Cannabis for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Nerve Pain
By Dana Smith
Carpal tunnel syndrome is a common type of neuropathic disorder characterized by numbness, tingling, nerve pain, and weakness in the hand. Carpal tunnel syndrome commonly affects working professionals whose jobs require them to do repetitive hand movements such as computer work, over long periods of time. Other common causes of carpal tunnel syndrome includes working at an assembly line, driving, sewing, writing, use of tools, sports such as handball and tennis, and playing some musical instruments. Carpal tunnel syndrome is most common people aged 30 to 60 years old, and is more common among females than males.
Repetitive hand movements results in continuous pressure on median nerves as it passes through the carpal tunnel, located in the wrist, into the fingers. In severe cases, carpal tunnel syndrome results in extreme pain due to extreme damage on the bone structure and soft tissues. In most cases, by the time people realize they have carpal tunnel syndrome it’s often already irreversible although treatment is available.
Treatment options for carpal tunnel syndrome are few and many patients don’t find any relief from conventional medicines. Surgery is looked at as the very last resort, but even then patients still experience severe pain over a long period of time due to healing. Doctors usually prescribe patients with steroids and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) although these can have uncomfortable side effects such as stomach pain, heart burn, bloat, diarrhea or constipation, gas, nausea, and vomiting.
How Can Cannabis Help?
Inflammation in carpal ligaments is responsible for the pain experienced by those with carpal tunnel syndrome. In the beginning, doctors may prescribe anti-inflammatory drugs and when more symptoms manifest themselves, they can prescribe opioids and pain medication but we all know that these drugs have debilitating side effects. Aside from being ineffective and producing unwanted side effects, some patients can also build up a tolerance to the medications. Steroids can’t be taken for too long because they can result in weak or even broken bones.
Many cannabis doctors are already aware of the proven benefits of cannabis for neuropathic pain. In fact, during the 2016 Foundation for Peripheral Neuropathy International Research Symposium, which was attended by some of the world’s leading neurologists and scientists who are ahead in neuropathic pain research, the Foundation dedicated 8 different presentations about medical marijuana and its ability to effectively treat neuropathic pain.
Cannabis has long been used to treat a variety of chronic neuropathic pain conditions including carpal tunnel syndrome. A study at McGill University revealed that participants with chronic neuropathic pain who smoked cannabis thrice daily for 5 days had a significant reduction in pain when compared to the participants who were given placebo treatments.
A 2007 study published in the journal Neurology, a study analyzing cannabis benefits on painful neuropathy caused by HIV through a placebo-controlled research. The study was conducted at the University of California, San Francisco, by Dr. Donald Abrams MD. The findings revealed that cannabis was effective in addressing neuropathic pain suffered by HIV patients.
Neurology published another study in 2014 entitled Systematic review: Efficacy and safety of medical cannabis in selected neurologic disorders. The study was conducted by American Academy of Neurology researchers. The review revealed that medical cannabis, even in the form of pills or oral sprays, were beneficial in treating muscle spasms and stiffness in patients of multiple sclerosis. Cannabis medications were also helpful in reducing symptoms of multiple sclerosis such as pain caused by spasms.
In March of 2016, the University of Michigan School of Public Health and Medical School found results from their research that led them to suggest that medical cannabis is a better alternative to some common prescription drugs.
Opioids are not beneficial in treating neuropathic pain and their side effects are well-documented. There is also a serious risk for developing an addiction to it or dying from an overdose. Despite this, it remains legal for doctors to continue prescribing them for patients of carpal tunnel syndrome and many other conditions. Cannabis, whether by ingesting it orally or by applying topically, can definitely address the pain and inflammation caused by carpal tunnel syndrome without any of the harmful side effects.