Medical marijuana for pain vs. inflammation
Jayatilleke goes on to discuss the use of medical marijuana for treatment of chronic pain, a use many see as a benefit to the substance. This may be what is sparking the discussion of using medical marijuana for rheumatoid arthritis, as chronic pain is often a side effect.
She says, "of the RA patients I see, few of them discuss use of marijuana as a major part of their symptom control. However, those who do [admit to using marijuana] find it helps with some of the muscle pains and achiness in their joints. Anecdotally, it has not offered enough relief to change the other RA-targeted treatments that they take, although it has allowed some patients to take fewer pain relievers overall ... Pain is obviously a major part of RA and other rheumatologic conditions, and anything that can safely reduce people's pain and improve function without exposing them to other side effects is worth studying and considering. However, a major factor in the pain related to RA is inflammation, and I have not yet seen anything that proves medical marijuana can alleviate inflammation in RA. Until we study this, I would consider medical marijuana more of an experimental treatment for chronic pain rather than for RA, because as we know well, controlling pain in RA, while an important goal, is not enough to prevent inflammation from causing damage to joints."
She summarizes her feelings on the use of medicinal marijuana, especially in regard to rheumatoid arthritis, "I am a little hesitant to wholeheartedly support medical marijuana for the treatment of RA. I look forward to future studies which may look at these questions in more depth."