Trying Marijuana for Fibromyalgia Pain
Fibro warrior Sarah Borien and RN Krystina Ostermeyer look at the pros and cons of cannabis for fibromyalgia.
A recent research study from 2015 noted that the use of medical marijuana for chronic pain was deemed as “mostly safe” — especially if the people using it had prior experience with the drug.
The Canadian research study noted that the medical marijuana users, compared to the control users who didn’t use medical marijuana, were more likely to “have less-serious side effects…these side effects included headache, nausea, sleepiness and dizziness.”
This study discusses chronic pain in general — but can medical marijuana help for a chronic pain disorder such as fibromyalgia?
Although fibromyalgia is often thought of as strictly a “pain” disorder, it is actually more complicated than that.
According to Mayo Clinic, fibromyalgia is characterized by “musculoskeletal pain accompanied by fatigue, sleep, memory and mood issues. Researchers believe that fibromyalgia amplifies painful sensations by affecting the way your brain processes pain signals.”
Because there are many facets to fibromyalgia, it is notoriously difficult to treat. Doctors may shun patients because of the difficulty in treating their symptoms.
As there is no cure for fibromyalgia, it is a lifelong condition to manage, and can at times be frustrating, requiring a combination of prescription, holistic and lifestyle treatments.
Conventional Fibromyalgia Treatments
Conventional treatments for fibromyalgia include medications to reduce pain, such as over-the-counter medications (acetaminophen, ibuprofen, and naproxen), and prescription medications, such as tramadol. Prescription opioids are often shunned in the treatment of fibromyalgia as they may actually increase pain over time.
Anti-seizure medications and antidepressants are also used to treat fibromyalgia. Antidepressants can decrease the pain and reduce fatigue. A certain antidepressant, amitriptyline, can be used in the evening to help with sleep.
Anti-seizure medications are useful in treating pain associated with fibromyalgia; medications in this category include gabapentin and pregabalin (Lyrica). Lyrica is actually the first FDA-approved medication for the treatment of fibromyalgia.
Alternative Medicine for Fibromyalgia
Alternative therapies may be used in conjunction with conventional therapies. Alternative therapies for fibromyalgia include acupuncture, massage and the use of certain exercises, such as yoga and tai chi.
Acupuncture is the use of fine needles inserted into various locations of the body. It uses an ancient Chinese medical system and is thought to restore the natural balance of the body. There are various studies that believe that acupuncture benefits fibromyalgia symptoms.
Massage uses manipulation of the muscles and soft tissues. It can reduce pain, heart rate and improve range of motion.
Yoga and tai chi are ancient use meditation and movement with relaxation techniques. Both can be helpful in controlling fibromyalgia symptoms.
Medical Marijuana for Fibromyalgia
Although there are a wide variety of medical and alternative options available for the treatment of fibromyalgia, people still suffer. Some may turn to medical marijuana.
As we’ve already discussed, medical marijuana may be beneficial for the treatment of chronic pain. Can it help fibromyalgia sufferers as well?
Medical marijuana is a hot-button issue these days. What many people don’t know is that there has been a synthetic version of THC, the active chemical in marijuana, available since 1986.
The FDA approved a medication called dronabinol (Marinol) for the treatment of nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy, and its scope was later approved to be used with AIDS patients.
Next page: Sarah’s perspective on medical marijuana for fibromyalgia.