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Chronic Neuropathic Pain

Chronic neuropathic pain is a complex and persistent form of pain resulting from damage to or dysfunction of the nervous system. This type of pain can arise from various conditions, including nerve injuries, diabetes, stroke, multiple sclerosis, and shingles. Neuropathic pain is often described as burning, shooting, or tingling sensations, and it can be challenging to treat effectively using conventional pain relief methods. The management of chronic neuropathic pain typically involves a combination of pharmacological treatments, physical therapy, and psychological support. In recent years, alternative therapies such as medical marijuana have also been explored to help alleviate symptoms and improve patients’ quality of life.

What is Chronic Neuropathic Pain

Chronic neuropathic pain is a long-lasting and complex type of pain that arises due to damage or dysfunction in the nervous system. This type of pain can be difficult to manage and often persists despite conventional pain relief methods.


The symptoms of chronic neuropathic pain can vary among individuals but generally include:

  • Burning, shooting, or stabbing pain
  • Tingling or numbness in the affected area
  • Hypersensitivity or allodynia (pain from stimuli that are not usually painful)
  • Electric shock-like sensations
  • Persistent or intermittent pain episodes
  • Weakness or loss of function in the affected area


Various conditions and factors can lead to chronic neuropathic pain, including:

  1. Nerve injuries: Trauma, surgery, or compression can damage nerves and cause neuropathic pain.
  2. Diabetes: Diabetic neuropathy is a common complication of diabetes that can result in nerve damage and chronic pain.
  3. Viral infections: Infections like shingles and HIV can affect the nervous system and cause neuropathic pain.
  4. Neurological disorders: Conditions such as multiple sclerosis, stroke, and Parkinson’s disease can lead to nerve damage and chronic pain.
  5. Cancer and cancer treatments: Tumors can compress nerves, and some cancer treatments, like chemotherapy, can cause nerve damage and neuropathic pain.


Preventing chronic neuropathic pain depends on addressing the underlying causes and risk factors. Some general measures include:

  1. Managing chronic conditions: Properly managing conditions like diabetes can help prevent or reduce the progression of nerve damage and related pain.
  2. Injury prevention: Taking precautions to avoid injury or trauma can help protect nerves from damage.
  3. Healthy lifestyle: Regular exercise, a balanced diet, and maintaining a healthy weight can support overall nerve health and reduce the risk of developing chronic neuropathic pain.
  4. Early intervention: Seeking medical attention promptly when experiencing new or unusual pain can help identify potential nerve issues early and prevent further damage.

It is essential to consult with a healthcare professional for proper diagnosis and treatment options if you suspect you suffer from chronic neuropathic pain. They can help tailor a treatment plan that may include medications, physical therapy, and lifestyle modifications to manage your condition effectively.

Medical Marijuana as a Treatment for Chronic Neuropathic Pain

Medical marijuana, or medical cannabis, refers to the use of the Cannabis plant and its components (cannabinoids) to treat various medical conditions or alleviate symptoms, including chronic neuropathic pain.

How does medical marijuana help with chronic neuropathic pain?

Medical marijuana has shown promise in managing some aspects of chronic neuropathic pain:

  1. Pain relief: Both THC and CBD, the primary cannabinoids in cannabis, have analgesic properties that may help reduce neuropathic pain.
  2. Anti-inflammatory effects: CBD and other cannabinoids possess anti-inflammatory properties, which could potentially address inflammation-related pain.
  3. Sleep improvement: Medical marijuana may improve sleep quality, helping individuals with chronic neuropathic pain get adequate rest and recover better.
  4. Mood regulation: Medical marijuana can help alleviate anxiety and depression, which are often associated with chronic pain conditions.

Cannabinoids and Terpenes for Chronic Neuropathic Pain

In addition to major cannabinoids like THC and CBD, there are other minor cannabinoids and terpenes found in cannabis plants that may have potential benefits for managing chronic neuropathic pain.

Which cannabinoids and terpenes are most effective for chronic neuropathic pain?

  1. Cannabidiol (CBD): CBD is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid with demonstrated analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties that can help alleviate neuropathic pain and inflammation.
  2. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC): THC is a psychoactive compound known for its pain-relieving properties, making it effective in managing neuropathic pain.
  3. Beta-caryophyllene: This terpene acts on the same receptors as CBD, offering potential anti-inflammatory and analgesic benefits for patients with neuropathic pain.
  4. Myrcene: Myrcene is a terpene with sedative and muscle-relaxant properties, which may help alleviate pain and promote relaxation in individuals with chronic neuropathic pain.

It’s important to note that research on specific cannabinoids and terpenes for chronic neuropathic pain is still limited, and more studies are needed to determine their safety and efficacy. If you are considering using medical marijuana to manage chronic neuropathic pain symptoms, it is essential to consult with a healthcare professional who is knowledgeable about medical cannabis. They can help you determine the most appropriate treatment plan and monitor your progress to ensure the safe and effective use of medical marijuana for your specific needs.

Dosage and Consumption Methods

Recommended dosage:

Figuring out the right dose of medical marijuana can be hard because people’s reactions to cannabinoids and terpenes can be very different. Factors such as the specific condition being treated, the patient’s weight, metabolism, and prior experience with cannabis all play a role in determining the right dosage.
Most of the time, it is best to start with a low dose and slowly increase it until you get the effects you want while minimising any possible side effects. For patients who are new to medical marijuana, starting with 2.5–5 mg of THC or CBD and slowly titrating upwards is often advised.

However, consulting a healthcare professional experienced in medical marijuana is essential to developing a personalised dosing plan tailored to the patient’s needs.

Consumption methods:

There are several methods of consuming medical marijuana, each with its advantages and disadvantages. Some common consumption methods include:

  1. Inhalation (smoking or vaping): Inhalation provides rapid onset of effects, usually within minutes, making it suitable for patients requiring immediate relief. However, smoking may pose respiratory risks, while vaping has been associated with lung injuries in some cases.
  2. Oral ingestion (edibles, capsules, tinctures): Ingesting medical marijuana provides longer-lasting effects compared to inhalation but has a slower onset, typically taking 30 minutes to 2 hours for effects to be felt. This method is suitable for patients requiring sustained relief but may require careful dosing to avoid overconsumption.
  3. Topical application (creams, balms, patches): Topicals can provide localized relief for conditions such as arthritis or skin disorders without producing psychoactive effects. The onset of action and duration of effects can vary depending on the product formulation and individual absorption rates.
  4. Sublingual administration (tinctures, dissolvable strips): Sublingual products are absorbed through the mucous membranes under the tongue, providing rapid onset of effects without the need for inhalation or ingestion. This method offers discreet consumption and precise dosing.

Obtaining a Medical Marijuana Card

Why get a medical marijuana card?

Getting a medical marijuana card is helpful for patients who are looking for other ways to treat their conditions.

  1. Legal protection: A medical marijuana card allows patients to possess, use, and in some cases, cultivate cannabis for medical purposes, within their state’s legal limits.
  2. Access to quality products: Medical marijuana dispensaries offer a wide range of tested and regulated cannabis products, ensuring patients receive safe and effective medication.
  3. Tax savings: In some states, medical marijuana patients are exempt from certain taxes applied to recreational cannabis sales.
  4. Professional guidance: Medical marijuana cardholders have access to healthcare professionals who can provide personalized recommendations, dosing advice, and ongoing support.

How to apply:

The process of obtaining a medical marijuana card varies by state but generally involves the following steps:

  1. Consult with marijuana evaluators to determine if medical marijuana is appropriate for your condition and obtain a written recommendation.
  2. Complete an application with the required documentation, including proof of residency, identification, and the healthcare professional’s recommendation.
  3. Submit the application to the appropriate state agency, along with any required fees.
  4. Await approval and issuance of the medical marijuana card.

Risks and Side Effects

Potential risks:

While medical marijuana can offer relief and improve the quality of life for many patients, it also carries certain risks and side effects. Some potential risks associated with medical marijuana use include:

  1. Dependency and addiction: Although the risk of addiction is considered lower than that of opioids or alcohol, some individuals may develop a dependency on cannabis.
  2. Impaired cognitive function: THC, the primary psychoactive compound in cannabis, can impair memory, attention, and reaction times, particularly with prolonged or heavy use.
  3. Respiratory issues: Smoking cannabis can cause respiratory problems, including bronchitis and lung irritation. Vaping has also been linked to lung injuries in some cases.
  4. Mental health concerns: High doses of THC or predisposition to mental health disorders can lead to increased anxiety, paranoia, or exacerbate existing mental health conditions.
  5. Drug interactions: Medical marijuana may interact with other medications, either enhancing or diminishing their effects. It is essential to discuss potential drug interactions with a healthcare professional before starting medical marijuana therapy.


Medical marijuana might not be right for every patient, especially those who already have certain health problems or risk factors. Contraindications to medical marijuana use may include:

  1. Personal or family history of substance abuse or addiction
  2. Severe liver or kidney disease
  3. Severe cardiovascular disease
  4. Pregnancy or breastfeeding
  5. History of psychosis or other severe mental health disorders
  6. Allergies or hypersensitivity to cannabis or its components

Legal Status

Where is it legal?

In the United States, the laws about medical marijuana are always changing. Currently, over 30 states and the District of Columbia allow its use under certain conditions. Each state has its own rules and a list of medical conditions that are allowed to use medical marijuana.

Even though some states have made medical marijuana legal, it is still illegal at the federal level because it is a Schedule I substance under the Controlled Substances Act.

This difference between state and federal laws can make it harder for medical marijuana patients to get jobs, find housing, or travel across state lines, among other things. Patients should research their state’s guidelines and remain aware of potential legal risks.


Medical marijuana could help relieve symptoms and improve the quality of life for many people with long-term or debilitating illnesses.

When thinking about this treatment option, it’s important to know the right dose, how to use it, how to get a medical marijuana card, possible risks, side effects, and legal status.

Work closely with a doctor or nurse who knows a lot about medical marijuana to find out if it is a good and safe choice for your needs.

As the legal landscape surrounding medical marijuana continues to evolve, staying informed about changing regulations and guidelines is essential to ensuring responsible and compliant use.

As the field of medical marijuana continues to evolve, it’s crucial for patients, caregivers, and healthcare providers to stay informed about the latest research and developments. This guide aims to provide a comprehensive overview of the current landscape, but it’s always important to consult with healthcare providers for personalized advice.

Note: This article’s content is provided for educational purposes only. This information is not intended to serve as a substitute for professional legal or medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or queries regarding laws, regulations, or your health, you should always consult a lawyer, physician, or other licensed practitioner.