degenerative disc disease

Does degenerative disc disease qualify patients for Florida’s medical marijuana program?

  • Does chronic pain caused by a degenerative disc disease qualify patients for a Florida medical marijuana card?

  • How safe and effective is medical marijuana at treating back and neck pain?

  • Many Floridians are finding that medical marijuana does, indeed, relieve or lessen their pain.

  • The effects of DDD, how medical marijuana provides relief, and how to use various cannabis products for treatment.

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We often hear about medical marijuana being used to treat conditions such as anxiety and seizure disorders. But, did you know that degenerative disc disease is one of the most prevalent conditions cited for patients obtaining medical marijuana cards in Florida? If one considers that more than 80 percent of Floridians will be afflicted with this painful condition at some point in their lifetime, then this comes as no surprise.  

Sadly, many DDD sufferers will become addicted to opioid painkillers in an attempt to deal with their pain. And non-addictive, over-the-counter medications are often not potent enough to relieve the chronic, debilitating pain that comes with degenerative disc disease.

Fortunately, decades of research and clinical studies have revealed that medical marijuana may offer a safe, effective, non-invasive, and economical option for many patients seeking relief from the pain of degenerative disc disease.

What Is Degenerative Disc Disease?

Degenerative disc disease isn’t a single disease. It is an umbrella term that includes various types of damaged spinal discs. The condition is commonly associated with the progression of the aging process.

Degenerative disc disease is actually a form of arthritis. It is most common in the elderly population. However, it can occur at any age due to genetics, heavy lifting, repetitive motion, or spinal injuries. 

The aging body is, over time, subject to wear and tear causing increased stiffness and mysterious aches and pains. Excessive wear on spinal discs eventually leads to degenerative disc disease. 

Spinal discs act as shock absorbers for the spine. They effectively cushion the bones of the spine and allow us to bend, twist, walk or run long distances, and bear heavy weight. 

As our spines begin to age, the intervertebral discs lose elasticity. Their innate shock-absorbing abilities falter. Discs begin to atrophy. The surrounding ligaments become brittle and susceptible to tears as the gel-like discs shrink and thin.

The inevitable stiffening of the supporting ligaments combined with continuous damage to the disc may also cause the development of bone spurs, another painful symptom of degenerative disc disease. 

Moreover, a condition called spinal stenosis can arise if the bone spur protrudes into the spinal canal, impinging on the spinal cord and nerves. This impingement can sometimes cause a tingling or numbness in the legs or arms called radiculopathy.

How Does Medical Marijuana Help Treat Pain Caused By Degenerative Disc Disease?

The exact mechanisms by which medical marijuana relieves pain and inflammation are still somewhat of a mystery. However, research has made it clear that active compounds found in cannabis known as phytocannabinoids (plant cannabinoids) work to supplement the body’s own naturally produced endocannabinoids (human cannabinoids). 

For example, phytocannabinoids produced in cannabis have been shown to produce very similar effects to an endocannabinoid called anandamide. Anandamide regulates the production and uptake of a hormone called serotonin. And serotonin plays a role in regulating both pain and moods. Phytocannabinoids have also been shown to provide anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that help to protect aging spinal discs. 

The University of Colorado’s Spine Center engaged 200 patients in a recent research project. Interestingly, 81 percent of the participants reported that medical marijuana reduced their pain more efficiently than their prescription opioid medications. And a remarkable 89 percent of the patients involved in the project claimed to experience moderate to a significant lessening of their pain.

In another study published by Current Neuropharmacology, it was reported that medical cannabis is a proven, potent remedy for the treatment of degenerative disc pain. 

Even as far back as 1999, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) reported positive results and a reduction of post-operative acute, neuropathic, and spinal cord injury pain with the use of cannabinoids.

Sleep disorders and mood disorders are also common in patients suffering from acute, chronic pain. These conditions can be an obstacle to healing. Fortunately, in addition to reducing pain and inflammation, medical marijuana might also relieve insomnia, anxiety, and depression.

How To Use Medical Marijuana To Treat Degenerative Disc Disease

There are multiple ways to experience the pain-relieving properties of medical marijuana. Historically, the most common method of ingestion has been smoking or vaping marijuana flower or cannabis oil. However, edible marijuana products including baked goods, candies, and beverages are also very popular, as are capsules, tinctures, and cannabis-infused pain creams.

Ultimately the goal is to provide symptom-relief using the most efficient method for each patient. First-time users should consult with a marijuana doctor or a professional budtender at a Florida dispensary. These professionals can help new medical marijuana patients decide on the best marijuana delivery method for the patient’s individual’s particular needs.

Smoking Marijuana And Vaping Cannabis Oil To Relieve Disc Pain

Two of the most popular methods of marijuana consumption are smoking or vaping cannabis flower. Vape pens can also be equipped with cannabis oil cartridges. These methods produce almost instantaneous relief, however, inhalation of marijuana products is considered a poor choice for people with lung, heart, or high blood pressure conditions.

Cannabis-Infused Capsules, Gummies, And Beverages For Disc Pain

Gummies, capsules, and beverages infused with cannabis oils offer an efficient way to employ the pain-relieving benefits of cannabis. These products dissolve quickly in the stomach. However, These oral applications take longer to reach full effect. On the other hand, the effects are much longer-lasting. These oral cannabis options are available in several potencies and formulas to suit everyone’s needs.

Cannabis-Infused Baked Goods

Marijuana oil-infused baked goods such as muffins, cookies, and brownies are available for purchase in dispensaries and online. Homemade edibles are also popular. Edibles are a delicious way to enjoy the powerful, long-lasting, pain-relieving effects of medical cannabis. However, keep in mind that baked goods may take up to an hour to be fully digested and take full effect.

Cannabinoid-Infused Tinctures

Tinctures can be purchased in two forms. One is an oil infused with a concentrated cannabis extract, the other is infused with pure THC or CBD isolates. Tinctures come with a measuring dropper to ensure precise dosing. Tinctures offer a highly efficient delivery method. The drops are generally applied sublingually (under the tongue) where the cannabinoids are absorbed rapidly in the bloodstream. However, they can also be added to food or used topically. 

Cannabinoid-Infused Pain Creams

The least invasive delivery system for cannabis ingestion is a topical pain cream. Some of these creams have zero intoxicating effects. The cream is applied to the affected area for fast pain relief.

Products containing THC are only available for purchase to patients with a legitimate Florida medical marijuana license. However, CBD products have no intoxicating effects and can be highly effective. A wide range of CBD oils, edibles, and creams can be purchased legally by anyone in the state of Florida. Patients can also order CBD oil online.

What Is The Best Medical Marijuana Dosage For Treating Spinal Pain?

It’s important to understand that medical marijuana is an herbal remedy. As such, it works differently in each individual. Moreover, every strain of marijuana contains different ratios of cannabinoids and terpenes. And there are a multitude of formulas for cannabis-infused products. As one might guess, determining an ideal dosage depends on many factors. 

A typical dosage of cannabinoids can be anywhere from five milligrams to hundreds of milligrams. Patients who are new to medical marijuana and cannabis products should start with the lowest dose possible and gradually increase the amount until the desired effects are achieved.

Dosage should also be discussed with the patient’s doctor and a qualified budtender at the patient’s local medical marijuana dispensary and should be specific to the product being used.

How To Get A Florida Medical Marijuana Card For Degenerative Disc Disease

If one looks at the list of qualifying medical conditions for a Florida medical marijuana card they won’t see DDD on the list. But that shouldn’t discourage patients who are interested in trying medical marijuana to treat their condition. That’s because, in the state of Florida, doctors actually get the final say as to which patients can benefit from medical marijuana. And patients suffering from chronic and acute pain are generally approved. 

The first step in obtaining a Florida medical marijuana card is to make an appointment with a Florida medical marijuana doctor for an evaluation. Once approved, the doctor and their staff will walk new patients through the process of applying for their card. 

Patients looking into medical marijuana treatments are advised to avoid experimentation with black market marijuana. Illegal marijuana grows don’t adhere to safety regulations and their products are not lab tested for potency and purity. As a result, they can do more harm than good. Moreover, being caught with illicit drugs can land users in jail.

Contact a certified Florida medical marijuana doctor and buy your medicine at a legitimate fully licensed Florida dispensary.

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