Can Marijuana Help With Fibromyalgia?

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Fibromyalgia is a chronic pain condition with many symptoms. While research on marijuana is lacking, many people say it helps.

Fibromyalgia is a painful disorder that affects around 8% of people worldwide. The disorder is more often seen in women. In fact, it affects about twice as many women compared to men. Although fibromyalgia is relatively common, it remains poorly understood.

Medical marijuana has the potential to relieve many symptoms of fibromyalgia, including pain. While there is still little research on the topic, many patients report benefits from using marijuana.

Overall, health professionals remain unsure about marijuana for fibromyalgia. Until more research is conducted, patients will have to rely on anecdotal reports and online surveys.

What Is Fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia is a medical condition that results in widespread pain felt over the entire body. This pain is characterized further by deep tissue tenderness at specific spots known as tender points.

What Are The Symptoms?

The core symptom of fibromyalgia is pain. Scientists believe that processes in the central nervous system (part of the nervous system consisting of the brain and spinal cord) underlie how this pain is felt.

Fibromyalgia cannot be diagnosed with a brain scan or other lab test. But doctors can perform a tender point test, examining painful sites on the body to help determine whether a person is suffering from fibromyalgia.

Symptoms of fibromyalgia can include:

  • Pain (especially joint pain)
  • Muscle aches
  • Sleep problems
  • Fatigue or tiredness
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Numbness
  • Headaches
  • Concentration or memory problems known as “fibro fog”
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (problems with diarrhea or constipation)

Aside from a heightened response to pain, sufferers often feel symptoms similar to the flu or the feeling of having worked long hours. Most experience fatigue or tiredness even when they have had enough sleep.

Patients often have severe stiffness in the morning that may last for hours. Those with fibromyalgia are usually tired when they get up in the morning or after doing common daily activities like grocery shopping or cooking dinner.

Fibromyalgia affects day-to-day living in an ongoing and disruptive way.

Can Marijuana Treat Fibromyalgia?

There are relatively few controlled studies of the role of marijuana in the treatment of fibromyalgia. But marijuana can often be prescribed for pain conditions, and some surveys suggest that fibromyalgia sufferers can find relief in marijuana.

Specifically, marijuana may help relieve symptoms like pain, sleep disturbance, stiffness, mood disorders, and digestive disturbances associated with fibromyalgia.

Current Treatments

Current recommended treatments for fibromyalgia usually include a combination of exercise, cognitive behavioral treatment, mind-body awareness, and lifestyle changes. These may help overall quality of life but fall short on actual relief of symptoms.

Because other treatment options don’t always work, people who suffer from fibromyalgia often look for other options.

Medical Marijuana

Medical marijuana may be prescribed in Canada and some U.S. states for pain-related conditions. Marijuana is recognized for its pain-relieving (analgesic) and anti-inflammatory effects.

The potential for therapeutic effects associated with cannabis use may vary depending on the amount of cannabis used, concentration of cannabinoids, frequency of use, person’s age, previous experience, and use of other prescription or non-prescription drugs.

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