It’s National Pain Week in Australia, and one of the features of this annual week of reflection on chronic pain is the release of a huge, nationwide survey of chronic pain sufferers about their experiences with their condition and its treatment.
This year, one of the standout results of the survey was that 75% of those surveyed wanted their GP to prescribe them cannabis to help control their pain. However, there are some serious questions about whether this treatment is actually helpful for chronic pain sufferers. Since the chronic pain we treat most often in our office is TMJ, we want to take some time to look at whether cannabis is effective for TMJ pain.
Research Isn’t Promising
Because cannabis has not been recognized as a treatment and has been illegal around the world, there is little research into the use of cannabis as a pain treatment for TMJ and other chronic pain conditions.
However, there have also been studies suggesting that the benefit is little to none. For example, an inverse agonist of cannabinoid receptors (a drug that produces the opposite effect in receptors) has been shown to relieve pain, which suggests that cannabis might actually increase pain.
And to some extent, that’s what came out of the longest study on the use of cannabis for chronic pain. This study, released at the beginning of July by the University of New South Wales, looked at 1500 people with chronic pain for a period of four years. Some of the patients used cannabis to manage their pain, while others did not. Researchers found that although cannabis users “perceived it to help” their pain, the reality was different.
Cannabis users reported greater pain and higher anxiety. They also reported that they were not coping as well with their pain, and they said their pain interfered more with their life. And people who used cannabis didn’t cut down on their dosage of opioid medication.
Although research is probably too limited to make a conclusion, it sure seems unlikely that cannabis is a silver bullet for chronic pain such as TMJ.
Drug-Free TMJ Treatment
Fortunately, we do have a good approach for treating TMJ pain in our office. Not only that, but it’s a drug-free treatment option, so there’s no dangerous drug side effects, and no danger of addiction.
Most TMJ pain reported by most TMJ sufferers is related to tense, sore jaw muscles. We have techniques that can relax the jaw muscles and help hold your jaw in its position of best rest so the tension and soreness doesn’t return. In just a few weeks, you can experience TMJ relief. Not only does this control the pain, but it can also reduce damage to the jaw joint so that your TMJ doesn’t continue to worsen.
TMJ is a diverse condition, and no one treatment works for everyone. But if you haven’t tried neuromuscular dental treatment for your TMJ, you should. It may be the secret to long-term pain relief and jaw health.