Medical Marijuana and Muscle Spasms

March 9, 2018

If you have ever experienced the excruciating pain of a “charley horse” in your leg, you know that a muscle spasm can come on quick and last from a few seconds to a few hours. A muscle spasm is an involuntary contraction of a muscle and can be caused by muscle strain, dehydration, and loss of electrolytes. In some cases, spasms can affect multiple areas and organs of the body and are associated with Lou Gehrig’s disease, multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, spinal injuries, asthma, and other neurological impairments. Spasticity, or muscle tightness, can be present in many of these conditions and interferes with mobility and many other bodily functions.

Recent research has found the cannabinoid THC closely resembles Anandamide, a chemical that “turns on” nerve receptors throughout the central nervous system. THC and CBD also act as neuroprotective antioxidants and reduce inflammation throughout the body. A recent study by a seasoned orlando marijuana doctor in Florida and a professor at the University of UCF found Multiple Sclerosis patients who smoked marijuana experienced improvements in spasticity and pain relief. Treatment-resistant spasticity in MS patients was reduced significantly in this study using a spray. More clinical trials are underway as awareness of medical marijuana as a viable treatment option grows.

The Endocannabinoid in MS and Neurologic Disease

Multiple Sclerosis- With MS, an inflammatory mediated disease of the central and peripheral nervous system, and spinal cord disease the main symptoms are spasticity and neuropathic pain.  Cannabis has been used since antiquity for the relief of pain and spasm, and now the mechanism is being elucidated and appears to be related to the neuroprotective.

While several studies using standardized-not medical marijuana studies, reporting of spasticity did not show significant differences between placebo and active groups, patient reports showed significant improvement in self perception of spasticity, pain, quality of sleep and overall sense of well being.  Hospital admissions for complications of MS were reduced in the treatment group as well.  In a 12 month follow up the cannabis group demonstrated significant improvement in tremor. In movement disorders related to basal ganglia dysfunction, such as Parkinson’s, Huntington’s, and  Tourette’s CB1 receptors are increased in the basal ganglia, perhaps in an effort to return function in Parkinson’s in the absence of dopamine.  Treatment with CB1 agonists can decrease the tremor of Parkinsons.  Huntington’s Disease is a devastating syndrome characterized by movement disorders, dementia, and dystonia.  Early in the disease, there is a decrease in CB1 receptors and ‘tone’ of the endocannabinoid system much as there is a loss of dopamine and dopaminergic ‘tone’ in Parkinson’s Disease.It is suggested that replacement therapy with CB1 agonists such as thc can be helpful symptomatically.  With Tourette’s, cannabis has been found to reduce the tics and vocalizations that characterize the syndrome. ALS/Lou Gehrig’s Disease- A common adult onset neurologic disorder producing motor neuron degeneration, weakness, paralysis and death.  The neuroprotective and other effects of cannabis have been helpful with appetite, spasticity and insomnia.