How to Choose the Best Cannabis for Pain

October 10, 2023

Pain management is a complex field, with countless solutions available, ranging from over-the-counter pills to therapeutic exercises. Each person’s body experiences pain differently, and the duration of the pain can range from acute to chronic. 

Many people who use cannabis find it to be the best solution for their pain. Unlike pharmaceutical products, cannabis is a natural substance that can provide a list of therapeutic benefits.  In fact, a 2020 report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) states that there is substantial evidence cannabis can be effective in treating chronic pain

For those considering this route, choosing the right strain and product can make a world of difference in your experience and outcome. Let's explore how you can decide on the best cannabis strain for your pain relief. 

First, Consider Consulting Your Doctor 

As cannabis becomes more accepted as a type of medicine, today’s doctors are increasingly willing to prescribe cannabis to their patients. If you are currently receiving other treatments or taking other medications for pain that you are experiencing, ask your doctor if switching to cannabis or adding it to your treatment is right for you. 

When using cannabis under the care of your doctor, ask about obtaining a state medical card. They can assist you with registering for one by going through the state-required process for certifying your condition. For most cannabis products, those with a medical card are eligible for significant savings, which can go a long way when you use these products regularly. 

What Kind of Pain Are You Experiencing? 

Before you can choose the right cannabis product for pain relief, it's crucial to comprehend the nature of your pain. Pain isn’t just pain. Instead, it can be categorized as neuropathic, inflammatory, or nociceptive. 

First, there's neuropathic pain. This type of pain originates from nerve damage. It's often described as a burning or shooting pain and can be the result of conditions such as diabetes, certain infections, or traumatic injuries. Neuropathic pain can be chronic, persistent, and can sometimes be resistant to traditional pain therapies, making alternative remedies like cannabis an appealing choice.

Then we have inflammatory pain. This pain arises from the body's inflammatory response to an injury or ailment. Conditions like arthritis, autoimmune diseases, or simple sprains can lead to inflammation, producing a throbbing or continuous pain. It's essential to note that chronic inflammation can be detrimental, potentially leading to further tissue damage. Hence, seeking relief isn't just about comfort but also about preserving one's health.

Lastly, there's nociceptive pain. This is perhaps what most people think of when they hear the word "pain." It is caused by physical harm or the potential for such harm to the body. Imagine touching a hot stove, experiencing a toothache, or aches after a rigorous workout — these are examples of nociceptive pain. It is the body's immediate response to deter a person from harmful stimuli.

Recognizing which of these pain categories your discomfort falls into can profoundly influence your approach to treatment. The type of pain you're experiencing isn't just a diagnostic tool; it can actively guide your cannabis choice, ensuring a more tailored and effective relief strategy.

Indica vs. Sativa vs. Hybrid

There's an age-old debate in the cannabis community about which type of plant is best for pain. Broadly speaking, cannabis plants can be categorized into three types:

  • Indica: Often associated with full-body effects, like a sensation of relaxation and calm.
  • Sativa: More often connected to uplifting and energetic effects.
  • Hybrid: As the name suggests, these are crossbreeds between Indica and Sativa strains, designed to provide a balanced experience.

For pain relief, many gravitate towards Indica strains or Indica-dominant hybrids. The reasoning? Indica strains tend to deliver a more profound sense of relaxation and calm that can often prove beneficial for those battling chronic pain. 

That said, everyone's body is different. Some might find the energetic uplift of a Sativa strain helps distract from the pain or makes physical activity more bearable.

If you are considering a variety of strains, but do not know which one to choose, you can also ask your budtender at the dispensary to assist you. They are trained to distinguish different strains and the subtle nuances between them to help you find the perfect one that suits your needs and preferences. 

THC and CBD: The Pain Relief Duo

Cannabis contains a myriad of compounds, but when we're talking about pain relief, two major players are THC and CBD.

THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) is the compound known for the classic 'high' associated with cannabis. It can be incredibly effective in masking pain, especially when the pain is severe. It can also help the mind and body relax, providing some stress relief when you are feeling in pain. 

CBD (Cannabidiol) is a non-intoxicating compound in the cannabis plant known for its therapeutic properties, especially in managing pain and inflammation. For those solely looking for pain relief without the 'high', CBD-dominant strains or products can be an excellent choice. On the other hand, products with a balanced ratio of THC to CBD can offer the best of both worlds - pain relief combined with a comfortable, controlled euphoria.

How to Get the Best Cannabis Experience for Pain Relief

Choosing the Right Consumption Method

Now, let's talk about the types of cannabis products you can consider for introducing cannabis into your system:

  • Smoking: The traditional method that provides immediate effects. It can be beneficial for sudden pain flares, and vaporizer options are available for someone who wants to inhale without smoking. 
  • Edibles: These can take anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours to kick in, but their effects are prolonged and can be more intense. For chronic pain sufferers, a consistent dose via edibles can offer extended relief. You can also inquire about lower doses that may not have as intense of a psychoactive experience. 
  • Tinctures and Oils: These products can be placed under the tongue for rapid absorption. They're a discreet way to medicate and can be precisely dosed.
  • Topicals: Creams, balms, and lotions infused with cannabis can be applied directly to the part of the body experiencing pain, especially if it's localized, like joint pain or muscle soreness. 
  • Cannabis Pills: Convenient pills containing cannabis extracts and/or oils that can help with relaxation. 

You may find that you prefer a variety of different consumption methods. If you do not like one method, you can ask a dispensary professional to recommend another that might better suit your preferences. 

Start Low and Go Slow

This mantra should be your guide, especially if you're new to the world of cannabis. Begin with a low dose and monitor how your body reacts. Remember, everyone's body chemistry is unique. Some might find relief with a small amount, while others might need a higher dose.

Trust Your Budtender, but Trust Yourself More

When visiting a dispensary, lean on the expertise of the budtender. They’re often well-versed in the offerings and can provide valuable insights. However, remember that you're the ultimate expert on your body. Use their advice as a starting point, but don't be afraid to experiment and see what works best for you.

If you are using cannabis medicinally under the supervision of your doctor, be sure to also follow their recommendations for consumption. For example, if you experience breathing difficulties, they may recommend that you avoid smoking or vaping and choose another method instead. 

Get the Best Cannabis for Pain Relief in Chicagoland

Cannabis offers an exciting and natural avenue for pain relief, with countless strains and products tailored for various needs. Remember, the journey to finding the perfect cannabis product for pain relief is just that - a journey. Try various strains and consumption methods, listen to your body, and soon enough, you'll find what works best for you. 

If you are living in or near Chicago and you are looking for cannabis to assist you with pain relief, visit the Market 96 dispensary in Oswego today or place an online order for pickup! We’re committed to assisting all residents of Chicagoland with the finest, most expansive, and most thoroughly curated selection of cannabis products.

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