Thursday, March 2, 2017

Marijuana and Physical Therapy

Chronic Pain negatively affects

Last weekend, I had a previous patient tell me about their experiences with chronic pain, including their legal use of medical marijuana. 

It made me realize how uninformed I am about the effects of cannabis.  Since patients will ask their family doctor, Physical Therapist, Orthopedic doctor, and other healthcare providers about appropriateness, I thought it be best to deeper understand some facts.

Here are some facts;
  • Marijuana has been used for medicinal purposes for more than 4000 years.
  • It was used extensively in the United States for medical treatment well into the 20th century
  • In 1937, the US government put severe legal restrictions on the use, consequently reducing the use and availability
  • In 1970, it was declared a controlled substance, further restricting the use and limiting research on the analgesic effects

Lately, there has been a change in the medical thoughts on the substance due to the positive reduction of pain and other disorders with the use of cannabis.   Currently, medical marijuana is permitted in 1/2 of the states.  In addition, there are areas of our Physical Therapy practice that are sure to be affected for folks with chronic pain, hyperexciteability, inflammation, neurotic pain. 

A few key facts;

What conditions have been treated with medical marijuana with positive effects?
  • Glaucoma
  • Psychosis and anxiety
  • Seizure disorders
  • Tourette syndrome
  • Cancer related pain
  • Fibromylagia
  • Neuropaathic pain
  • Spasticity with multiple sclerosis
  • Rheumatoid and osteoarthritis
  • Chronic musculoskeletal pain

Adverse effects that could effect Physical Therapy

Short term impairments in cognition, memory, alertness, balance, and coordination, possibly affecting;
  • The ability to drive
  • The risk of falls
  • Workplace or school tasks

Although Medical Marijuana is not fully legal yet in our state, it appears it is soon to come.  I have a lot of reading still to do.

At The Physical Therapy & Wellness Institute,  Chronic Pain Physical Therapy programs are always aimed at reducing pain with education, manual skills, or modalities, and the use of cannabis may soon complement our work.

More discussions with the family and chronic pain doctors are a sure bet in my practice, to help me answer my patients when the time comes!

Robert Babb, PT
Physical Therapist at The Physical Therapy & Wellness Institute with locations in Lansdale, Quakertown, Montgomeryville, West Norriton, Glenside, Harleysville, and Souderton, PA