July 24, 2024

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Chronic and Acute Pain Can Both Be Treated With Cannabis

3 min read

It is common knowledge that the majority of medical cannabis users cite pain as the primary reason for using. We will assume that they are talking about chronic pain in most cases. But did you know that medical cannabis is gaining support as an alternative treatment for acute pain?

Utah is among a small number of states with active medical cannabis programs that have added acute pain to their list of qualifying conditions. According to the operators of the Utah Marijuana website, the decision to add acute pain was the result of grassroots lobbying and lawmaker education.

Defining Chronic and Acute Pain

It is important to understand the differences between chronic and acute pain to fully grasp the implications of adding the latter two estates list of approved medical conditions for cannabis consumption. Chronic pain is generally defined as any type of pain that is felt daily, or almost daily, for a minimum of three months.

For the purposes of defining medical cannabis consumption, many states reduce the three-month threshold to three or four weeks. But whether the measurement is in weeks or months is less important than the fact that the pain is the result of a chronic issue.

On the other hand, acute pain is pain that comes on suddenly and is expected to be temporary. A good example from a medical cannabis standpoint is post-surgical pain. The pain comes on suddenly as a result of a surgical procedure. It is expected to subside as the patient recovers.

Medical Cannabis for Chronic Pain

Assuming that most patients who use cannabis as a pain treatment suffer from chronic pain, the implications are pretty significant. There is that group of chronic pain patients who have turned to medical cannabis after trying just about every option. Nothing has worked well enough to provide consistent relief.

Chronic pain sufferers in this camp are often desperate. Many of them have used prescription narcotics and decided, for whatever reason, to stop doing so. Who can blame them? Prescription narcotics come with their own baggage that can be worse than the pain they are supposed to treat.

If you have never experienced chronic pain severe enough to be debilitating, you might not understand why medical cannabis would be attractive. But it is a different story to someone whose entire life is dictated by how severe the pain is at any given moment. Patients living that experience will often try anything, including medical cannabis.

Medical Cannabis for Acute Pain

The implications of recommending medical cannabis for acute pain are just as profound. Turning back to post-surgical pain, consider what patients are typically prescribed in the days and weeks following: narcotic pain medications. We all know what those medications are. We also know how addictive and harmful they can be.

I will be honest in saying that I would be reluctant to take prescription narcotics following surgery. First of all, I have taken them in the past and simply don’t like how they make me feel. Secondly, I would never want to take them long term for fear of their addictive potential.

Given the option to face post-surgery recovery with either prescription narcotics or medical cannabis, I am choosing cannabis. And if I don’t like how it makes me feel any more than prescription narcotics, I will grin and bear it while taking the edge off with OTC pain medications.

There continues to be quite a bit of debate over relying on medical cannabis as a pain treatment. But given the alternatives, treating both acute and chronic pain with cannabis should at least be an option.

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