To live with fibromyalgia is to do a chronic dance with pain. It’s a condition that impacts both muscle and soft tissue resulting in areas of pain, tenderness and fatigue. It can be difficult to rate the symptoms, because those symptoms are often subjective, meaning they can’t be measured by tests. And for that reason, fibromyalgia is frequently misdiagnosed.
And while fibromyalgia is generally accepted as a legitimate disease, there is a small group of physicians and researchers who don’t consider fibromyalgia to be a real condition. And that can lead to the risk of depression if the patient finds it difficult to get acceptance for painful symptoms.
Research has shown that women are somewhat more likely to develop fibromyalgia than men and that victims of the disease often have tension headaches, temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders, irritable bowel syndrome, migraines, anxiety, painful bladder syndrome, depression and something commonly called “fibro fog” that impairs the ability to focus, pay attention and concentrate on mental tasks. And while there is no cure for fibromyalgia, several medications and lifestyle alterations can help control the symptoms.
Cannabis For Fibromyalgia
And that’s where cannabis steps into the picture. A series of recent studies have suggested that marijuana can be helpful in easing the pain and controlling the symptoms. There is a growing body of research that suggests fibromyalgia may involve a deficit in naturally produced cannabinoids known as endocannabinoids. And that suggests using cannabis for fibromyalgia might offer answers.
Cannabis Lotions and Balms a Good First Step
Recent studies have shown lower back pain (LBP) associated with fibromyalgia is more conducive to the use of cannabinoids than to standardized analgesic therapy (SAT). At the top of the list are the available topical applications infused with cannabis.
Studies conducted at two hospitals in Israel (Laniado Hospital and Nazareth Hospital) quizzed patients both before and after the cannabis trials they undertook. After beginning the treatment, all the 26 patients said there had been some significant improvement in each of the classifications covered by the post-trial questionnaire.
Half of the patients reported they were able to quit using other medications that they had been using to combat their fibromyalgia entirely. Eight of the 26 (30 percent) reported some very mild adverse effects.
The end result was the conclusion on behalf of the Israeli researchers that medical cannabis treatment for fibromyalgia had a significant favorable effect on patients with fibromyalgia with few adverse effects.
Cannabis Helps Reduce Pain and Enhance Sleep
Other studies undertaken in the last few years have come to generally similar conclusions. One suggested that cannabis, either inhaled or used as a topical treatment, can reduce both pain and muscle stiffness and lower the inflammation that often accompanies fibromyalgia and enhances relaxation and sleep.
Another study also suggested that the users of cannabis in the war against fibromyalgia had a higher mental health score than non-users. And yet another study, which looked at the impact of a synthetic cannabinoid known as nabilone, suggests that a low dose at night can improve sleep in those suffering with fibromyalgia and said its use in this instance could be considered as a reasonable alternative to some antidepressants.
These studies were taking place as Colorado and Washington State voters led the movement toward decriminalization of marijuana. At the time those studies suggested that the risks of the use of cannabis came not so much from any side effects, but from the chances of being arrested, charge and convicted of a crime or getting marijuana with unknown and potentially dangerous substances included in it.
With the ever-increasing availability of either legal marijuana or medical marijuana, those issues have been greatly reduced, although only in some states.
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