Cerebral Palsy Patients: Can Medical Marijuana Help Them?

There are many people with cerebral palsy who have muscular stiffness and chronic pain as part of their daily lives. In many cases, cerebral palsy (CP) begins in the womb or shortly after birth and is caused by faulty brain development that affects a child’s speech as well as their ability to move their muscles. This is one of the most severe and potentially disabling movement disorders that affects approximately 2% of the population (65 years of age and older). In children, it is one of the most common causes of motor disability, causing difficulties with involuntary movements, motor skills, stuttering, and stiff muscles. The end result is that the musculoskeletal system is also harmed as a result. There are many cases that do not respond favorably to cannabis use despite the fact that severe CP symptoms can be reduced or even eliminated without using narcotics and instead using cannabis instead.

Cannabis contains a variety of cannabinoids, some of which are more well known than others. Cannabinoids have an impact on the endocannabinoid system, which is formed by fats and neurotransmitters. The body’s endocannabinoid system is modulated by the presence of cannabis, which binds to CB1 and CB2 receptors.

For more information on how the endocannabinoid system functions, please refer to our page on endocannabinoids.

Treatment of Cerebral Palsy Patients with Medical Cannabis

The use of cannabis can help relieve several symptoms that are related to cerebral palsy. A lot of research is currently being done on cerebral palsy symptoms, but there aren’t any clear benefits discovered yet, but previous cannabis research for conditions and symptoms similar to cerebral palsy is encouraging. Check out the list below to find out more about how cannabis might help with your specific symptoms:

Spasticity

People who have cerebral palsy are more likely to have spastic, or rigid, muscles. Muscles that are usually more toned can make it more difficult to move the arms, legs, hands, and feet, since the muscles are more tense. When this happens, it can cause discomfort and make it harder to move.

For more knowledge on how marijuana can help to alleviate this cerebral palsy symptom, make sure you check out our guide on spasticity.

Chronic Pain

Chronic Pain patients frequently endure chronic agony as a result of muscular spasms and tightness. Cannabis can assist with chronic pain, but CBD is a non-intoxicating option for pain alleviation for people who are concerned about the psychotropic effects of THC.

On our page about chronic pain, you’ll find more information here.

Insomnia

There are some patients with cerebral palsy who have difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep as a result of their spasticity and discomfort in their muscles. Using cannabis for any of these issues may help you sleep better, however there is also a substance called CBN (cannabinol) that can provide the same effect.

If you would like additional information on how cannabis can help with sleeplessness, please refer to our sleeplessness guide.

Seizures

There is a possibility that some patients with cerebral palsy may experience seizures due to the damage to the brain caused by the disease. Several studies have shown that cannabis may decrease the production of neurotransmitters that activate neurons by increasing endocannabinoid function through the endocannabinoid system. It is strongly recommended that you consult with your physician before deciding to use medical cannabis if you tend to have seizures. This is because certain anti-epileptic drugs have been shown to interact with medical cannabis.

For more information on epilepsy treatment, see our epileptic page.

Treatment of pediatric patients with cannabis

Seizures and muscular spasticity, as well as chronic discomfort, are common in children with cerebral palsy. Up to 50% of children with cerebral palsy experience seizures in addition to muscular spasticity and chronic pain, as established by recent studies. Since this is a lifelong disease that can begin in infancy, it is important to understand how cannabis can benefit children who suffer from this disease. According to parents who are worried about the effects of THC on children, CBD should be fine to use in children with a doctor’s approval. For this reason, CBD oil is very popular among parents.

During a study involving 25 toddlers aged from 1 to 17 years old, cannabis was tested for the presence of complex motor disorders, including cerebral palsy. This was in a group of 25 toddlers. While the sample size of the research is small, and both groups received various combinations of CBD and THC, overall it showed encouraging findings for children. In this study, patients receiving CBD showed improvements in spasticity, aberrant muscle movements, pain severity, and overall quality of life in comparison to patients who did not use CBD.

Keep these factors in mind

In order to determine whether cannabis therapy is right for you, it’s essential to speak with your doctor. This is because it may not be suitable for everyone, depending on the severity of your condition. In order to provide patients with the most effective care, physical, speech, and occupational therapists should work together with appropriate specialists. It is possible that some CP patients who experience difficulties with their speech will notice an improvement in their ability to speak. However, there is no evidence to suggest that this is the case.

Cerebral Palsy Types: Understanding the Differences

The term CP refers to a group of disorders that are accompanied by problems with mobility and posture. This disorder can be caused by damage to the developing brain or an abnormal development of the brain. There are times when it can be seen in the womb or at birth, and the symptoms can last a lifetime.

Cerebral palsy can be classified into the following:

Spastic Cerebral Palsy

Patients with Spastic CP have increased muscle tone, resulting in their muscles becoming stiff and unresponsive. It is the most common form of CP, affecting 80% of those who suffer from it. The following are some of the types of this condition:

  • Spastic diplegia/diparesis – The majority of individuals with this type of CP have leg-based muscle stiffness. Because of restricted hip and lower leg muscles that cause the legs to turn in, pull together, and cross at the knees, people with this form of CP have difficulties walking.
  • Spastic hemiplegia/hemiparesis – The arm and half of the body are affected by this form of CP. The majority of the time, it is more severe in the arm than the leg.
  • Spastic quadriplegia/quadriparesis – A progressive and irreversible form of CP, it primarily affects the arms, legs, face, and torso areas of the body. This type generally prevents people from speaking and may result in intellectual disabilities, epileptic episodes, or issues with eyesight or hearing.

Dyskinetic Cerebral Palsy

Among the symptoms of cerebral palsy caused by this form of cobalamin include athetoid, choreoathetosis, and dystonic CP. Dyskinetic CP patients have difficulty controlling their hands, arms, legs, and feet, which in turn causes them to move uncontrollably at times, making their hands, arms, legs, and feet move slowly or rapidly and jerkily.

Ataxic Cerebral Palsy

Patients with this type of cerebral palsy may struggle with issues related to balance and coordination, resulting in unsteadiness when walking, a struggle to control their hands or arms while reaching for an object, or their ability to control their hands or arms at all times.

Mixed Cerebral Palsy

A patient who is diagnosed with this type of CP has a combination of the three categories listed above. It is likely that the majority of children with mixed cerebral palsy will suffer from spastic-dyskinetic cerebral palsy.

A Patient’s Perspective

It was reported in 2011, that a study was conducted that analyzed survey responses from individuals with cerebral palsy regarding pain management options. The results of this study, which looked at the locations of discomfort of 87 patients over the previous six months, as well as the various pain therapies that they tried, revealed. The majority of the patients, 71% of them, reported that their most painful area was their lower back, while 58% reported hip and leg discomfort. It was found that 5 percent of the people interviewed had used cannabis to alleviate pain in the past or are currently doing so. The preference for most patients is to seek physical treatment in order to relieve their suffering.

According to the research, which was conducted on just ten people, this research further refutes the notion that cannabis is harmless and shows the necessity for more research in this area, since patients are interested in using it to treat their CP symptoms.

*DigiDrs is not offering this as professional medical advice. Do not attempt to self diagnose, or prescribe treatment based on the information provided in these pages. Consult a physician before making decisions on the treatment of any of these medical conditions.

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