Chronic pain — whether it’s caused by arthritis, fibromyalgia, neuropathy, or migraines — can have a significant impact on your quality of life. Typically, conditions that cause chronic pain are very complex in nature. Your doctor may not be able to determine a root cause and it may take some time before they arrive at an official diagnosis.
Rarely is there a defined cure for any condition associated with chronic pain. Rather, patients often have to change their lifestyle and harness therapeutic strategies to help minimise the impact of symptoms.
The 2018 legalisation of medical cannabis in the UK offered eligible patients another avenue through which they could mitigate symptoms. Continue reading to learn more about the effects of medical cannabis and strategies you might adopt to help manage chronic pain.
What Is Chronic Pain?
Chronic pain is typically defined as pain that lasts longer than 12 weeks despite medical intervention. Chronic pain differs from acute pain in that acute pain normally has a specific cause — like a broken bone — that disappears following a specific recovery period.
Chronic pain, on the other hand, often doesn’t have a root cause. Doctors may be puzzled by your symptoms and run several diagnostic tests without attaining a conclusive result. Known conditions that can cause chronic pain include arthritis, fibromyalgia, cancer, neuropathy, cancer, and musculoskeletal injuries.
Despite the persistent nature of chronic pain, sufferers won’t necessarily experience symptoms daily. Pain may come and go and range in severity from day to day.
Strategies To Manage Chronic Pain
Your doctor or specialist will be able to recommend tailored strategies to help you manage symptoms associated with chronic pain. These may include any of the following:
Physical therapy: People who suffer from chronic pain often spend significant periods of time sitting or lying down in bed. Depending on the cause of your pain, this may not actually help. Your doctor may recommend physical therapy, including massage, stretching, and light aerobic exercise to help improve mobility and maintain muscular strength.
Psychological therapy: Often, conditions that cause chronic pain are associated with psychological conditions, including anxiety and depression. If you feel that your illness is not particularly well understood or that it is causing you to become isolated from those around you, it’s natural to feel nervous, upset, or dejected. Psychological therapy offered by a psychologist, counsellor, or therapist, may be an appropriate strategy to help you manage these emotions.
Lifestyle changes: As is the case with many physical conditions, your diet and level of exercise can impact the severity of your chronic pain. Engaging in light exercise and enjoying a diet rich in whole, healthy foods may be recommended as a strategy to mitigate symptoms.
Medication: In some situations, over-the-counter or prescription medication may be recommended by your doctor to help manage chronic pain. Medical weed, for example, may be prescribed in situations where a patient has tried multiple therapeutic options without a positive effect.
Medical Cannabis And Chronic Pain
Medical cannabis in the UK was legalised in 2018 and clinicians listed on the Specialist Register of the General Medical Council are able to prescribe the medication to eligible patients.
How does medical cannabis work? Well, it contains several active ingredients, primarily two cannabinoids known as CBD and THC. These cannabinoids act on our endocannabinoid system, which plays an important role in many body functions, including sleep, mood, appetite, and inflammation. CB1 and CB2 receptors, part of the endocannabinoid system, are spread throughout the brain. Cannabinoids interact with these receptors as part of medical cannabis’ mechanism of action in chronic pain.
Obtaining A Medical Cannabis Prescription
Not all patients dealing with chronic pain will be prescribed medical cannabis. There are strict eligibility requirements that must be met in order for a doctor to dispense this medication.
Patients must have obtained an official diagnosis — whether it be arthritis, fibromyalgia, neuropathy, or another condition that causes chronic pain. In addition, they must have tried multiple treatment options that have not proven to be successful in managing their symptoms.
With these regulations in mind, patients who are considered for this medication tend to be those who have been suffering from a particular condition for a number of years.
Unless your doctor is listed on the Specialist Register of the General Medical Council, they will not be able to offer you a medical weed prescription. However, they may be able to recommend a specialist who can conduct an eligibility assessment to discern whether medical cannabis is an appropriate strategy to help you manage your chronic pain. Alternatively, search online for a medical cannabis clinic to find a provider who operates in your area.
Chronic pain can be very difficult to live with. If you believe you meet the eligibility requirements for a medical weed prescription, reach out to a medical cannabis specialist today.
Bridget is a writer and editor, currently living in Melbourne. She is a copywriter for Newpath Web and loves working with words of all shapes and sizes. When not playing around with punctuation and grammar, she enjoys travelling and curating her Spotify playlists.