You wince in pain when a light summer breeze hits your neck or the fabric from loose clothing brushes against your leg. No matter how much you sleep, you wake up feeling exhausted – sometimes your skin feels like it’s sunburned and other times you feel a deep, debilitating ache that makes the smallest tasks an impossible feat. This is fibromyalgia.
Individuals living with it know all too well how life altering this condition can be. If your doctor has diagnosed you or someone you know with fibromyalgia, you may wonder what this condition is, how it’s treated, and whether cannabis can help.
Fibromyalgia affects the brain’s reaction to nerve signals that indicate pain. People experience lasting, widespread pain, especially in the muscles, tendons and joints. That pain can also cause fatigue, trouble sleeping, difficulty remembering certain things, and problems with mood stability.
While people with fibromyalgia may experience pain differently, the most common reports of pain include increased sensitivity in the neck and shoulders, arms, back, hips and various points along the legs.
Fibromyalgia often sets in after severe distress on the body, including psychological trauma, but the exact cause is currently unknown. Prolonged stress and tension are thought to play a role, as symptoms of this condition typically set in after distress has already set off other physical reactions to continuous, ongoing stress.
However, other people develop fibromyalgia after a severe illness or infection. Still, there are others who develop this condition without any apparent traumatic cause.
Fibromyalgia might be hereditary, but further genetic research is ongoing. Studies also suggest that women may be more likely to develop it than men, especially during the middle-age years, but this condition can affect anyone at just about any life stage.
Individuals with existing osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus or ankylosing spondylitis (a form of arthritis that affects the spine) may have a higher risk of developing fibromyalgia, though it’s not considered an autoimmune or inflammation-centric condition.
If the doctor believes you may have fibromyalgia, he or she will perform several tests to determine where you’re experiencing pain and sensitivity to rule out other conditions. He or she will ask about is whether you’ve experienced widespread pain that has persisted for at least three months. Your doctor may also order one or more blood tests to make sure you don’t have another condition with overlapping symptoms.
There’s no cure for fibromyalgia, but your doctor may recommend certain medications to help manage the symptoms. Medications frequently recommended to fibromyalgia patients include pain medications (over-the-counter like acetaminophen and prescription non-narcotic pain relievers), antidepressants, and sleep aids.
In addition to over-the-counter and prescription pharmaceuticals, some individuals with fibromyalgia also turn to cannabis in an attempt to manage some of their symptoms.
Though a number of states allow doctors to recommend medical cannabis for chronic pain symptoms, only a handful explicitly consider fibromyalgia to be a qualifying condition. This includes the following states:
- North Dakota
If you live in one of these five and your doctor has diagnosed you with fibromyalgia, you may be eligible for medical cannabis – but you’ll need a written recommendation first. You may also be eligible if you’ve been diagnosed with fibromyalgia and live in a state that considers chronic pain to be a qualifying condition. Talk to your doctor about using cannabis as a part of your ongoing fibromyalgia treatment plan and discover if it’s right for you.
Relieving pain, coping with stress and sleeping well are important for fibromyalgia patients as these factors tend compliment fatigue, cognitive struggles, anxiety and depression.
Though the medical community remains divided on cannabis’ medical efficacy, several select studies offer optimistic results. A 2016 report by German researchers suggests that naturally occurring cannabinoids found in cannabis may help fibromyalgia patients cope with pain, inflammation and stress. This is an important consideration, as some medical experts believe prolonged stress may contribute to developing fibromyalgia in some individuals.
Studies also suggest that cannabis may be able to help fibromyalgia patients experience less stiffness, better sleep, and a general improvement in well being. Periods of relaxation appear to be an important component to manage overall wellness and improve flaring up symptoms.
Another study that tracked cannabis use across a sample pool of 26 fibromyalgia patients found all participants experienced significant improvements in symptom management and overall quality of life. Half of the participants stopped taking their prescribed pharmaceutical medications altogether due cannabis’ relief. However, further large-scale clinical studies are required.
If you live in a state that considers fibromyalgia or its symptoms to be a qualifying condition and your doctor has written a recommendation, Nugg can help with the rest. Our specialized Cannabis Concierge service can share their extensive knowledge with you to help choose the cannabis products that are right for you. Their experts can even help locate dispensaries in your area! Let Nugg’s team of experts help find the relief you need today!
Disclaimer: This blog post is for informational purposes only. While the content is accurate and true to the best of our knowledge, the author is not a medical professional. There may be omissions, errors, and mistakes. Therefore, never solely rely on the information in this, or any other post on our site or affiliated sites, for medical advice. This post does not create a physician/patient relationship with any of Nugg or NuggMD’s affiliated staff or physicians.