How Cannabis is Effective for Different Types of Pain
For many years, Cannabis has been recognized for its amazing ability to relieve pain. More importantly, cannabis has also been successful in relieving pain from different origins. As in, pain from the Central Nervous System, inflammation from injury and even neuropathic pain caused by dysfunction in the immune system. With proper application and dosing, cannabis can be effective for pain relief. Arizona Department of Health Services (AZDHS) reported, as of 2022, out of the total 212,083 medical marijuana card holders in Arizona, 94.05% (199,47) received their cards for Severe and Chronic Pain.
Types of Pain
Pain can be placed in three general categories; Nociceptive pain: pain, usually from injury, resulting in inflammation and a sharp or aching sensation. Neuropathic Pain: Stemming from damage to the nervous system and destruction of nerve cells, usually feeling pinching or stabbing in a area of the body (i.e M.S, Diabetes, HIV, Pain from Chemo). Central Pain: Pain arising from neurological dysfunction. This type of pain can be a result from injury or surgery, it can also be considered the, ‘catch-all’, for pain symptoms.
Identifying the origin of pain, along with the type, is the most important piece for finding the correct dose and method of cannabis consumption.
“Pain is a synergistic reaction in the body, occurring mostly between brain regions, by way of activated brain cells. These cells directly modulate the pain signals sent through the body, in some cases this is from physical injury resulting in, nociceptive pain. When an injury occurs there is damage to the surrounding tissue and inflammatory cells race to repair any damage.” Ingram 2017.
Cannabis is responsible for reducing the signal of pain at the injury site and dampening the effects of those signals as they travel up the spinal cord. A properly dosed regimen of CBD and THC has been successful in relieving pain signals from being so strong (CBD), while lessening the signals affect on the brain (THC).
Neuropathic pain is a slightly more broad type of pain caused by damage to the nervous system. This damage can be a result of disease, like diabetic neuropathy, or injury where the nerves become damaged causing a wide spread of multi-symptom pain. This can range from, Phantom Limb Pain, to something as simple as the tingling sensation when you hit your “˜funny bone’. Unfortunately, neuropathic pain most likely leads to chronic pain, as the nerves don’t heal very fast, making it hard to treat. (Ingram 2017)
How it Works
Cannabis has been shown to be affective on the, ‘often hard to treat’, neuropathic pain in two very distinct ways: Activating the CB1 receptors that exist in the brain’s, endocannabinoid system, to reduce pain. While also increasing the amount of serotonin produced by the brain, dulling the brain’s amount of pain signals traveling up the Central Nervous System.
Other Types of Pain
Centralized or Algopathic can be described as, chronic pain developed from extensive acute pain, as in: a result from surgery or an often unknown cause which there are dysfunction in the workings of the nervous system, but no known actual damage. We find this type of pain in patients with Fibromyalgia and complex regional pain syndrome. It is the unknown dynamic of centralized pain, which makes treatment difficult.
Despite the lack of knowledge of where central pain originates, cannabis has been proven to be effective for this type of pain by activating certain receptors in the Endocannabinoid system. This has helped relieve and prevent flare up symptoms from Fibromyalgia and other issues stemming from the central nervous system. Cannabis combats the pain by targeting the brains conception of pain signals and by regulating the actual pain receptors themselves, dampening their signal.
Although there has been very limited research on cannabis, and it’s effect on pain, nearly all studies done on mice have resulted in the astounding beneficial research and lean in the favor of Cannabis as an alternative form of medication. We, at NHCC, have personally experienced the benefits cannabis for treatment, and have been able to learn the importance of proper dosing, along with method of consumption. As research continues, we look forward to learning more about the medicinal properties and benefits of Cannabis.
By: Lindsay Howard