Cannabis Can Help Muscle Spasm

What is Spasticity and How Can Cannabis Help?


Spasticity is a clinical condition in which muscles contract and tighten, which can lead to hyper-reflexia (fast and strong reflexes tested during a physical exam), pain, discomfort, reduced quality of life, and even paralysis in some cases.

Most all cases of spasticity are actually neurologic in origin, meaning that damaged neurons that control the muscles cause them to tighten.  Usually, the spasm symptoms are caused by damaged motor neuron tracts coming down from the brain to the spinal cord and out to the periphery.  These neurons normally INHIBIT contraction, so damage to the inhibition can be compared to removing the breaks on a car - so the muscles tighten when the impulses from the brain and spinal cord that put the brakes on contraction are removed/damaged.

Clonus, another term used when discussing spasticity, is a condition that often coexists with spasticity and features involuntary, rhythmic, muscular contractions and relaxations.

Spasticity itself is not a medical condition - it is a symptom caused by various pathologies. Muscles are unusually tight, lack relaxation and contract without conscious control.  The spasticity can also be accompanied by periods of weakness.


Medical Cannabis and Spasticity

Cannabis has been used for centuries to treat mental and physical tension.  Research, as much as we are allowed to investigate in the US, shows that cannabis has multiple chemicals within it that interact with the brain and body's specific cannabis receptors that guide many physiological functions, including the musculoskeletal system.

How Drugs Work to Control Spasticity

Spasticity is commonly treated with the drug Baclofen, which blocks GABA (an amino acid neurotransmitter) from receptors, reducing overactive neuron firing and abnormal muscle contraction.

Unfortunately Baclofen has many difficult side effects such as;  vomiting, weakness, sedation, somnolence, respiratory depression, seizures, unusual pupil size, dizziness,headaches, itching, hypothermia, bradycardia, hypertension, hyporeflexia, coma, and death. Furthermore, it is most effective when injected directly into the ventricles in the brain - a highly invasive procedure.  Lastly, the drug is very potent and must be titrated upward carefully to avoid harmful side effects.  When patients want to stop the drug, they must slowly decrease the amount over several weeks to months.

Research - Clinical Trials - Medical Cannabis and Spasticity

The cannabis system - known as the endocannabinoid system - has been impacted in a wide variety of physiological controls and in the treatment of the pathology that occurs when these systems break down.  In particular, several studies have suggested that this system may have an important role in the pathogenesis and therapy of multiple sclerosis.   Clinical studies in animals and humans have shown that medical cannabis is a non-toxic alternative to more invasive and harmful pharmaceutical treatments like Baclofen.





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Dr. Allison Kendrick

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