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More than 50 million Americans live with chronic pain, experiencing it most days of the week for a minimum period of three months. Their pain is more than just an inconvenience — it’s a diagnosable medical condition that can make it difficult to function on a daily basis.
And then there’s the 2 in 5 Americans who’ve experienced some form of pain over the last three months. These individuals may not meet the criteria for chronic pain, but their discomfort is significant enough to seek out pain management solutions like physical therapy, acupuncture, and prescription medications.
The problem? Many of these solutions are ineffective or come with undesirable side effects that further hinder the person’s ability to live a full, healthy, and normal life. Take prescription pain medications, for instance. Not only do many of them cause dizziness, drowsiness, and nausea, but they can be highly addictive. That’s why an estimated 3-19 percent of people who take prescription pain medications eventually start to abuse them.
These factors, along with several others, have led Americans to seek out alternative methods for managing their pain. They’re looking for natural solutions that are effective without being exorbitantly expensive or riddled with harmful side effects. And that’s where THC for pain management comes in.
But does marijuana help with pain? The short answer is a resounding yes. THC has been proven to reduce discomfort levels by as much as 50 percent amongst chronic pain patients, while producing very minimal unwanted side effects — making it a highly appealing solution for those who suffer from chronic or intermittent pain.
But what types of pain is marijuana capable of treating? Are there specific cannabis products you should be using to treat different medical conditions? And what best practices should you be aware of?
In today’s blog, we’ll be discussing answers to the above questions and helping you learn how you can start using THC for pain management.
What Kind of Pain Does THC Help With?
There have been several studies that have analyzed the efficacy of THC for various types of pain, and the vast majority of these studies show promising results. Below are a few common medical conditions that benefit from the use of marijuana for pain relief:
Fibromyalgia is a chronic pain disorder that causes a person to experience pervasive, generalized pain throughout their body. The pain is often accompanied by muscle stiffness, a sensitivity to touch, and extreme fatigue. One study by the University of Heidelberg in Germany found a daily dose of 2.5 to 15 mg of THC significantly reduced pain levels for all participants who completed a trial. Plus, this same study also showed mental health benefits for fibromyalgia pain sufferers who take a low-to-moderate daily dose of THC. These findings provide a great deal of hope to the 4 million US adults who live with fibromyalgia — especially since those with the condition are 3X as likely to be diagnosed with major depression.
2. Rheumatoid Arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease that causes the body to attack its own tissues, specifically those in the joints (elbows, wrists, knees, hips, etc). People living with RA experience tenderness and swelling in the joints, as well as stiffness, fatigue, weakness, weight loss, and fever. What makes the situation even worse is that one third of RA patients report experiencing debilitating levels of pain five years after their diagnosis, which calls into question how effective traditional methods of pain management are for treating the condition.
If you’re frustrated with your current treatment plan, you may be wondering: does THC help pain caused by rheumatoid arthritis? The numbers tell us many RA patients have asked themselves this question and have begun using cannabis for pain management. More specifically, cannabis use among people with rheumatic disease tripled from 6 percent in 2014 to 18 percent in 2019, indicating a positive trend in symptom relief.
3. Muscle Strains
Back pain is the most common type of pain in the United States, with approximately 16 million Americans saying they experience persistent or chronic back pain. And the most common form of back injury? Yep, you guessed it — muscle strains. Strains occur when a muscle is overstretched to the point that it causes small tears in the fibers of the muscle or its tendons. This results in pain, swelling, and limited mobility.
Traditionally, muscle strains are treated with rest, anti-inflammatory pain relievers, and cold compresses, but many patients find these options to be only mildly effective for addressing pain. So does weed help with pain caused by muscle strains? THC has been shown to reduce muscle spasms and pain by as much as 45 percent with just 20 minutes of inhalation.
How to Use THC for Pain Management
1. Settle on a Strain
The strain is the first thing you’ll want to consider when buying weed for pain. Strains are essentially different breeds of cannabis and each one has its own unique effects, aromas, and benefits.
Here are a few of the most popular strains to be aware of:
Northern Lights is an Indica strain that’s most enjoyed for its powerful relaxing effect. This is a melt-into-the-couch cannabis strain that packs a punch. It’s also a well-known pain reliever, making it a great choice for those interested in using THC for pain management. It has a spicy aroma and an intense piney flavor, though, so if you’re looking for something fruity or citrus this might not be the best choice for you.
Blue Dream is a blueberry-flavored sativa strain that provides a brainy high. Many people feel more creative and uplifted after smoking or consuming this strain, so it’s recommended for those experiencing depression, chronic fatigue, or a general lack of motivation. It also provides pain relief and is ideal for minor aches or sore muscles. If you’re looking for a strain that will help manage more severe levels of pain, an indica-dominant alternative may help.
Kush strains tend to be a hybrid strain that provides a “floating-on-a-cloud” body high. For example, this Blackberry Kush vape cartridge offers sweet flavor and flowery aroma, ideal for smokers who prefer a less-pungent taste. Don’t let the name fool you, though, this is a high-impact strain and you’ll only need a little bit to feel significant pain relief. Just make sure you’re somewhere safe and cozy, because Kush strains are known to be sedating and there’s a good chance you’ll want to take a nap.
A great option for pain relief is combining the best of both worlds: THC and CBD. CBD has long been heralded as a pain relief treatment, with 64% of those who use CBD using it specifically for pain relief. By combining THC and CBD, you’ll get access to the mental and physical benefits of both. For example, this Dragonfly CBD:THC tincture features a hybrid THC strain, perfect for managing pain, stress and anxiety.
2. Educate Yourself About Safe Dosing
Anybody interested in using marijuana for pain has to understand how to safely and effectively dose. Consuming too much cannabis will produce unwanted psychological effects, while consuming too little will be ineffective in terms of addressing pain and other physical symptoms. But as with any medication, finding your ideal marijuana dosage takes a little time and experimentation.
Here are some general rules of thumb to follow when trying to find your ideal dose:
- Start low. Take just 2-5 milligrams for 2-3 days to see how a particular strain makes you feel. If you are inhaling, just inhale one or two times and wait for the effects to begin.
- Do not mix substances. It is extremely important not to mix cannabis with alcohol or other medications, especially if you are a first-time user (unless your healthcare provider has given the go-ahead to use cannabis while taking another prescribed medication).
- Increase periodically over time. After 2-3 days, you can begin to increase your dose incrementally. Always be sure to wait a while after increasing a dose to let the full effect take place. Once you have found a comfortable amount, repeat as needed.
3. Find a Product That’s Best Suited to Your Needs
Each person is different when it comes to consuming cannabis products. The way you choose to consume your THC for pain will depend on a number of factors, like how immediately you prefer to feel the effects of your cannabis, whether or not you want to inhale smoke, and how much you want to spend.
Here are some of the most common products amongst those who use medical marijuana for pain:
This type of cannabis is exactly what it sounds like — the flower of cannabis plants that have been processed (dried and cured) for selling. Cannabis flower is great becuase it allows you to access the full spectrum of the plant
Unlike dried cannabis, edibles come in different forms, like gummies, baked goods, tinctures, and even beverages. The primary difference between inhaling and consuming cannabis is the amount of time it takes for the effects of the marijuana to kick in. Inhaling provides a more immediate high, while edibles can take up to an hour to begin producing their full effects.
Start Your Wellness Journey with Wholesome
If you’re ready to get started using THC for pain management, you want to know you’re partnering with a reliable medical cannabis dispensary offering high-quality products. At WholesomeCo, we don’t just help you through the process of getting a medical marijuana card in Utah. We also offer free consultations to help you discover how cannabis can help you and provide educational resources to guide you on your wellness journey.
Did you know we offer fast, reliable, and discreet delivery to 99% of Utah, with no delivery fee? Schedule your cannabis delivery today!