How Medical Marijuana Helps Treat Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (Types I & II)

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Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) is a chronic progressive disease that affects an arm or a leg. It is characterized by severe pain, swelling as well as changes in the skin. This condition usually develops after a stroke, a heart attack, a surgery or an injury and often, the pain is out of proportion to the severity of injury. There are many symptoms of Complex Regional Pain Syndrome and these symptoms may change over time or vary from person to person. Some of the most common symptoms of CRPS include continuous burning or throbbing pain, usually in the arm, leg, hand or foot, sensitivity to touch/cold, swelling of the painful area, changes in hair/nail growth, changes in skin temperature and skin texture, joint stiffness/swelling as well as a reduction in the ability to move the affected body part.

Even though the cause of Complex Regional Pain Syndrome is yet to be understood by scientists, many researchers think it’s caused by an injury or an abnormality of the peripheral and central nervous systems. It should be noted that CRPS exists in two types (Type 1 and Type 2). Type 1, which is alternatively known as reflex sympathetic dystrophy syndrome (RSD) often occurs after an illness or injury that didn’t damage the nerves in the affected limb. Type 1 is also the most common form of CRPS and an estimated 90% of people suffering from the condition have it. Type II on the other hand is referred to as causalgia and it’s quite similar to Type 1, but occurs after a distinct nerve injury. It is imperative to diagnose and treat Complex Regional Pain Syndrome early enough, because failure to do so could result in complications like tissue wasting (atrophy) and muscle tightening (contracture). Therapies as well as certain medications like pain relievers, anti-depressants and anticonvulsants, bone loss medications, corticosteroids, intravenous ketamine and sympathetic nerve-blocking medications can be used to treat Complex Regional Pain Syndrome.

Of course, like many other drugs, the medications used in treating CRPS are associated with adverse side effects and this explains why more and more people are turning to rely on medical marijuana as an alternative treatment. It is imperative to note that medical cannabis is associated with very few side effects, most of which are mild and last for just a few hours.

Medical marijuana has actually been recommended to patients suffering from chronic pain caused by Complex Regional Pain Syndrome. Of course, it is no longer news that medical cannabis is used to treat chronic pain as well as reduce muscle tension. In 2012, a study was published in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry. This study was aimed at examining the effect marijuana extract pills had on the pain and muscle stiffness of patients suffering from Type 1 CRPS. The findings from this study indicated that an estimated 29% of the patients who took the cannabis pills experienced a noticeable reduction in stiffness, whereas only about 16% of the patients who were placed on the placebo pill reported any reduction in stiffness.

Another study that was published in 2013 in the Journal of Pain investigated the effect of vaporized cannabis on neuropathic pain. It should be noted that although not all the patients of this study suffered from CRPS Type 1, all of them suffered from some type of nerve pain. During this study, the patients were divided into three and given either a low dose, medium dose or placebo cannabis to vape. The findings from this study showed that the patients who were administered the low and medium doses of cannabis experienced similar, yet noticeable levels of pain reduction. There were few or no adverse effects on these groups of patients.

Many other studies have revealed that medical cannabis may be more effective in treating pain associated with both Type I and II CRPS, than opioid medications including morphine. This assertion can be backed by the fact that when the nerves are damaged, the receptors that respond to morphine tend to disappear, thereby making the medication ineffective. On the other hand, cannabinoid receptors often remain, even after an injury. Moreover, cannabis is greatly less addictive as compared to morphine and opioids.

Although evidence is mounting and pointing to the fact that medical marijuana could be a safer alternative treatment of CRPS, there is an absolute need for more scientific investigations on the subject.


Mayo Clinic

Marijuana strains reported to help with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (Types I & II):

How To Get Medical Marijuana

If you are a resident of a legal state interested in trying medical marijuana to treat Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (Types I & II) or other medical conditions, you will first need to consult with a certified doctor in order to get a medical marijuana card. To get started, simply fill out the MMJ patient registration form, press submit and a physician or clinic representative will contact you as available.

Patient Registration Form

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