Scoliosis and Medical Marijuana

Scoliosis and Medical Marijuana

Scoliosis is a lateral (towards the side) curvature on the normally straight vertical line of the spine. When viewed from the side, the spine should show a mild roundness in the upper back and shows a degree of swayback (inward curvature) in the lower back. A person who suffers from scoliosis will have a spine that looks more like a “C” or an “S” instead of a straight line.

It is most often diagnosed in childhood or early adolescence. Approximately 2% to 3% of Americans at age 16 have scoliosis. Less than 0.1% have spinal curves measuring greater than 40 degrees, which is the point at which surgery becomes a consideration. Overall, girls are more likely to be affected than boys.

Causes

Scoliosis can be congenital in nature, meaning it was caused by a defect present at the time of birth. It can also be classified as neuromuscular when caused as a secondary symptom of another condition such as spina bifida or cerebral palsy or idiopathic, meaning the cause is unknown.

Idiopathic scoliosis is most common in teenagers and diagnosis is when all other causes are excluded, and comprises about 80% of all cases. Other types and causes of scoliosis include: degenerative scoliosis which is as a result of traumatic (from an injury or illness) bone collapse, previous major back surgery, or osteoporosis (thinning of the bones).

Symptoms / Signs

There are several signs that may indicate the possibility of scoliosis. These include uneven leg length or musculature on one side of the spine, a prominent rib or shoulder blade, and slow nerve action.

Scoliosis and medical marijuana use

For a scoliosis sufferer, chronic pain is often a way of life. The more severe the curve of the spine, the more painful the condition may be and the more the condition may interfere with daily activities and enjoyment of life. Traditional treatment available for scoliosis only provides short term relief for the pain and steadiness of the curve. In addition, the treatment meant to correct the problem often increases the pain level in the process of attempting to correct the problem.

Anti-inflammatory medications, as well as opiate based medications, are frequently prescribed for scoliosis patients; however, opiate based pain medications carry a high risk of developing a dependency as well as a host of other potentially negative side effects. Whether before, during or after traditional treatment, medical marijuana may be useful in combating the pain associated with scoliosis.

Numerous studies have looked at the use of medical marijuana as a pain relief medication and found the effects of ingesting or inhaling marijuana to be a legitimate and effective pain relief option.

A recent study also looked at the addition of medical marijuana to a pain relief regimen that included opiate based pain medications, and found that the addition of medical marijuana allowed patients to reduce their consumption of opiate based medications in 27% of the patients while maintaining the same level of pain relief.

Medical marijuana also contains Cannabidiol, or CBD, which has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties. The CBD found in medical marijuana, therefore, can help to reduce the inflammation caused by the curving of the spine and/or treatments that are aimed at straightening the spine.

Conclusion

Every year, scoliosis patients make more than 600,000 visits to private physician offices, an estimated 30,000 children are fitted with a brace, and 38,000 patients undergo spinal fusion surgery. These surgeries are both high risk and expensive and do not provide a guarantee of recovery from the illness. With medical marijuana, the pain associated with scoliosis is entirely ruled out and can also help with recovery.

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