Osteoporosis, pain and medical cannabis

With age, osteoporosis — a disease causing weakened bones — can creep in, undetected until too late after a seemingly minor injury has caused a serious bone break.

Affecting approximately 54 million Americans, no single cause for osteoporosis has been identified, but the risk jumps sharply over time: after fifty, a man’s risk of breaking a bone due to osteoporosis is one in four; a woman’s risk is one in two with post-menopausal women at the greatest risk. Breaks of the wrist, shoulder, hip, and spine as a result of a fall or other injury are the most common, and the older the patient, the more serious complications they may face.

Early warning signs of osteoporosis include back pain, stooping posture, and loss of height, but definitive diagnosis is often delayed until too late. Known as the “silent thief,” the effects can be very subtle over a number of years — by the time a patient suffers a break the condition can be quite progressed.

Sufferers face a great deal of pain, but medical cannabis can provide an alternative strategy for pain management during recovery and beyond. When surveyed, users of medical cannabis reported pain as their most common complaint, and it’s becoming a viable alternative to prescription medications.

Patients report that medical cannabis provides pain relief comparable to that from other medications such as opioids but without unpleasant side-effects. When medical cannabis is used in an addition to opioids, lower doses may be sufficient, reducing the risk of overdose.

Researchers report that patients describe a higher quality of life when they use medical cannabis to manage their pain. For evening relief, patients often turn to medical cannabis products that contain THC, while CBD-containing products are often preferred for relief during the daytime.

For more information about Osteoporosis, including warning signs and preventative steps you can take, visit the National Osteoporosis Foundation or Osteoporosis Canada.