of opiates an individual needs to take is decreased significantly.
Marijuana has been around for a very long time and has never shown any potential for life-threatening overdose, therefore making it much safer to the alternative- which is large doses of opiates. Over time, an individual can develop a tolerance to the opiates and therefore must take more and more to get the relief that they seek.
In the study at University of California in San Francisco, the patients were given doses of medical marijuana along with lower doses of their opiate pain medications and did not have a decrease in the pain relief. In fact, they actually were able to have more pain relief from the combination of the two than they were able to get on just the opiates.
Since using opiates can result in death not carefully monitored and taken properly, lessening the dosage of opiates by combining them with the medical marijuana could actually end up saving lives. The individuals suffering from the cervical spinal stenosis will actually gain relief from their pain without risking their lives. Additionally, medical marijuana can be used after surgery to manage pain.
Using Medical Marijuana to Treat Other Nerve-Related Conditions
Over the past twenty years, studies have shown that medical marijuana can be used to alleviate the stiffness in muscles that is a result of multiple sclerosis, symptoms of compression neuropathy, peripheral neuropathy, and sensory neuropathy in AIDS patients as well as others.
Symptoms of these conditions include tingling, burning, pain, and even weakness. Neuropathy can develop as a result of spinal stenosis. Therefore, the studies into conditions such as AIDS and multiple sclerosis show that medical marijuana indeed can help individuals diagnosed with cervical spinal stenosis, as well as an array of other nerve-related conditions/disorders.