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Overview of Spinal Stenosis

The current treatments for spinal stenosis are generally pain management and surgery. Pain management can include counseling, physical therapy and/or pain medications. Medical marijuana cannot replace counseling, physical therapy or surgery if it is indicated in a person with spinal stenosis. However, it can replace, complement and/or act as a pain medication for individuals with chronic pain from spinal stenosis. Research also indicates that it may help relieve addiction to opiates in individuals who have been prescribed addictive medications for a long period due to chronic pain. 

Findings: Effects of Cannabis on Spinal Stenosis

Medical marijuana is showing to be a great option for chronic pain in some sufferers. Like all pain medications, its efficacy will depend on the tolerance of the individual and the appearance of negative side effects. Nonetheless, it is working well for most individuals in clinical and pre-clinical trials. It is proving to be a reliever of nerve pain, which is precisely what spinal stenosis sufferers need.

A study at the University of California, San Francisco showed that medical marijuana is a viable medication for use with opiates in chronic pain. When used with opiates, it decreases the amount of addictive and potentially dangerous opiates a patient needs to ingest. Marijuana has never been shown to produce life-threatening overdose symptoms, so it is a much safer alternative to large doses of opiate medication as a patient builds up a tolerance for the drugs.

In the UCSF study, patients given medical marijuana along with a lower dose of their opiates did not lose their pain relief. In fact, they obtained more pain relief from the combination than they were getting from their opiate regimens. Because opiate use can result in death if not carefully monitored and taken responsibly, the lessening of opiate dosages by combining them with marijuana could potentially save lives. Patients get more pain relief and less risk of death. Medical marijuana can also help with pain after surgical treatment of spinal stenosis.

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