Fibromyalgia and The New Jersey Medical Marijuana Program: Dr. Podell’s Perspective
Medical Marijuana can reduce Fibromyalgia pain. We have many anecdotal reports from patients. Recently, strong scientific studies back up these reports. Here are links to two helpful studies:
- Cannabinoids for treatment of chronic non-cancer pain; a systematic review of randomized trials
- Cannabis Use in Patients with Fibromyalgia: Effect on Symptoms Relief and Health-Related Quality of Life
As of May 2013, New Jersey’s Medical Marijuana program has only just begun. The program has its share of administrative hassles, but so far, Dr. Podell’s patients in the program are doing well. For a Fibromyalgia patient to qualify for Medical Marijuana one must be both a New Jersey resident and also be diagnosed with one of the conditions listed below. The relevant condition for persons with severe Fibromyalgia is #2 intractable skeletal muscular spasticity. On physical examination, a physician specialist can usually demonstrate signs of muscular spasticity for most persons whose Fibromyalgia is severe.
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Eligibility for the NJ Medical Marijuana Program
The following conditions are eligible if conventional treatments have not been tolerated or have not been effective:
- Seizure Disorder, including epilepsy
- Intractable skeletal muscular spasticity
- Positive status for human immunodeficiency virus
- Acquired immune deficiency syndrome
The following conditions are also eligible:
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
- Multiple sclerosis (M.S.)
- Terminal cancer
- Muscular dystrophy
Dr. Podell’s office can prescribe Medical Marijuana for persons with Fibromyalgia only. Persons with other qualifying diagnoses can apply to the program through physicians who treat them for those other disorders. A Fibromyalgia patient can qualify for Medical Marijuana if they have not responded well to standard medical treatments and if on physical exam, we can identify evidence of muscular spasticity. Persons with multiple diagnoses, for example Fibromyalgia plus Lupus, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, or rheumatoid arthritis can also qualify if their Fibromyalgia is severe.
You can obtain a list of physicians registered with the NJ Medical Marijuana Program by contacting the program’s office by telephone at (609) 292-0424 or by email.
For Potential Side Effects for Medical Marijuana:
Marijuana is sedating. This “side effect” can help improve sleep. But it can also cause fatigue and “brain fog”. Marijuana tends to increase appetite and promote weight gain. Inhaled marijuana can irritate the lungs, especially for persons with lung disease or asthma. For some individuals Marijuana can cause anxiety, depression, or paranoia. We advise against Marijuana for women who are pregnant or lactating, or for persons with a history of addiction or severe psychiatric illness.