A1 Marijuana Doctors Logo

Complex Regional Pain

Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) is a chronic pain condition that can affect any part of the body but typically affects the limbs. It is characterized by severe, constant pain that may be accompanied by swelling, changes in skin color or temperature, and sensitivity to touch or cold. The exact cause of CRPS is unknown, but it is believed to be caused by dysfunction of the nervous system. There is no cure for CRPS, but treatment options are available to manage symptoms and improve quality of life for those with the condition. Early diagnosis and intervention can help improve outcomes for individuals with complex regional pain syndrome.

What is Complex Regional Pain Syndrome

Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) is a chronic pain condition that can affect any part of the body but typically affects the limbs.


The symptoms of complex regional pain syndrome may vary depending on the stage and severity of the condition, but common signs include:

  • Severe, constant pain
  • Swelling and stiffness in the affected area
  • Changes in skin color or temperature
  • Sensitivity to touch or cold
  • Muscle spasms and weakness
  • Limited mobility
  • Abnormal sweating or hair growth


The exact cause of complex regional pain syndrome is unknown, but it is believed to be caused by dysfunction of the nervous system. Some potential causes include:

  1. Injury or trauma: CRPS may develop after an injury or trauma to the affected area, such as a fracture or sprain.
  2. Surgery: CRPS may develop after surgery or medical procedures involving the affected area.
  3. Nervous system dysfunction: CRPS may be caused by dysfunction of the nervous system, which can lead to abnormal pain processing and inflammation.


Currently, there are no known prevention strategies for complex regional pain syndrome, as the underlying cause of the disease is not fully understood. However, early diagnosis and intervention can help manage symptoms and improve outcomes for individuals with CRPS.

If you suspect you have complex regional pain syndrome or are experiencing symptoms, consult with a healthcare professional for proper diagnosis and treatment options. They can help develop a personalized treatment plan to manage CRPS symptoms effectively and improve your overall quality of life.

Medical Marijuana as a Treatment for Complex Regional 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 complex regional pain syndrome.

How does medical marijuana help?

While research on medical marijuana’s effectiveness in treating complex regional pain syndrome is still limited, it may help manage some of the symptoms associated with this condition:

  1. Pain relief: Medical marijuana can provide pain relief, which could benefit individuals experiencing severe and constant pain associated with CRPS.
  2. Muscle relaxation: Medical marijuana may help relax muscles, which could improve mobility and reduce muscle spasms in individuals with CRPS.
  3. Anti-inflammatory effects: Medical marijuana has anti-inflammatory properties that may help reduce inflammation in the affected area and improve symptoms of CRPS.

Cannabinoids and Terpenes for Complex Regional Pain Syndrome

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 complex regional pain syndrome symptoms.

Which cannabinoids and terpenes are most effective?

  1. Cannabidiol (CBD): CBD is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid with demonstrated anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties, making it a potential treatment option for individuals with complex regional pain syndrome.
  2. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC): THC is a psychoactive compound known for its pain-relieving and muscle-relaxing properties, making it effective in managing various symptoms of complex regional pain syndrome.
  3. Beta-Caryophyllene: Beta-Caryophyllene is a terpene with potential anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties, which may help reduce inflammation and pain associated with CRPS.
  4. Myrcene: Myrcene is a terpene with potential anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties, which may help reduce inflammation and pain associated with complex regional pain syndrome.

It’s important to note that research on the use of medical marijuana for complex regional pain syndrome is still limited, and more studies are needed to determine its safety and efficacy. If you are considering using medical marijuana to manage CRPS 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 localised 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 personalised 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 a marijuana treatment specialists 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.