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Severe Chronic or Intractable Pain
and Medical Marijuana

Patients in Pennsylvania can now legally obtain medical marijuana to help with pain management.

Cannabis serves two important roles in safe, effective pain management. It can provide relief from the pain itself (either alone or in combination with other analgesics), and it can control the nausea associated with taking opioid drugs, as well as the nausea, vomiting and dizziness that often accompany severe and prolonged pain.

Causes of pain

Persistent and disabling pain can have numerous and sometimes multiple causes. Among them are cancer; AIDS; sickle cell anemia; multiple sclerosis; defects or injuries to the back, neck and spinal cord; arthritis and other rheumatic and degenerative hip, joint and connective tissue disorders; and severe burns. Pain is not a primary condition or injury, but rather a severe, frequently intolerable symptom that varies in frequency, duration, and severity according to the individual. The underlying condition determines the appropriate curative approach, but does not determine the proper symptom management. It is the character, severity, location and duration of the pain that determines the range of appropriate therapies.

Cannabis for relief

Inhaled cannabis provides almost immediate pain relief, with significantly fewer adverse effects compared to other pain medications. Inhalation allows the active compounds in cannabis to be absorbed into the blood stream with greater speed and efficiency. It is for this reason that inhalation is an increasingly common, and often preferable, route of administration for medication. Cannabis may also be more effective because it contains many more cannabinoids than THC. Cannabis and THC have been conclusively shown to have better pain control properties when taken in combination, rather than THC alone.

Links

The Effect of Medicinal Cannabis on Pain and Quality-of-Life Outcomes in Chronic Pain: A Prospective Open-label Study

journals.lww.com

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Medical Marijuana: Clearing Away the Smoke—The Open Neurology Journal

The Open Neurology Journal

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The Pharmacokinetics, Efficacy, Safety, and Ease of Use of a Novel Portable Metered-Dose Cannabis Inhaler in Patients With Chronic Neuropathic Pain: A Phase 1a Study

Journal of Pain & Palliative Care Pharmacotherapy

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Cannabis and Pain: A Clinical Review

National Institutes of Health

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