Is Marijuana an Appropriate Tool for a Non-Opioid Pain Management Strategy?

Marijuana is being seriously looked at by major drug companies and patients in need of pain relief

As both states and the federal government are adopting policies to stem the opioid addiction crisis, marijuana is being seriously looked at by major drug companies and patients in need of pain relief.

While marijuana remains controversial – it is still an illicit substance under federal law – pain relief is a noted side effect of many strains of marijuana, and it’s not proven to be physically addictive like opioids. However, even in states that have legalized marijuana, many don’t allow marijuana to be recommended for chronic pain because long-term side effects are largely unstudied.

But that’s changing as researchers better understand marijuana’s primary chemical agents THC and CBD. Several drug companies are even developing synthetic versions of marijuana agents in the hope that a scientifically-proven, non-addictive pain management medicine can improve the marketplace.

One study featured in the Journal of Health Economics by David Powell et al., suggests that deaths and relationships to medical marijuana and opioids are comparable. Other studies show fewer deaths in patients using marijuana to treat chronic pain.

The United States is in the midst of a declared opioid epidemic. Many who overdose start their addiction with prescribed opioids. However, opioids are highly addictive and should only be prescribed in certain situations for short-term pain management.

As patients decide whether marijuana is right for them, and the medical community and government agencies settle into policies around marijuana, it’s important to realize that there are many alternatives to opioids and should all be in the discussion for chronic pain management.

Patients should consider epidural steroid injections, radiofrequency ablation, or amniotic stem cell treatment as just a few ways to reduce pain without the dependence on opioids. Integrated Pain Consultants is committed to offering the right pain management plan for patients interested in alternatives to opioids. Contact Integrated Pain Consultants at 480-626-2552 today.

Dr. Nikesh Seth is the founder of Integrated Pain Consultants and a double board-certified Anesthesiologist and Interventional Pain Management Expert. He has been voted Top Doc by Phoenix Magazine three years in a row and named the top anesthesiologist and pain management specialist in Arizona.

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