Overview of Hydromyelia
Hydromyelia is a condition affecting the spinal cord and primarily affects children with brain-related birth defects. The condition causes pain and stiffness that can range in severity from mild to severe. Traditional treatment methods come with potentially severe risks, so many patients seek alternative treatments to control the symptoms. Understanding the relationship between marijuana and hydromyelia can help you determine if it’s a suitable treatment option for your symptoms.
Hydromyelia is characterized by abnormal widening in the central canal of the spinal cord. The central canal is a small tube-like structure. It runs through the middle of the spinal cord. This widening forms a cavity, also called a syrinx, where spinal fluid accumulates. The most common location for this cavity is in the neck area.
When this cavity occurs, the spinal fluid often doesn’t flow normally, which causes expansion in the cavity. That build-up of spinal fluid creates pressure on the spinal cord that is higher than normal, possibly causing damage to nerve cells and connections.
That nerve damage can cause acute symptoms, and it can also cause permanent damage if not addressed. As the cavity grows, the potential damage to nerves and other symptoms caused by the condition tend to increase in severity.
Although the exact cause of hydromyelia is unknown, it is directly linked to any obstructions that block the flow of the cerebrospinal fluid within the brain and spinal cord. Depending on the origin of the condition, it can either be congenital, which means it is present from birth, or acquired syringomyelia, which can occur as a result of trauma, tumor, meningitis and arachnoiditis.
Hydromyelia and syringomyelia are often used interchangeably, but the two are separate conditions, though there are some similarities. Both cause cavities to form in the spinal cord. The cause of the cavity formation is the primary difference. Hydromyelia is most often associated with hydrocephalus in babies and children or with certain birth defects, including Chiari Malformation II and Dandy-Walker syndrome. These birth defects typically affect the brain. Syringomyelia mainly affects adults and stems from trauma to the spinal cord.
Findings: Effects of Cannabis on Hydromyelia
Hydromyelia can be surgically treated by draining the cavities and implanting shunts if necessary. However, surgery on the spinal cord comes with the risk of potentially severe complications. The surgery isn’t always effective long term, which may require the patient to undergo more surgeries to relieve the symptoms of hydromyelia.
There is a far less invasive treatment for immediate pain relief. Pain is a primary symptom of the condition, and medical marijuana is known for its pain-relieving properties. Sativa-dominant strains are recommended for pain management, particularly muscle weakness and stiffness of arms, back, shoulders and legs. Medical marijuana ease the pain from the highly affected areas including the back, neck and shoulders.
Many patients prefer the safety of marijuana over the potential risk of surgery complications.
In addition to the pain relief, marijuana can help with sleep issues. Indica-dominant strains produce a sleepiness effect that can help you sleep. The combination of pain relief and sleepiness can help patients fall asleep and stay asleep better at night.
Research on cannabis and hydromyelia is limited due to weed’s status as a Schedule 1 drug. Federal regulations also make research more challenging. However, many studies and anecdotal evidence point to marijuana being effective for treating pain, inflammation and stiffness.
Marijuana is considered effective for a variety of pain types, including chronic pain, headaches, inflammation and neuropathic pain. To understand how marijuana helps with pain relief, it’s important to understand how the body’s endocannabinoid system works. Receptors in the endocannabinoid system are found throughout the body. Your body naturally produces chemicals called endocannabinoids.
These chemicals, and the system as a whole, keep the body in balance. The system affects almost all functions in the body, including the immune system, appetite, pain and other functions. The natural chemicals interact with the receptors to regulation those processes.
Marijuana contains a number of compounds called cannabinoids. These chemicals are similar to the natural chemicals created by the body. The cannabinoids in marijuana interact with the system’s receptors throughout the body. They can fill in for the natural endocannabinoids to help handle imbalances and symptoms to various conditions, including pain.
The cannabinoids in marijuana are also effective in treating inflammation, which is often a root cause of pain in the body. THC is one of the chemicals that fight inflammation. It is thought to have effective anti-inflammatory properties in addition to relieving pain.
CBD is another common cannabinoid that has an anti-inflammatory effect. Strains with both THC and CBD tend to have an entourage effect, which enhances the effectiveness of both components more than they would be on their own. Studies show that marijuana may help muscle stiffness and spasticity. Both these conditions may affect the body due to hydromyelia.