What is Neuropathy?
Neuropathy, or peripheral neuropathy, is a medical condition with symptoms of weakness, numbing sensations, and pain where there is nerve damage. Neuropathy can be caused by diabetes, alcoholism, infections, trauma, autoimmune disorders, medications, and other disorders.
Symptoms vary for patients suffering from neuropathy, and they can be distinct depending on which nerves are damaged. When sensory nerves are involved, there are more likely to be complaints of tingling, burning sensations, and stabbing pains. If motor nerves are involved, patients suffer from lack of motor skills, weakness, and loss of control. Autonomic nerves affect things like heart rate, blood pressure, and digestion. If these are impacted, a patient can have bladder issues, and may not be able to regulate temperature very well. A person with neuropathy may not feel pain in effected areas which can cause further injury. For instance, a shoe that is too tight may cause a sore on the foot.
Most treatments for neuropathy focus on resolving the issue causing the neuropathy so weight loss, improved diet, increased exercise, and medication adjustments are utilized often. Symptom relief can be attempted with medications for pain, and devices like TENS units which uses electricity to stimulate the nerves. Physical therapy is also often ordered to increase movement.
Does Cannabis Relieve Neuropathy Symptoms?
Cannabis crops have been cultivated for thousands of years for medicine, fiber, and food. According to several studies, cannabis treatment for neuropathy pain has been shown to be highly effective. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) are the two major components of cannabis that work on the endocannabinoid system of the body.
In 2015, doctors Boychuck, Goddard, Mauro and Orellana published a systemic review in the Journal of Oral & Facial Pain and Headache which showed cannabis lowered pain in neuropathy patients when they had not found relief from other traditional treatments. Diabetes, multiple sclerosis, neuropathy in cancer patients, and muscle pain in HIV-patients have all shown improvements in several studies of cannabis use. Due to the effectiveness of cannabis for reducing pain in general, its use has continued to grow as an alternative to pharmacological medications. Fortunately, most studies looking at cannabis use over multiple years for treatment of pain have shown that its use can be safe long-term and results in no additional risk versus those who do not use cannabis. One key is ensuring a safe product supply for those who opt to use cannabis related treatments.
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Other considerations are increasing clinical research to continue to study the wide effects of cannabis use on ailments and disease. As scientists continue to unlock key mysteries of the plant, many are hopeful that even more people can find relief from pain and other symptoms of their diseases. Until certainties are clear regarding dosage, types of cannabis, and administration, people will continue to try legal forms of cannabis and report their personal results. What started as anecdotal reports of relief, are now being taken seriously and studied by the scientific community.