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Spinal cord injury

Spinal cord injury (SCI) is a traumatic condition that can result in permanent damage to the spinal cord, leading to loss of sensation, movement, and function below the level of the injury. SCI can be caused by various factors, including trauma, disease, and age-related degeneration. The symptoms and severity of SCI vary depending on the location and extent of the injury. There is currently no cure for SCI, but treatments are available to manage symptoms and improve overall quality of life. Understanding the causes, symptoms, and available treatment options is essential for managing SCI effectively and improving the long-term outcomes for those affected by this condition.

What is Spinal Cord Injury?

Spinal cord injury (SCI) is a traumatic condition that can result in permanent damage to the spinal cord, leading to loss of sensation, movement, and function below the level of the injury.


The symptoms of SCI depend on the location and extent of the injury. Some common symptoms include:

  1. Loss of sensation or movement
  2. Numbness or tingling
  3. Muscle weakness or paralysis
  4. Difficulty breathing or coughing
  5. Loss of bladder or bowel control
  6. Pain or discomfort
  7. Spasms or involuntary muscle contractions
  8. Sexual dysfunction


SCI can be caused by various factors, including:

  1. Trauma: The most common cause of SCI is trauma, such as motor vehicle accidents, falls, and sports injuries.
  2. Disease: Conditions such as cancer, infections, and degenerative diseases can also cause SCI.
  3. Age-related degeneration: As people age, their spinal cords can degenerate, leading to SCI.


Some ways to prevent SCI include:

  1. Practicing safe driving habits, such as wearing seat belts and avoiding distracted driving.
  2. Taking precautions during sports or recreational activities, such as wearing protective gear and following safety guidelines.
  3. Using proper equipment and techniques when lifting heavy objects.
  4. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle, including regular exercise, a balanced diet, and avoiding smoking and excessive alcohol consumption.

It is crucial for individuals with SCI to work closely with healthcare professionals to develop a comprehensive treatment plan tailored to their specific needs and circumstances. Early intervention and proper management are crucial for improving overall well-being and quality of life for those affected by SCI.

Medical Marijuana as a Treatment for Spinal Cord Injury

Medical marijuana has shown promise in managing symptoms associated with spinal cord injury (SCI), such as chronic pain, muscle spasms, and sleep disturbances. It may contribute to improving the overall quality of life for individuals with SCI.

How does medical marijuana help?

Medical marijuana may aid in managing SCI symptoms through the following mechanisms:

  1. Pain relief: Medical marijuana can provide pain relief, reducing discomfort associated with SCI.
  2. Muscle relaxation: Medical marijuana can provide muscle relaxation, reducing muscle spasms and stiffness associated with SCI.
  3. Sleep improvement: Medical marijuana can aid in improving sleep quality, which is often disrupted in individuals with SCI.

Cannabinoids and Terpenes for Spinal Cord Injury

Some cannabinoids that may be effective in addressing symptoms related to SCI include:

  1. THC (tetrahydrocannabinol): THC can provide pain relief and muscle relaxation. However, it is essential to use low doses and monitor its psychoactive side effects, such as increased anxiety or cognitive impairment.
  2. CBD (cannabidiol): CBD has demonstrated potential benefits in reducing pain and inflammation without the psychoactive effects of THC.

Some terpenes that may help in managing SCI symptoms include:

  1. Myrcene: Myrcene has muscle relaxant and anti-inflammatory properties, which could potentially aid in managing pain and inflammation associated with SCI.
  2. Caryophyllene: Caryophyllene has pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory properties, which could potentially aid in managing chronic pain associated with SCI.

It is essential to consult with a healthcare professional experienced in cannabinoid medicine when considering medical marijuana as a treatment for managing SCI symptoms. They can help determine the appropriate strains, ratios of cannabinoids, and dosages tailored to an individual’s specific needs and circumstances. Further research is needed to fully understand the long-term effects and efficacy of medical marijuana in managing SCI symptoms. It is also important to note that medical marijuana should not be considered a substitute for conventional treatments prescribed by a healthcare provider.

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 420 doctors 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.