This month marks 5 years since my last surgery, an L4-L5 discectomy which followed a L5-S1 Laminectomy and an L1-L2 Schwannoma removal in 2011. Along with degenerating discs and spinal stenosis, my recovery has been long, on-going and something I need to work on every day.
Author - discpain
One of the most common related issues with back pain is the inability to get a good night’s rest. But before running out and purchasing a pricey adjustable bed, there’s a few simple adjustments one can make to get back to some quality zzzz’s. And a knee pillow, for those that sleep on their side like I do, was the perfect hack.
For years, when describing my back issues, I mixed up the terms bulging disc with herniated disc and vice versa. It wasn’t until a neurosurgeon corrected me that I learned that though both conditions deal with disc impingements, each was a separate problem with separate solutions.
Failed back surgery syndrome (or failed back syndrome) is a general term to describe an unsuccessful back surgery. These patients continue to feel pain after they’ve had a surgical spine procedure and can experience a wide range of symptoms which may include chronic pain in the back, neck, or legs, which could be either dull or sharp, aching, tingling, burning, or radiating. In my case, it was a buildup of scar tissue around spinal nerve roots which caused a a considerable amount of discomfort around the surgical area.
Of all the items I’ve reviewed for this site, without a doubt, it’s the long handle shoe horn that I use most often. And as you can see by the photo above, it’s within hands reach of my hallway shoe bench…ready for action.
With the rise of podcasts as a platform for free-flowing dialogue and discussion, Here’s some of the most informative and enlightening conversations with doctors and medical professionals about the various types of back pain ( conditions / injuries), treatments and new medical advances in spinal care.
Due to popular demand, I bring you 5 more stories of people who have recently undergone back surgery and are well on their way to recovery.
So…in a moment of self-pity, you googled ‘famous people with bad backs’ and this blog-post popped up. It’s completely understandable. Many of us want to feel like we’re not the only ones going through this – and in some strange way, knowing that President John F Kennedy had a horrible spine condition helps us realize that perhaps we can also accomplish great things despite days when we’re hunched over like Quasimodo.
Like many people reading this blog, along with bulging discs and Spinal Stenosis, I have Degenerative Disc Disease. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly how this contributes to my overall level of chronic pain, but generally speaking, DDD causes a lot of stiffness and instability. I wake up with an achey lower back, and spend most of my day trying to minimize the amount of bone on bone (vertebrae – L5/S1) pounding it takes.
To answer the question simply, yes. In my experience when used responsibly, cannabis particularly CBD oil, can reduce back pain especially neuropathic pain. However, it’s extremely important to consult a physician before consuming any form of cannabis to better understand it’s unique properties.
So here’s a quick primer on two of the main active ingredients in marijuana and the affects they have on the brain and body:
THC (tetrahydrocannabinol): This chemical compound is responsible for the psychotropic effects that most people associate with marijuana use. Apart from the ‘high’ that’s so often mentioned by recreational users, THC is reported to have several medical benefits such as treatment for depression, bi-polar disorder, anxiety and various other mental illnesses. However, some in the medical field believe that more research is required to fully understand the overall effectiveness that THC-cannabis has on the brain, but early indications seem promising.
Cannabidiol, is the non psychotropic chemical compound which may down regulate disordered thinking and anxiety, and seems to have some benefits with opioid addiction by blocking neurotransmitters in the brain. Since CBD does not share any of the same psychotropic effects as THC, patients don’t feel ‘stoned’ and can continue with daily activities that require clear thinking.
CBD also acts as an anti-inflammatory and has been used to combat nausea from certain cancer treatments. The compound is already being used to treat arthritis and mood disorders, as it’s been shown to lift mood through increased serotonin levels as mentioned by Dr. Michelle Ross, here, and in this video which outlines 13 studies that link CBD to lower rates of depression.
But returning to the original question: Has medical cannabis use helped with my back pain?
Yes, it has however…the effectiveness greatly depends on the variety and potency of the cannabis. As cannabis becomes decriminalized in many states and countries around the world, more producers are entering the market which has created a wide variety of products. This in turn, allows back pain sufferers who are also medical marijuana patients, to have greater access and control over how they manage back pain through somewhat custom solutions.
For example, if you’re looking for strict pain control because of inflammation, with no psychological effects, a high in CBD/low THC oil would work best. However, if you’re also looking to lessen the stress, and anxiety caused by chronic pain, then a more balanced CBD/THC mixture could be helpful.
Let’s have a look at this video by Dr. Rachna Patel who supports the research done on the anti-inflammatory properties of CBD:
Here’s an actual example from a registered cannabis grower, showing how medical marijuana, through careful scientific precision, allows patients to have much more control over the THC / CBD combinations. Traditionally, strains between producers did not have this level of consistency which meant that as a consumer, you didn’t quite know what you would be consuming and how your body would react.
In this short clip, Dr. Gina Berman provides a quick breakdown of how THC and CBD work together to decrease the ill effects of the opiate withdrawal process.
As always, check with your health care expert before attempting these exercises to prevent further injury…and take care.