Overview of Fibrous Dysplasia

Fibrous dysplasia is a congenital, benign condition that causes fibrous tissue and immature bone to replace normal bone. The abnormal growth is sometimes described as scar-like lesions or benign tumors. The fibrous tissue is much softer than normal, healthy bone tissue. That abnormal development causes weakness in the bone, which may increase the risk of fractures or cause the bone to be deformed.

The monostotic type of fibrous dysplasia affects just one bone in the body. This is the most common form of the condition. The polyostotic version of fibrous dysplasia affects multiple bones, but is less common.

Because symptoms vary in severity — some people’s symptoms are so mild they’re unaware they have the condition — it’s difficult to understand how many people actually have fibrous dysplasia. Estimates suggest rates anywhere from one in 15,000 people to one in 30,000 people have the condition. It affects people of all races, and it affects males and females equally.

Fibrous dysplasia is a rare condition most often diagnosed in children and young adults. It can affect any bone in the body. However, it most commonly occurs in the skull and face, femur, tibia, humerus, pelvis and ribs. And, although the condition can affect multiple bones at once, it cannot spread from one bone to another. The condition is caused by a defective gene in the cells that form bone, as well as other affected tissues. That gene mutation happens after conception. Fibrous dysplasia is not inherited, so parents do not pass it on to children. The specific cause of the gene mutation is unknown.

Fibrous dysplasia sometimes occurs as part of a condition called McCune-Albright syndrome. The syndrome typically involves the polyostotic type of fibrous dysplasia, early puberty, endocrine issues and changes in skin pigment that typically cause brown spots.

Findings: Effects of Cannabis on Fibrous Dysplasia

Pain is a primary concern for patients with fibrous dysplasia. The pain can be an ache in the bones, throbbing or radiating pain. For chronic pain management, achy bones and weakness, medical-grade marijuana can provide immediate relief for patients with fibrous dysplasia.

Both THC and CBD, two cannabinoids present in various strains of medication marijuana, help decrease both acute and chronic pain. The cannabinoids activate CB1 and CB2 receptors, which can help manage pain levels. In some cases, medical marijuana for fibrous dysplasia can treat pain that doesn’t respond to traditional pain management options.

Stiffness is another possible symptom associated with the condition. Surgical procedures to treat the condition may contribute to the stiffness. Marijuana can help reduce stiffness, which increases the ability to move easily. Reduced pain and stiffness can help patients live a more normal life.

Research on marijuana and fibrous dysplasia is very limited for two primary reasons. First, the condition is rare, so it doesn’t catch the attention of researchers like diseases with higher incidences. Second, marijuana is considered a Schedule 1 drug, and researchers often have limited access to it, making research difficult.

Despite the lack of research, patients with fibrous dysplasia may find relief from pain by using cannabis. In addition to the pain relief, marijuana may help improve bone health and could support healing after fractures. Several cannabinoids, including CBD, CBC and CBG, may stimulate bone growth, which can help patients with bone weakness due to fibrous dysplasia.

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