Trying Marijuana for Fibromyalgia Pain
Fibro warrior Sarah Borien and RN Krystina Ostermeyer look at the pros and cons of cannabis for fibromyalgia.
A recent research study from 2015 noted that the use of medical marijuana for chronic pain was deemed as “mostly safe” — especially if the people using it had prior experience with the drug.
The Canadian research study noted that the medical marijuana users, compared to the control users who didn’t use medical marijuana, were more likely to “have less-serious side effects…these side effects included headache, nausea, sleepiness and dizziness.”
This study discusses chronic pain in general — but can medical marijuana help for a chronic pain disorder such as fibromyalgia?
Although fibromyalgia is often thought of as strictly a “pain” disorder, it is actually more complicated than that.
According to Mayo Clinic, fibromyalgia is characterized by “musculoskeletal pain accompanied by fatigue, sleep, memory and mood issues. Researchers believe that fibromyalgia amplifies painful sensations by affecting the way your brain processes pain signals.”
Because there are many facets to fibromyalgia, it is notoriously difficult to treat. Doctors may shun patients because of the difficulty in treating their symptoms.
As there is no cure for fibromyalgia, it is a lifelong condition to manage, and can at times be frustrating, requiring a combination of prescription, holistic and lifestyle treatments.
Conventional Fibromyalgia Treatments
Conventional treatments for fibromyalgia include medications to reduce pain, such as over-the-counter medications (acetaminophen, ibuprofen, and naproxen), and prescription medications, such as tramadol. Prescription opioids are often shunned in the treatment of fibromyalgia as they may actually increase pain over time.
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Anti-seizure medications and antidepressants are also used to treat fibromyalgia. Antidepressants can decrease the pain and reduce fatigue. A certain antidepressant, amitriptyline, can be used in the evening to help with sleep.
Anti-seizure medications are useful in treating pain associated with fibromyalgia; medications in this category include gabapentin and pregabalin (Lyrica). Lyrica is actually the first FDA-approved medication for the treatment of fibromyalgia.
Alternative Medicine for Fibromyalgia
Alternative therapies may be used in conjunction with conventional therapies. Alternative therapies for fibromyalgia include acupuncture, massage and the use of certain exercises, such as yoga and tai chi.