April 27, 2018
The reputation surrounding marijuana is currently undergoing some changes. Once considered a drug primarily associated with a certain fringe demographic, it is now inching closer and closer to the mainstream. This is largely the result of the legal status of marijuana, as it’s becoming far less regulated and more accessible to individuals with medical needs. With these changes have come many different opinions on the potential benefits and harms of the drug, as many claim it can relieve pain, while others point to its health risks. Below, our Glenn Dale physical therapists offer our two cents on the controversial topic and what role medical marijuana could play in relieving pain.
The sale and consumption of marijuana—or more broadly, cannabis, which also includes any organic products derived from the Cannabis sativa plant—has grown drastically over the past few years for both medical and recreational users. The market for legal cannabis in the U.S. grew by 74% between 2013-2014, to $2.7 billion, and sales exceeded $6.7 billion in 2016.
This rapid growth of the industry can be attributed to many individual state’s laws, which have become increasingly more lax towards the drug. Recreational marijuana is currently legal in nine states plus Washington, D.C., while 12 states have both medical marijuana and decriminalization laws, and 13 others have legalized only a certain type of medical marijuana. Here in Maryland, medical marijuana is now available for patients with certain chronic, debilitating or severe conditions. There are now at least 40 dispensaries open throughout the state, with more to come in the future, and patients who may be eligible for a recommendation—not a prescription—should ask their doctors for more information.
As the landscape surrounding marijuana is changing, more and more research is being conducted on its apparent far-ranging benefits for various medical conditions. One of the most important topics being discussed is the potential role of medical marijuana in helping to fight the opioid epidemic that is currently dominating the country. As it is generally considered to be far safer than addictive opioids, many are now promoting marijuana as an alternative drug to those who are in severe or chronic pain. In this regard, marijuana can be seen as another option along with physical therapy in the collective movement to reduce people’s dependence on opioids.
The connection between our practice and marijuana from Glenn Dale physical therapists
At CAM Physical Therapy and Wellness Services, our Glenn Dale physical therapists advocate the use of medical marijuana for any patients who are interested in avoiding long-term opioid therapy. Physical therapy is a movement-based practice that focuses on identifying the safest and most effective ways to alleviate your pain and help you move and function more easily. In a similar way, marijuana has been associated with a positive effect on painful conditions like fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis, back pain, tendinitis, rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis, so it’s possible that it can be used in conjunction with skilled physical therapy to address patients’ pain. As a result, both physical therapy and medical marijuana can be seen as much safer alternative options to opioids for managing your pain.
But we also believe that you should consult your physician and be aware of any associated risks before trying marijuana for the first time. Since research on the drug is only in its infancy, there is a great deal that is still not known about its risks and benefits. Marijuana has been associated with negative effects on the cardiovascular, respiratory and nervous systems, and everyone tends to react differently to it. So it is absolutely essential that you discuss these risks of medical marijuana and what to expect with your physician, especially if you are unfamiliar with the drug.
While there is still a great deal to learn about the potential therapeutic role of medical marijuana and how it can be used safely, plenty of research and personal experiences already support its effectiveness. At our practice, we stand by physical therapy as the safest and most beneficial treatment for all painful conditions, but we also acknowledge that medical marijuana may serve a purpose in the fight against opioids and pain as well. So if you’re dealing with any sort of pain, contact CAM Physical Therapy and Wellness Services to find out how our Glenn Dale physical therapists can help you. Call us at 301-464-7390 to schedule an appointment at any of our three clinics in Glenn Dale/Bowie, Laurel or Hyattsville, or where you can discuss this topic in more detail if you’d like. You can also click here for more information on medical marijuana and physical therapy.