As many as one in five Americans live with chronic pain. A large number of them suffer from nerve-related pain. Such diseases may include arthritis, diabetes, cancer, migraines, multiple sclerosis, HIV/AIDS and many more.
Survey data indicates that the use of cannabis is common in chronic pain diseases and several recent clinical trials indicate that inhaled cannabis can significantly alleviate pain. A pair of clinical trials recently demonstrated that smoking cannabis reduces neuropathic (nerve) pain in patients with HIV by more than 30 percent compared to a placebo.
Chronic pain is generally treated with opioid narcotics such as morphine, codeine, oxycodone, methadone and other synthetic analgesics. Many of these drugs are addictive and some patients actually build a tolerance to them over time. Other patients complain of the incapacitated state that many of these drugs induce.
Like opiates, cannabinoids block the pain pathways of the central nervous system but through a different neurochemical signaling system. Many patients find that medical marijuana can reduce or even replace the opiate drugs they used for chronic pain depending on their condition. They also report the ability to continue to work and function normally throughout the day.
Cannabinoids found in medical marijuana have additional effects, specifically alleviating inflammation around damaged nerves and have been especially useful for the “phantom pain” associated with amputation.