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Arthritis, Pain & Inflammation: The Medical Cannabis Alternative

By Peggy Benzing, D.O.

Arthritis, Pain & Inflammation: The Medical Cannabis AlternativeArthritis is inflammation of one or more joints, which can cause severe pain and deformity. However, arthritis is not simply one disease with one cause. The term, ”arthritis” is commonly used to describe joint and musculoskeletal  pain, but actually, there are about 200 different conditions that can be painful or disfiguring such as the following:

• Rheumatoid Arthritis
• Fibromyalgia
• Gout
• Lupus
• Osteoarthritis
• Psoriatic Arthritis
• Scleroderma
• Polymyalgia Rheumatica
• Sjogren’s Syndrome
• Ankylosis Spondylitis
• Polymyositis
• Chron’s Disease
• And more

Inflammatory disease can develop in people of any age, gender or race. The initial symptoms are usually thought to be minor aches and pains until the pain becomes recurrent, severe or individuals start to see other inflammatory changes. Many forms of arthritis can affect other vital organs, or skin, in addition to the musculoskeletal system. Soon, over the counter medications begin to not be as effective. Some causes of the varied forms of inflammatory disease are genetic, autoimmune related, infection, repetitive motion injuries, and sometimes, we never find the specific cause. However, they all involve inflammation.

Currently, there is no known cure for any of the various forms of arthritis. Symptom management with pain medication, NSAIDs, steroids, immunosuppressants, and creams are sometimes helpful, but the conditions are usually recurrent and progressive. Some of the medications currently used for arthritis can be life-saving, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have side effects, too.

I would like to focus on the treatment of inflammatory disorders through immune system moderation with medical marijuana. It is interesting to note that there is considerable credible cannabis research for many conditions such as Crohn’s disease, HIV, and MS. Years ago, we didn’t know that all these conditions are related! We didn’t know they were all inflammatory conditions caused by or worsened by autoimmune dysfunction.

Cannabinoids, which are some of the chemicals naturally occurring in marijuana, are also naturally occurring in our bodies. THC and CBD are the most well studied, are known for their anti-inflammatory properties. It is also documented that it is possible to have pain relief without becoming intoxicated. There are forms of medical marijuana that contain smaller amounts of THC and larger amounts of CBD. Many people find that they are more functional with activities of daily living without being impaired. It is also not necessary to smoke to consume. Recently, however, the Florida legislature approved smokable marijuana for medicinal use.

It is generally felt that we heal best during our normal sleep. If your pain keeps you awake consistently, you are probably not heali\
ng optimally. Medical marijuana is not meant specifically to replace your chronic medications, and in fact, I don’t recommend changing a patient’s other medications when they begin using medical marijuana. It may turn out that the patient will soon need less of their current medications, but the time to try other changes is after finding a safe, effective dose and delivery method for the marijuana. Always speak with a physician who prescribed the medication before changing or stopping your medication.

Medical marijuana can be an important addition to the treatment of chronic inflammatory conditions like arthritis. It should be considered along with other modalities such as pharmaceutical medication, diet and lifestyle changes.

We are committed to helping people get on track to ensure compliance with state law and help them receive a state Medical Marijuana Card as quickly as possible. Come visit us and get to know our local and friendly staff, which includes medical marijuana experts, doctors, and a great patient care team.

Peggy Benzing, D.O.
Chief Medical Officer
Liberate Physicians of Venice

Dr. Benzing is board certified in Emergency Medicine and has served the Venice and Englewood area for 20 years. She believes that optimal health and function requires attention to the patient as an individual, adhering to the basic principles of empathy and knowledge. She is a long time medical marijuana advocate and has recently dedicated her full time practice to the study and treatment of patients who could benefit from medical cannabis. She has established Liberate Physicians of Venice to serve the local community.

Daniel P. Smith, M.D.
CEO, Liberate Southwest Florida

Dr. Smith is a board certified anesestheologist and has been practicing as a surgical anesthesiologist in the Port Charlotte area for the past five years. In addition to his private practice at Liberate, Dr. Smith is Medical Director at a local Surgery Center. He received his medical degree from the University of Toledo and holds a BS Summa Cum Laude from Youngstown State University. His post medical school training including the University of Kentucky and the University of Toledo Medical Center. Dr. Smith believes in the efficacy of medical marijuana to treat a broad array of chronic illnesses and diseases, and opened Liberate Physician Centers in 2017 to serve the Southwest Florida community.

If you suffer from a chronic inflammatory painful condition, feel free to contact us at  Liberate Physicians of Venice (941-244-4100) or Liberate SWFLA in Port Charlotte (941-888-3232).

Liberate Physician Centers
3841 Tamiami Trail, Suite B
Port Charlotte, FL 33952

2190 S. Tamiami Trail
Venice, FL 34293

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