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Medical Cannabis and Chronic Pain in Connecticut

January 25, 2024

Chronic pain can last for months or even years, and it can occur anywhere in the body.  Depending on its severity, it can seriously impact a person’s daily life, activities, work, and even lead to mental health problems such as depression or anxiety.  It may be the result of things such as past physical trauma, degenerative changes in the body, neuropathic pain, or even in some cases no underlying cause is ever found.  In some cases, it can even be psychogenic in origin, where the person’s mental health problem results in (or manifests as) physical pain.  For example, a person with severe persistent depression might begin experiencing subjective physical pain as a byproduct of their psychological distress.

The first thing to do when experiencing chronic pain is to speak with a physician and rule out an underlying problem that might be causing it, such as cancer or an autoimmune condition.  This step is very important and should not be skipped, as doing so might result in missing some potentially fatal illness.  As mentioned above, included in ruling out an underlying problem is considering potential mental health causes to an individual’s chronic pain (such as depression, anxiety, hypochondriasis, conversion disorder, etc.).  Once a treatable underlying cause has been ruled out, treatment usually centers around a combination or medications, therapies, and/or lifestyle changes.

If conventional therapies have failed to successfully or adequately address an individual’s chronic pain, an alternative therapy that can be considered is the use of cannabis or other cannabis-derived products.  As of 2023 in Connecticut, the process of obtaining a medical cannabis card can even be done from the convenience of your home via a telehealth visit. My Virtual Physician has qualified physicians who are able to help you navigate the process of applying and being approved for obtaining a medical cannabis card.   

There have been numerous studies that have shown cannabis to be effective in the management of chronic pain.  Furthermore, in studies looking at the use of cannabis for the treatment of multiple other health problems or diseases, pain reduction was often the primary effect reported by participants in those studies.

In addition to the pain reduction itself, some studies have shown that cannabis use for chronic pain can significantly reduce opioid use among these patients.  This reduction in opioid use carries multiple benefits, particularly right now as we find ourselves in something of an opioid epidemic in the United States.  Illicitly-obtained opioids can be of wildly-varying concentrations and strengths, in addition to often being laced with cheap-but-extremely-potent narcotics such as fentanyl. Thus reducing opioid use can help prevent accidental overdoses.  But even with legally obtained opioids from a reputable medical institution with accurate concentrations, opioids still carry risks such as respiratory depression, which can still result in death if abused by the patient or combined with alcohol or other drugs.

Therefore there is good evidence that cannabis can be an effective adjunct treatment in the management of chronic pain and can be considered by patients with the advice and counsel of their physician.  Cannabis still carries its normal health, safety and legal risks. Patients must be consciously aware of the dangers of impaired cognition and memory, particularly when it comes to performing activities such as driving, operating heavy machinery, or carrying out one’s professional duties.

To further explore interesting ideas and stay up to date with ongoing changes in the medical arena, check our main blog site at My Virtual Physician!! (

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