Cannabis for Pain Management – Avoid Opioids

Cannabis for pain management.

Image Credit: By Paola Chaaya on unsplash.

When pain strikes, your quality of life is reduced. For many years patients have relied on opioids for pain relief. However, managing pain is a process that requires significant attention. Therefore understanding pain management is a topic that ought to be understood. Pain management has two categories; acute pain and chronic pain.

Acute Pain

Acute pain is a type of pain that goes away within a reasonable timeframe associated with the healing the cause. Acute pain has a recognized source. If you cut your finger, you will experience short-term pain. The intensity of acute pain can vary from minimal to extreme. Passing a kidney stone is one of the most painful experiences. That is also an acute pain. It goes away once the cause is eliminated. Migraines cause acute pain and are a major concern for those who know what they feel like.

Chronic pain

Long lasting pain is called chronic pain. When an affliction has long-term effects, it is called chronic pain. Nerve damage that results from a herniated disc can last months and years. Defining chronic pain to a time frame is, more or less, arbitrary. Chronic pain is pain that extends beyond a reasonable period for which the cause of the pain could have been healed. Cancer pain is an example of chronic pain.


In 2016 the US had “more than 63,600 fatal drug overdoses…most of them from opioids” (CNN, 2017). The failure of opioids was responsibly addressed in 2000:

“Despite the existence of evidence-based guidelines, acute pain is not adequately addressed by healthcare professionals. Suboptimal pain management is not the result of lack of scientific information, considering the explosion of research on pain assessment and treatment. Yet reports documenting the inability of health care professionals to use this information continue to appear in the literature. Studies have found that two of the chief barriers for health care professionals are poor pain assessment and lack of knowledge about pain. Additionally, clinicians’ personal belief systems, attitudes, and fears can directly influence the manner in which they and their patients respond to the varied dimensions of pain management” (PMC-NCBI, 2000).

Pain management is a process that benefits from a variety of influences. Developing your ability to communicate and express your perception of your pain is extremely important to both conventional and alternative doctors. Using several types of medical practices brings balance to the overall treatment of pain by addressing prevention and natural healing to treatment. Conventional medicine is not the only way to encourage healing. Medical cannabis is an alternative medicine that can supplement the healing process. The attributes of medical cannabis have great appeal for managing pain. The chemical compounds in the marijuana plant have synergistic interactions with human biology that stimulate natural healing.

The results of medical cannabis studies challenge the current patient paradigm of pain management. Conventional medicine is largely based on the treatment of after-the-fact health problems. Surgery and synthetic pharmaceutical drugs are what they provide. Conventional medicine does have its place in our health care system. However relying completely on one school of thought when it comes to medicine is inherently limited and neglects the proper emphasis, education, and implementation of preventive medicines.

Cannabis research shows that a massive percentage of opioid users are likely to benefit more healthily by using cannabis for pain.

Another study reported by the Journal of Pain highlighted medical cannabis as having the following associated benefits for patients suffering from chronic pain (The Journal of Pain, 2016):

  • 64% reduction in pain
  • Increased quality of life
  • Reduction in medications used
  • Reduction of side effects

There is a great deal of risk associated with the prolonged use of opioids. The development of tolerance to opioids is a huge problem. Because of this, opioid pain medication should not be used as a long-term solution to pain management.


Conventional medicine is positioned in health care for treatment of illness and injury after it has occurred. If you break your leg, you get a cast. If you catch pneumonia, you are prescribed antibiotics. If you have a herniated disc, you can have your vertebrae fused. If you get a disease like cancer, conventional medical doctors attempt surgical removal and chemotherapy.

There is little emphasis placed on prevention and natural healing from conventional medicine. That is why unconventional medicine, such as naturopathy, chiropractic, acupuncture, and herbalism ought to be integrated into pain management.

For a long time, medical educators have been recommending teaching people how to live with pain. Managing pain requires that you understand the “biological processes that are thought to underpin pain as a mechanism to reduce pain itself” (Journal of pain, 2015). Alternative medical practices that place significance on prevention have been available for thousands of years. Nowadays, the FDA is continuously lobbied by doctors such as naturopaths, chiropractors, and acupuncturists to place more emphasis on alternative pain management in their medical education programs. The spotlight does not need to move onto other medicines. Rather, the spotlight needs to shine larger to include practices that focus on prevention and natural healing. In 2016 the FDA was in the process of changing the blueprints for educating medical professionals.

There is a lot to gain by using a variety of medical practices that help you focus on prevention and healing to reduce the pain of injury and illness. Your body heals itself. A better understanding of what causes pain will help you create a dynamic program to place priority on naturally healing the cause of the pain with the supplemental help of conventional medical practice.

Medical cannabis is going to change sports medicine

The NFL is filled with athletes who entertain us with their seemingly superhuman talent. The speed, agility, and strength demonstrated by athletes have a media platforms dedicated to highlights of their incredible athleticism. What isn’t as popular about professional athletes is the lifetime of pain that follows their career. After retirement, athletes are turning to the healing qualities of medical cannabis to manage the pain of cumulative injuries like compression fractures.

An athlete’s dedication to their craft extends beyond the field. Retirement for athletes is a transition from daily training to daily pain management. Retired athletes can use medical cannabis. For now, however, cannabis may not be used for healing and prevention by current players.

Dr. Allen Sills, The board-certified chief medical officer for the NFL, believes it to be important to study cannabis for the benefit of athletes. Dr. Sills understands the intensity of neuropathic pain, and he appears to appears to have opened the doors of negotiations between the league and the NFL Players Association to research medical cannabis. This is great news for everyone. The influence of the NFL on medical cannabis use could be a catalyst for increased understanding of how it can be used for pain management.

Read more about the use of cannabis to treat migraines here: How To Get Rid Of A Migraine: Piercings, Essential Oils, and Weed

Editorial Staff
Editorial Staff
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