Cannabis and Spinal Cord Injury


People reach out to BACKBONES looking for peer support or connections but often times they are also looking for information and options in managing many symptoms that come along with spinal cord injury. The most common symptoms people are battling are chronic pain, spasticity, bladder control, urinary tract infections, insomnia and depression. Most likely these symptoms are treated with a variety of medications such as narcotics, anti-spastics, anti-depressants, or antibiotics which may have side effects such as nausea, constipation, weight gain, dizziness and more.

How can cannabis help people with SCI?
Many people are becoming aware of cannabis and its ability to treat many symptoms of SCI including pain, spasticity, insomnia, and depression. Some improvement in bladder and bowel control has also been noted. Cannabinoids are the medicinal compounds found in cannabis and offer a diversity of symptom relief to SCI patients.

Cannabidiol (CBD): Studies have not only demonstrated CBD’s painkilling properties, but also its ability to reduce spasticity in SCI patients.
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC): Though stereotyped as “psychoactive stoner” compound, various studies show that THC improves many SCI symptoms including pain, spasticity, bladder control, and insomnia.

Recreational vs. Medicinal Strains
Recreational strains are much different than the medicinal strains. Recreational marijuana has high levels THC compound because of its mind-altering effects. Medicinal cannabis is low in THC and higher in other compounds that help with pain and spasticity, such as cannabidiol (CBD) and cannabinol (CBN). You do not need to be high to experience pain relief. In fact, many people using medical cannabis prefer not to feel intoxicated. They want to ease pain and spasticity while still being present and functional.

How to Use
There are multiple ways to use from vaporizers, tinctures and edibles. Smoking is not the best option since it is bad for the lungs and you may already have respiratory issues from paralysis.

State to State
Many states have legalized the use of medicinal cannabis for specific conditions one of which is spinal cord injury. To find detailed information about your state CLICK HERE.

Every person is different and every spinal injury is also very different. If you think medicinal cannabis is an option for you it is important to talk with your doctor openly about it, discuss your options, and follow the law according to your state.

For additional information:
2014 Spinal Cord Injury Wellness Summit
The Use of Medical Marijuana to Manage Symptom Burden in Spinal Cord Injury
By Gregory T. Carter, MD, MS
Medical Director, St. Luke’s Rehabilitation Institute, Spokane, Washington, and faculty, University of Washington Medical School

For information on Illinois Pilot Program and Application
10 Tips When Applying

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