Far too many Americans suffer from ongoing pain. This is particularly a problem for older adults, as the accumulation of birthdays may also contribute to an increasing likelihood of conditions such as arthritis or diabetes that can cause pain. But even younger people may suffer from chronic pain, and the current options for relief are limited.
What Can Be Used for Pain Relief?
The CDC has just issued a guideline that will make it more difficult for doctors to prescribe narcotics for chronic pain. You can read what we wrote about the new policy here. That means that many people will need to find other ways to keep pain under control.
We recently published a question about an older woman who was given a prescription for hydrocodone to ease the pain of a broken rib. When she fell again, a doctor told her the narcotic was probably to blame. He suggested acetaminophen (Tylenol) instead. This recommendation raised some hackles among readers, including this person:
Did We Overlook Medical Marijuana?
Q. When you discussed chronic pain management, you flubbed the polarized subject of medical marijuana use for pain. The proper strains of marijuana work well and are extremely cost effective in pain management.
Come to Colorado and talk to doctors who prescribe medical marijuana for patients; talk to patients and the dying who don’t care what capsule they take if it works. I was recently diagnosed with fibromyalgia and three doctors recommended narcotics.
Narcotics Overprescribed for Older Adults:
In my retirement community, opioids are dispensed like candy. Elders fall or suffer the cognitive loss associated with these drugs.
I went to a local retail dispensary here in Colorado. The person I spoke with recommended a CBD to THC formula of 8 mg to 0.7 mg of THC. It works. You are doing elders and other in pain a grave disservice if you continue to ignore medical marijuana.
Medical Marijuana for Pain Relief:
A. Medical marijuana is legal in 23 states and Washington, DC. Scientists have found it hard to study, though, since the plant produces hundreds of compounds.
Some of those compounds are being utilized medicinally. CBD stands for cannabidiol, a compound that does not make people high. THC is tetrahydrocannabinol. It contributes to the euphoric feeling recreational users seek.
Doctors are beginning to take marijuana more seriously as a botanical medicine (Annals of Medicine, online, Feb. 25, 2016). To learn more about this topic, you may wish to listen to our hour-long interview with David Casarett, MD, professor of medicine at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine and author of Stoned: A Doctor’s Case for Medical Marijuana.
People in chronic pain who, like you, live in states where medical marijuana is legal, may wish to investigate this possibility. It makes a great deal of sense to use it only after consulting with a knowledgable professional who can guide you as to dose, method of administration, timing and potential side effects.