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The link between the easing of fibromyalgia symptoms and cannabis use

Fibromyalgia is a condition that, to date, experts have still not managed to fathom. According to the BBC, it manifests in the form of muscle aches and pains, as well as fatigue. Some patients describe it as a shooting pain and many become hypersensitive to pain, particularly in the affected areas, which are usually around the joints and around the neck. Those symptoms are also accompanied by difficulty in sleeping, numbness and tingling, as well as problems with memory. There is no inflammation as in arthritis.

The problem is that experts don’t know why certain people end up with the symptoms of fibromyalgia, nor have they yet found drugs that can cure, or even control the condition. Even identifying fibromyalgia is not without its difficulties, because many of the symptoms are similar to those of other conditions. Nevertheless, the BBC states that one in forty people have been diagnosed as suffering from fibromyalgia.

The use of medicinal cannabis to relieve pain has been well-documented and it is perhaps no surprise to read the results of a Canadian study, which suggests that one out of every eight people with fibromyalgia uses medicinal cannabis to ease their pain. The condition is usually treated with pain medication, antidepressants and physical therapy, but there is no ‘miracle drug’ and many sufferers are left to cope with the pain on their own.

According to an MSNBC article, the study was carried out by researchers at McGill University Health Center. They looked at the records of 457 patients who were admitted with fibromyalgia symptoms, although only about 300 had a primary diagnosis of fibromyalgia. Of the 457, about 10 percent admitted that they smoked marijuana for medical purposes. On top of that, another 3 percent “had a prescription for a synthetic form of the active chemical in the cannabis plant.” It wasn’t, however, possible to tell which of the 13 percent had already been taking marijuana before their fibromyalgia symptoms started.

The question the researchers now need to research is whether the marijuana really helps with the symptoms, or if it is just covering them up. A point of concern is that those patients with mental health issues were more likely to use the drug.

This is not the first study to investigate the link between fibromyalgia and cannabis use. According to the results of a Spanish study published in the science journal PLoS ONE, “the use of cannabis was associated with beneficial effects on some FM symptoms.”

For those suffering from fibromyalgia who are willing to try anything they can to ease the pain, the research that still needs to be done cannot come quickly enough. Hopefully, each study that takes place will contribute a little more information towards a potential cure.