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Managing Pain 2021

At last; legal cannabis medicines for your spinal pain

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Dr Anthony Ordman

Cannabis misuse lead to it’s illegal status  in 1928. Now, science is using cannabis-based medicines to alleviate pain

The burden of spinal pain 

Back and neck pain constitute a common affliction in the developed world, bringing long-term pain, poor quality of life and even disability. Pain also has knock-on effects for sufferers’ relationships and employment, and even the economy. 

Conventional approaches may not help 

Despite best help from GP’s, physiotherapists, rheumatologists, surgeons and pain clinics, many people suffer on-going spinal, nerve and muscle pain, and poor sleep.  Often, the cause can’t be found as the pain becomes ‘centralised’ in the nervous system.

Pain medicines don’t always help, either, sometimes doing more harm than good. Paracetamol is not always enough and anti-inflammatories can harm the stomach and kidneys. Codeine and morphine-like medicines cause nausea and constipation, ‘brain fog’ and dependency, while failing to treat pain effectively. Nerve pain medicines and muscle relaxants often do the same. 

New science 

Medical science has known about the natural endo-cannabinoid system for a few years now. This system restores balance and normality within the body. But when chronic pain and stress overwhelm it, pain and anxiety can take over. Cannabis medicines can often help restore this balance. 

For millennia, humans have used cannabis extracts to alleviate pain safely and effectively, with few side effects. It was only in 1928, because of recreational cannabis misuse, that all use was made illegal in the UK. 

But now, following the lead of Canada, Israel, and other countries, UK regulations have changed, allowing specialists to prescribe cannabis-based medicines (CBM’s) for chronic pain, and other conditions.

New hope 

NHS availability remains scarce, partly because of financial and work-force limitations. But independent groups of medical consultants have looked at the medical evidence for CBM’s, and created specialist medical cannabis clinics. So, it is now possible, at moderate cost, for top doctors to offer personalised blends of pharmacy-grade cannabis preparations, hoping to alleviate spine and nerve pain, while relaxing painful muscle spasm, and improving sleep, anxiety and mood, with few or no side-effects. 

Find a cannabis medicine clinic that treats you with medical expertise and integrity, and you might be helped with your pain, and your medication burden, too.

Dr Anthony Ordman is an Advisory Board member of The National Back Pain Association, more commonly known as BackPain UK or BackCare. For further information visit: www.backcare.org.uk 

Dr Ordman is one of the UK’s most senior Pain Consultants. For many years, he worked at the NHS Royal Free Hospital’s Pain clinic, which he founded in 1997.  He was awarded the Fellowship of the Royal College of Physicians in 2005 for his contribution to Pain Medicine, and he is past President of the Pain Medicine Section of the Royal Society of Medicine. His expertise touches upon every area of pain; from spinal, musculoskeletal and nerve pain to post- surgical and trauma pain. Dr Ordman has lectured and taught widely, and sits on BackPain UK’s Advisory Board.

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