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Millions of Americans deal with chronic pain. The severity ranges from manageable to debilitating, and your pain can vary from one day to the next. Unlike acute pain, which goes away after a while, chronic pain can last for weeks, months, or even years.

In many cases, those with chronic pain take over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers. In severe cases, a doctor may prescribe something stronger. These medications often have significant side effects, including addiction. With cannabis for chronic pain, however, you can get the relief you need without these unwanted side effects.

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Types of Chronic Pain

By definition, chronic pain is persistent. Pain signals can continue firing for weeks, months, or years. It may start with an initial injury, or it may show up seemingly randomly.

Chronic pain is linked to several different conditions, such as:

  • Neuropathic pain from conditions such as cancer, diabetes, or multiple sclerosis
  • Arthritis
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Temporomandibular joint disorder
  • Endometriosis
  • Headaches
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome

Many people with chronic pain experience tense muscles, limited mobility, and low energy. They may also develop anxiety or depression.

Conventional Treatments

There are several different treatments for chronic pain. Some people find relief with basic lifestyle changes, like practicing relaxation techniques or light exercise. Some take over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen or acetaminophen. For more severe chronic pain, your doctor may prescribe something stronger.

While OTC and prescription pain medications may provide relief, they can also come with unpleasant side effects, including:

  • Drowsiness
  • Confusion, disorientation, or clouded thinking
  • Nausea
  • Constipation
  • Slowed breathing
  • Weakened immunity

If you take prescription pain medications long enough, your body may begin to build a tolerance to them, meaning that you’ll need a stronger dose to provide similar relief. There’s also a risk of addiction, which can lead to prescription medication abuse.

How Cannabis Works for Pain

Cannabis provides a natural alternative to OTC and prescription pain relievers. The plant contains hundreds of compounds — including cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids — many of which have analgesic properties.

For instance, THC interacts with the cannabinoid receptors in your nervous system, helping to block pain signals. CBD provides relief from inflammation. Studies also show that cannflavins in cannabis are more effective at relieving pain than aspirin.

One of the most significant benefits of cannabis for chronic pain is that the plant doesn’t carry the same risk of dependency as OTC and prescription medications. In addition to providing a more natural method of pain relief, this lower risk of addiction is one reason why many people choose cannabis over conventional treatments.

Best Cannabis Methods to Alleviate Chronic Pain

You have options when it comes to alleviating chronic pain with cannabis. Smoking and vaping provide fast-acting relief. Most people feel the results in about 30 minutes. Sublingual tinctures also work quickly. Edibles take much longer to kick in, but their relief lasts longer.

No one method of cannabis consumption is better than all others. Choose the forms that work best for you.

If you’re dealing with chronic pain, but you’re worried about the unwanted side effects of conventional medication, cannabis may provide the relief you need. Speak with your doctor if you want to give it a try.