4ee41ce9c9b1df6dc9b8d4699166aa4710cd0d73 Why Do So Many Chronic Pain Patients Medicaid With Cannabis | Healththerphynews.com
Tue. Apr 9th, 2024
Chronic Pain Patients Medicaid With Cannabis
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A study published in 2019 showed that the majority of medical cannabis users rely on cannabis to treat chronic pain. Little has changed in the nearly five years since that study was published. Millions of chronic pain patients around the country continued to medicate with cannabis. The question is, why?

It is an especially intriguing question due to the many and conflicting studies looking at cannabis efficacy as a pain reliever. A notable study published in late 2022 declared that cannabis performs no better than placebo in relieving pain. More recent studies have shown just the opposite. Yet none of the studies answer the fundamental question of why.

Think of the Options

Understanding the mindset of a chronic pain patient who chooses to use cannabis is rooted in understanding the other options. Imagine someone with chronic back pain severe enough to be debilitating. That person barely leaves the house. Physical activity is nearly nonexistent because moving is too painful. Traditional therapies recommended by most doctors would include:

  • Prescription painkillers.
  • Physical therapy.
  • Injection therapies.
  • Back surgery.

Now, imagine the patient in question has already had back surgery multiple times. The pain has only gotten worse. Also imagine that the patient does not want to continue taking prescription painkillers because of their addictive potential and the way they make the patient feel. Physical therapy is out of the question and the remaining options only provide temporary relief.

It boils down to this: where does a chronic pain patient go when all the other therapies have failed? Many of them have turned to medical cannabis.

In Search of Relief

The operators of Salt Lake City’s Beehive Farmacy say that chronic pain is the most common condition for which Utah patients take medical cannabis. Among the roughly 81,000 active medical cannabis cardholders in the state, more than 63,000 are chronic pain patients. Beehive Farmacy says these patients ultimately applied for their cards in a desperate search for relief.

It is hard to imagine why a person would choose medical cannabis over more traditional therapies if you have never experienced severe and persistent pain. Technically, chronic pain is any type of pain felt either daily or almost daily for more than three months. But many of the people turning to medical cannabis left that three-month threshold in the dust a long time ago.

These are people who have been dealing with chronic pain for years. They have tried prescription narcotics and physical therapy. Some have even gone under the knife. The one thing they all have in common is ongoing pain despite the best efforts of their doctors to offer them relief.

Relief at Any Cost

While some people can deal with pain fairly well, others can’t. Pain is a very personal thing in terms of both experience and tolerance. It is unlike any other symptom known to man. Therefore, it is not appropriate to apply blanket approaches or one-size-fits-all treatments to managing chronic pain. It just doesn’t work that way.

There are certainly exceptions to the medical cannabis rule. But by and large, chronic pain sufferers who turn to cannabis are at a point in their lives where they are willing to try anything. They want relief at any cost.

A majority of legal medical cannabis users rely on the drug to manage chronic pain. Some say cannabis only works to relieve pain by way of the placebo effect. Others say it relieves pain by manipulating the human endocannabinoid system. I am willing to bet that most chronic pain patients don’t care what the actual mechanism is. They only care about relief.

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