Chronic pain is the most frequent reason for patients to visit Nature’s Way Medicine for a medical marijuana evaluation with our doctors. These patients have failed treatments like surgeries, injections, and highly addictive opioid narcotics like oxycodone, Percocet and Vicodin. Some have become dependent on these medications and seek a last resort out of desperation.
Mechanism of Action
Medical marijuana alleviates pain by affecting the nerves that run into and out of the spinal cord. It is in this region of the body that pain signals are moderated by “interneurons” responsible for modifying the sensations we feel. There, the signals are either suppressed or intensified. This allows the brain better ability to sense the importance of sensory signals when they continue to arrive for days and weeks without stopping. For example, despite being able to feel our clothes on us at any time, the signals sent by the sensory nerves responsible for sending that sensation to our brain are suppressed. If we didn’t have these ways of clearing data input, we would be overwhelmed by the information and wouldn’t know what’s important and what isn’t.
Inappropriate Chronic Pain Signals
When pain signals relentlessly bombard the brain, the body suppresses the signals of that pain so the mind can focus on other activities. Sometimes, the opposite happens and that’s when there are big problems. Some people respond to chronic pain by intensifying the signals over the time. The interneurons responsible for suppressing and intensifying various signals to the brain inappropriately increase the magnitude of chronic pain sensations sent to the brain. As time goes on, the pain gets worse instead of less so it can finally be ignored.
How Medical Marijuana Works
Patients receive relief when they inhale or consume medical marijuana because it resets the interneurons mentioned earlier to their default value. The signals sent to the brain about pain stop being magnified and return to their usual state. Then, the body can once again decide how it will handle the pain and has the option to diminish it over time.
The body is allowed a moment to conclude, “Ah ha! This pain I’ve felt has been here for years so we don’t have to make such a big deal out of it anymore.”