Cannabis-Related Emergency Room Visits Increase – Is it worth the risk for neck pain relief?

medical marijuana vaporiser neck pain reliefMany more American states legalized the use of cannabis for medical concerns like chronic neck pain in 2014, but new research shows that in those states where medical marijuana is legal, visits to the emergency room for cannabis-related crises have increased. The same study also found an overall increase in the use and misuse of cannabis as well, so is it worth the risk to use medical marijuana for neck pain relief?

50% Increase in Medical Marijuana ED Visits

Colorado was one of the first two states to legalize medical and recreational cannabis use and in this latest study emergency department visits involving cannabis use rose 50.4% in Colorado between 2007 and 2012. ED visits also rose in states where only medical use is legalized, with the largest increase in Hawaii, where visits related to cannabis rose by 55% from 2007 to 2012. New Jersey saw a 49.1% increase in visits, and Arizona had a 32% rise in the number of ED visits involving cannabis.

In some states where marijuana use remains illegal, even for medical purposes, there was also a significant increase in ED visits; in Texas, for example, there was a 43.2% increase in cannabis-related ED visits. In Oklahoma and South Carolina however, the increase was only 7.21% and 0.75%, which makes you wonder what’s going on in Texas.

The Cost of Cannabis for Pain Relief

The impact of cannabis on the health care system appears to be increasingly significant, with the author of this study, Dr. Rai, also presenting figures related to the costs of cannabis-related hospital stays. An average nationwide increase of 13.3% in cannabis-related hospital admissions was higher than that for alcohol abuse (8.6%), and the average hospital charge increased 39% for cannabis-related issues, compared to 29.5% for alcohol abuse. Interestingly, there was a 67.9% decrease in the percentage of visits related to cocaine use, but there was a 42% increase in visits related to opioids.

This is Not Your Mother’s Marijuana

One of the problems with cannabis is that there is such a wide variety available that users may be unaware of the strength and potential toxicity of their drug of choice. As well as the plant matter itself, cannabis oil and liquids have become popular, and there have even been incidents of serious explosions from home-based laboratories cooking up high-potency THC oil, which produces highly volatile gases.

Getting a prescription for medical marijuana may have become simpler in recent years, but with so many options available for users it is now increasingly complex to decide what product to choose and how to ingest it. This means that many people are ending up in the emergency room because they have taken too much and are overintoxicated.

This may be especially true for those who used marijuana recreationally in their youth and who are now using it medicinally some 30 or 40 years later, without appreciating that selective breeding of the plants has dramatically increased the level of THC and other active constituents. Essentially the cannabis now available is not that of the 70s, 80s or even the 90s. In fact, the authors of this study note that today’s cannabis is around four times as potent as cannabis of the 1970s.


Who Uses Medical Marijuana?

In a 2003 paper published in the journal Pain, Ware and colleagues reported that those surveyed who used cannabis for pain relief were more likely to be younger and to also use tobacco, and that the largest group of patients using cannabis did so for pain related to trauma and/or surgery. Some 68% of the patients were using cannabis to relieve neck pain or upper body pain, with 65% using it to treat myofascial pain (which can also involve neck pain).

The majority of these patients (53%) used 4 puffs per dose of cannabis for pain, 25% smoked a whole joint, and 12% smoked more than one joint at each dose. Most patients used it only on rare occasions (28%), 25% used it weekly, 16% used it daily, and 22% used it more than once a day for pain relief. The patients most often reported improvements in pain, sleep and mood with the use of the drug, with the most common side effects being feeling high and having dry-mouth.

Can Cannabis Relieve Neck Pain?

In a more recent study, patients with central and peripheral neuropathic pain were given vaporized cannabis at a 3.53% or 1.29% THC dose, or a placebo and their pain was assessed using a visual analog scale. Wilsey and colleagues also looked at any psychoactive side effects and the patients’ neuropsychological performance. The two active groups had no significant differences in analgesic response, and the number needed to treat was comparable in both cases to that of traditional medications for neuropathic pain.

Psychoactive effects were deemed to be minimal and reversed within 1 to 2 hours, suggesting that vaporized cannabis may be an effective option for relief of neuropathic pain resistant to other forms of treatment.

How Cannabis Helps with Chronic Pain

THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is the active pain-relieving cannabinoid in medical marijuana, but its psychoactive effects limit its use, as does the typical method of delivery (smoking). Other cannabinoids also have analgesic effects however, including oral doses of cannabidiol and beta-caryophyllene, which appear to have a higher level of safety and limited adverse effects.

These drugs act on the endocannabinoid system, including CB(1) receptors in the spinal cord which process and modulate nociceptive information. In addition, CB(2) receptors appear to be a primary cause of the anti-inflammatory effect of endocannabinoids, which also helps relieve pain locally. Specifically, these CB(2) receptors may affect mast cells and neutrophils (immune system cells), which then helps prevent pain related to an inflammatory response.

What these studies suggest is that there is evidence in support of the use of cannabis for relief of pain such as neuropathic neck pain, but that it is increasingly important to find safe delivery mechanisms, and to put in place regulatory systems that help patients to choose more wisely when using medical marijuana.


References

American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry (AAAP) 25th Annual Meeting: Abstracts 20 and 52, presented December 5, 2014.

Rice AS, Farquhar-Smith WP, Nagy I. Endocannabinoids and pain: spinal and peripheral analgesia in inflammation and neuropathy. Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids. 2002 Feb-Mar;66(2-3):243-56.

Fine PG, Rosenfeld MJ. The endocannabinoid system, cannabinoids, and pain. Rambam Maimonides Med J. 2013 Oct 29;4(4):e0022. doi: 10.5041/RMMJ.10129. eCollection 2013.

Wilsey B, Marcotte T, Deutsch R, Gouaux B, Sakai S, Donaghe H. Low-dose vaporized cannabis significantly improves neuropathic pain. J Pain. 2013 Feb;14(2):136-48. doi: 10.1016/j.jpain.2012.10.009. Epub 2012 Dec 11.

Ware MA, Doyle CR, Woods R, Lynch ME, Clark AJ. Cannabis use for chronic non-cancer pain: results of a prospective survey. Pain. 2003 Mar;102(1-2):211-6.

921 replies
  1. tinyurl.com
    tinyurl.com says:

    Hi there very nice web site!! Man .. Beautiful
    .. Wonderful .. I will bookmark your site and
    take the feeds additionally? I am glad to find numerous
    useful information here in the submit, we need develop extra strategies on this regard, thanks
    for sharing. . . . . .

    Reply
  2. tinyurl.com
    tinyurl.com says:

    I think this is among the most significant info for me.

    And i’m glad reading your article. But should remark on few general things,
    The web site style is ideal, the articles is really nice : D.
    Good job, cheers

    Reply
  3. tinyurl.com
    tinyurl.com says:

    I’m not that much of a internet reader to be honest but your blogs
    really nice, keep it up! I’ll go ahead and bookmark your website to come back later on. Cheers

    Reply
  4. http://tinyurl.com/28b97jy7
    http://tinyurl.com/28b97jy7 says:

    Thanks for your personal marvelous posting! I certainly
    enjoyed reading it, you happen to be a great author.I will
    remember to bookmark your blog and will eventually come
    back in the future. I want to encourage you continue your great work, have a
    nice afternoon!

    Reply
  5. tinyurl.com
    tinyurl.com says:

    After exploring a number of the blog posts on your website,
    I really appreciate your technique of writing a blog. I
    book-marked it to my bookmark website list and will be checking back
    soon. Please check out my web site as well and let me know
    how you feel.

    Reply
  6. dpl.org.np
    dpl.org.np says:

    Hi! I just wanted to ask if you ever have any problems with hackers?
    My last blog (wordpress) was hacked and I ended up losing several weeks of hard
    work due to no data backup. Do you have any methods to prevent hackers?

    Reply
  7. raycon
    raycon says:

    It’s the best time to make some plans for the longer term and
    it’s time to be happy. I’ve learn this publish and if
    I may just I wish to suggest you some interesting things or advice.
    Perhaps you could write subsequent articles regarding this article.
    I want to learn even more things about it!

    My web blog :: raycon

    Reply
  8. tinyurl.com
    tinyurl.com says:

    Hi, I do believe this is an excellent blog. I stumbledupon it 😉 I’m
    going to revisit once again since I book marked it.
    Money and freedom is the greatest way to change, may you be rich and continue to help other people.

    Reply
  9. tinyurl.com
    tinyurl.com says:

    With havin so much content and articles do you ever run into any issues
    of plagorism or copyright infringement? My website has a lot of unique content I’ve either created myself or outsourced but it appears a lot of
    it is popping it up all over the internet without my authorization.
    Do you know any ways to help prevent content from being ripped off?
    I’d genuinely appreciate it.

    Reply
  10. tinyurl.com
    tinyurl.com says:

    A person essentially assist to make significantly articles I might state.
    That is the very first time I frequented your web page and so
    far? I amazed with the analysis you made to make this actual put up incredible.
    Wonderful task!

    Reply
  11. سیگاری بت
    سیگاری بت says:

    Sigari Bet site is one of the most reliable betting sites in Iran, which is managed by a strong group of Montego branches. Sigari Bet is one of the most complete betting sites, whose coefficients are better designed than other sites, and if you are a professional, you can understand this point.سیگاری بت

    Reply
  12. zeneara
    zeneara says:

    Zeneara is marketed as an expert-formulated health supplement that can improve hearing and alleviate tinnitus, among other hearing issues. The ear support formulation has four active ingredients to fight common hearing issues. It may also protect consumers against age-related hearing problems.

    Reply
  13. kabq5x
    kabq5x says:

    下载Telegram中文版,加入全球数百万用户,享受高速、安全的通讯体验。我们提供云存储、文件分享、群组聊天等功能,满足您的所有沟通需求。立即体验更快、更安全的聊天服务。Download Telegram Chinese Version and join millions worldwide for a fast, secure communication experience. Offering cloud storage, file sharing, group chats, and more to meet all your communication needs. Experience faster, safer chatting services now.https://www.tgxiazai.com
    a8sumay7ta

    Reply
  14. cbd flower
    cbd flower says:

    I like this post, enjoyed this one thank you for posting. “It is well to give when asked but it is better to give unasked, through understanding.” by Kahlil Gibran.

    Reply
  15. Nicholas Falley
    Nicholas Falley says:

    This is the right blog for anyone who wants to find out about this topic. You realize so much its almost hard to argue with you (not that I actually would want…HaHa). You definitely put a new spin on a topic thats been written about for years. Great stuff, just great!

    Reply
  16. qweqtt
    qweqtt says:

    I loved as much as youll receive carried out right here The sketch is tasteful your authored material stylish nonetheless you command get bought an nervousness over that you wish be delivering the following unwell unquestionably come more formerly again since exactly the same nearly a lot often inside case you shield this hike

    Reply