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Medical Marijuana

Medical Marijuana Treatment for Pain Management

At Spine Institute of North America, our goal is to relieve your pain and revive your life. Our physicians travel the globe looking for cutting edge treatments that will address your spinal issues and bring much-needed relief. However, there is a treatment you may have heard of that’s a lot closer to home — medical marijuana. We now offer cannabis medication as a pain management technique for patients who qualify.

While medical marijuana remains a controversial topic throughout the U.S., New Jersey’s Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act has made it a legal treatment option for qualified candidates. We are registered with the state to approve this treatment if it’s clinically indicated.

Read on to find out more about using medical marijuana as a viable and effective pain medication.

The Use of Medical Marijuana

Medical marijuana has many names, such as medical cannabis, medical weed and medical pot. They all refer to a plant-based medication derived from the Cannabis sativa or Cannabis indica species of marijuana.

The history of using cannabis for medicinal purposes goes back thousands of years. Ancient cultures in China, Egypt, India and Greece used it as a treatment for a variety of maladies. In fact, before marijuana was made illegal in 1937, American physicians used it as a sleep aid, anti-convulsive, analgesic and more.

The active ingredients in marijuana are what give the plant its medical potency — these chemicals are called cannabinoids. While there are dozens of cannabinoids found in the marijuana plant, most physicians focus on two major compounds that contribute to the plant’s medical properties — THC and CBD.

Cannabinoids are what make marijuana for pain an effective treatment. However, the effects and effectiveness will differ depending on the cannabinoid composition of a medical marijuana treatment. Tetrahydrocannabinol or THC is what gives the plant its psychoactive side effects. Cannabidiol or CBD, on the other hand, has many medicinal uses while not causing users to get “high.”

 

How Does Medical Cannabis Work?

The cannabinoids or chemical compounds secreted by the cannabis flower are what makes medical marijuana an effective treatment for a variety of maladies, including chronic pain. While researchers are unsure how many cannabinoids are found in the plant, they’ve identified at least 85 separate compounds, many of which have medicinal value.

Cannabinoids for pain relief, such as CBD and THC, imitate compounds naturally produced by the human body. These endocannabinoids help stabilize a variety of bodily systems and impact your overall health. Their main job is to help cells communicate with each other. Adverse symptoms can arise when your body is experiencing disease, or there is a deficiency or problem with the endocannabinoid system.

Marijuana cannabinoids bind to endocannabinoid receptors found throughout your brain and body. Depending on the cannabinoid profile of a certain medical marijuana treatment, you can find effective relief for a variety of adverse symptoms.

Many patients struggling with chronic pain from a musculoskeletal condition find that medical marijuana pain management helps them more effectively manage their symptoms.

Who Is a Candidate for Medical Marijuana Treatment?

Candidacy for medical marijuana treatment varies from state to state. Your doctor cannot just prescribe cannabis-based medications. You must first become a patient in New Jersey’s medical marijuana program. The doctors at Spine Institute of North America can evaluate your condition to determine if your painful symptoms qualify you for medical marijuana treatment.

The debilitating medical diagnoses approved under the New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act include:

  • Chronic pain related to musculoskeletal disorders
  • Chronic pain of visceral origin
  • Lou Gehrig’s disease or ALS
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Terminal illness with a prognosis of 12 months or less
  • Muscular dystrophy
  • Severe migraines
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Anxiety
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Tourette’s syndrome
  • Opioid use disorder
  • HIV, AIDS and cancer accompanied by chronic pain, serve nausea, vomiting or wasting syndrome

Some patients do not respond to conventional medical therapies. For those who fall under this category, the following conditions may also be approved for medical marijuana treatment:

  • Glaucoma
  • Seizure disorders, such as epilepsy
  • Intractable skeletal muscular spasticity

What do we do?

Providing a thorough diagnosis to know the cause of your pain

Using the least invasive procedure that will relieve your pain quickly

Providing effective follow-up to ensure fast recovery

Ensuring that you remain fit so that you can enjoy long-term relief from pain

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Things to Be Aware of Before Using Medical Cannabis

How Cannabis Use Impacts Day to Day Life

There are different strains of medical marijuana. The main classifications you usually find are sativa, indica and high CBD strains. Depending on which strain you choose will affect how cannabis impacts your everyday life.

  • Sativa marijuana strains have more stimulating side effects, making them better for day time use. However, because many are high in THC, they can make you feel intoxicated.
  • Indica is preferred by patients who need to relax or sleep better at night, as this strain generally causes intense relaxation.
  • High CBD strains can treat a variety of medical conditions with little to no psychoactive side effects.

Cannabis Medication Delivery Methods

While most people associate marijuana with smoking, you can use cannabis medications in many different ways. Dosing is not a precise science and varies depending on the patient, preparation and delivery method.

Before choosing how you would like to use your medical marijuana treatment, talk to your doctor at Spine Institute of North America. There are several ways to consume cannabis, including options far healthier than smoking. Some of the most common delivery methods you can choose from include:

  • Topical medications
  • Edibles and teas
  • Oil capsules
  • Vapor
  • Tinctures

Potential Side Effects and Risks Associated With Medical Marijuana

Cannabis, like any medical treatment, has potential side effects and risks associated with its use. Effects tend to vary depending on what type of strain you medicate with. However, the most common side effects include:

  • Dry mouth
  • Euphoria
  • Confusion
  • Dizziness
  • Sedation
  • Nausea

When using sativa strains, patients sometimes experience mild anxiety, paranoia or panic attacks. Indica strains, on the other hand, can lead to a depressed mood or feeling unmotivated.

Some of the potential risks of marijuana use include a raised heart rate, increasing the risk of a heart attack in those already prone. Smoking cannabis is associated with breathing issues, cough and the risk of lung infection.

Even when used medicinally, marijuana can be addicting. So, patients should only use treatments as directed by their doctor.

NJ State Laws About Medical Marijuana

Federal law has classified marijuana as a Schedule I drug. This means that the drug does not have any accepted medical use and also has a high potential for addiction and abuse. This is why your doctor cannot just write you a prescription for medical marijuana. However, each state is allowed to determine whether cannabis can treat medical conditions.

In 2010, New Jersey’s state government approved and established The New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act. This removed criminal penalties on a state-level for those approved to use and possess medical cannabis.

You must be accepted into the state’s medical-marijuana program to receive medical marijuana treatments in New Jersey. Then you have to apply for an identification card issued by the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services that allows you to purchase and use medical cannabis. However, the law states that patients can only obtain a limited amount of marijuana from state-monitored dispensaries. Patients physically unable to obtain their own cannabis treatment can designate a registered caregiver to assist them.

In 2019, the New Jersey State Assembly and the Senate voted in favor of a bill that expanded access to qualifying patients. It also removed several common barriers related to obtaining medical marijuana treatments.

How to Become A Medical Marijuana Patient in New Jersey

If you feel that your medical condition qualifies you to become a medical marijuana patient in New Jersey, there are a few steps to go through first. You can make an appointment at Spine Institute of North America if you would like help understanding this process.

  • You must be a New Jersey state resident with proof of residency. This could be your state-issued ID card or another government-issued ID along with proof of residency such as a bank statement or bill.
  • You must have an established, bonafide relationship with a doctor who is registered with the state to recommend medical marijuana treatment. Doctors at Spine Institute of North America are approved by the state as recommending physicians.
  • Your doctor must diagnose you with one of the qualifying debilitating medical conditions.
  • Once your physician has certified your condition, you must register with New Jersey’s Medicinal Marijuana Program. You can complete this process online, and it includes a fee.

Find Out How We Can Treat Your Chronic Pain at Spine Institute of North America

If you’ve been experiencing pain for some time, you can count on the team at Spine Institute of North America to find a pain management solution that works for you.

If pain is impacting your life and keeping you from doing the things you love, schedule your appointment with one of our highly trained and compassionate physicians. Medical marijuana is just one of the minimally invasive treatments we may recommend, so you can get back to living your life to the fullest.

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