Fibromyalgia is a common, yet complex chronic pain disorder. It causes pain and tenderness that can spread over many places in the body. More than 10 million people in the USA suffer from fibromyalgia. Statistics say that 8 out of 10 of the victims of this condition are women. It can affect men and children as well.
What Are Symptoms Of Fibromyalgia?
The word fibromyalgia is translated as pain in the muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Pain in these areas is by far from the only symptom, which can vary from person to person, with other symptoms including fatigue, tenderness, and malaise. Lab tests should be conducted to rule out other conditions or identify co-existing conditions like thyroid hormone resistance, rheumatoid arthritis, and lupus.
Just as there can be a variance in symptoms, there can be a variance in their severity. Sleep disturbances like sleep apnea can occur, as well as memory problems. Stiffness can also be a big issue for those that suffer from fibromyalgia. While dealing with all of these painful and distressing conditions, depression, anxiety, migraines, pelvic pain, irritable bowel syndrome, and overactive bladder can be problematic too. Stress from the condition often makes dealing with fibromyalgia even worse.
How Is Fibromyalgia Treated?
Since there is no known cure for fibromyalgia, several approaches for managing the condition are often recommended. Prescription medications, mild exercise, and cognitive-behavioral therapies are used. A doctor may promote self-management strategies along with long-term health goals to help a patient reduce symptoms and the frequency of flare-ups. Sometimes people that suffer from chronic pain feel stigmatized and will stay away from family and friends. This in itself can cause depression.
It has only been since 2007 that the first of three FDA approved medications became available for treating fibromyalgia. pregabalin (brand name Lyrica) was the first, duloxetine (Cymbalta) was the second, and milnacipran (Savella) was the third. These drugs are to help manage pain. New medications are still in the works and may gain FDA approval soon.
In addition to the medications mentioned above, other non-narcotic pain medications can be prescribed as well, such as tramadol. Low doses of antidepressants may be prescribed as well to help improve sleep and relieve pain. If depression in a patient becomes more severe, higher levels of these or other medicines might be prescribed by a doctor.
How Could Cannabis Be Beneficial For Fibromyalgia?
While many people that suffer from fibromyalgia turn to prescription drugs and exercise to help deal with the debilitating pain, others have looked into using cannabis as either an alternative or as a supplement to their prescribed medications.
Many people still think of cannabis use as simply recreational, when in actuality it has been used for medicinal purposes for thousands of years by cultures all around the world. One of the main benefits of medical marijuana is pain relief. This can prove helpful for those that have fibromyalgia and many other conditions and diseases that cause chronic pain. One of the issues dealing with using cannabis for pain is that it is still illegal in many USA states. While 11 states allow for recreational and medicinal use, and 33 states allow medicinal use of marijuana, other states do not allow it to be used at all.
How Does Medical Marijuana Work For Pain Relief?
There’s plenty of research that confirms the medical benefits of marijuana as a treatment for pain, and many people swear by its effectiveness for treating certain symptoms with fibromyalgia and other conditions. The chemical compounds in marijuana are thought to provide relief from pain, anxiety and migraine-related nausea.
Two main cannabinoids found in marijuana are THC and CBD. To read more about THC, CHD and other cannabinoids, check out What Are Cannabinoids?
In at least one study that has been done, there are suggestions that THC could relieve headache pain and could influence areas of the brain that relates to coordination and memory. While THC has psychoactive properties that can make you high, CBD does not. CBD has anti-inflammatory and anti-anxiety properties.
Is Cannabis A Possible Treatment For Me?
Before you make any decision regarding cannabis as a treatment for your fibromyalgia, check the legal status of marijuana in your state. If your state has legalized cannabis for medicinal use only, then you will likely need a prescription from your doctor to obtain it.
Even if you live in a state that has legalized cannabis for all purposes, growing your own might not be the best idea. It takes time and patience to learn how to grow this plant, and you may be better off purchasing your medicine from a dispensary that already has high-quality cannabis. The potentially beneficial compounds in cannabis can vary from batch to batch and you will want to know that the compounds you need are in plentiful supply in the cannabis you use.
If you’re already taking prescription medications prescribed by your doctor, you always want to check with them before you add a new treatment or stop taking any medication. Marijuana could interact with medications you already take, and your doctor should advise you on this.