Managing Chronic Pain

Managing Chronic Pain

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How CBD and a massage therapist changed my life

In 2013, after my daughter was born, I started experiencing extreme pain in my shoulders that would radiate down my arms. At times, it was so bad that I couldn’t sleep. It wasn’t long before I saw my doctor. Because I was often carrying or babywearing my daughter, his first thought was that I may have carpal tunnel syndrome. He prescribed wrist braces, which I dutifully wore, but the pain persisted. At my next visit, he thought there might be nerve damage, so he sent me to a specialist for testing. When that test came back negative, he wrote me a script for pain medication and suggested I may be overdoing it, since my husband was deployed. From there, I went to the chiropractor, which helped some, but did not bring total relief.

Finally, another military spouse, who is also a massage therapist, offered me a deal that I couldn’t refuse: she wanted pictures taken of a yoga maternity session she’d be conducting; since I had photography skills, she offered me an hour of massage in exchange for my taking photos of the session. I accepted, figuring I would get some relief and have some unique photos to add to my portfolio; that hour-long massage, however, changed my life. She told me afterward that the fascia, the fibrous tissue that surrounds muscles, was inflamed and twisted. She recommended I go back to the doctor and explain that to him, while also giving me exercises that could help rehabilitate the fascia. During my next doctor’s visit, I explained to him what she told me, and after examining the area, he realized there was, indeed, inflammation and twisting of the fascia in my shoulder areas and that it was the likely culprit of my pain. He diagnosed me as having myofascial pain syndrome and referred me to a pain-management doctor, whose care I was under for two years.

Here are my issues with pain management:

1. Prescription narcotics don’t get at the root of the problem. Instead of trying to figure out why my fascia was inflamed and how to stop the inflammation, the doctor simply treated the pain by writing me monthly prescriptions for narcotic medications. Some of the medications increased my inflammation, so then I’d be given prescriptions for anti-inflammatory medicines as well.

2. It’s hard to take care of your family. Having chronic pain and taking pain medications made it hard for me to take care of my family, let alone work outside the home. I couldn’t take some of my medications during the day because they impaired my ability to drive. Worst of all, I dropped an unhealthy amount of weight because I often felt too sick to eat.

3. Depression can come into play. Being in pain all the time is frustrating, and I often felt depressed because I couldn’t do all the things I wanted to do. When the pain was severe, I’d become irritable, and it was hard for me to keep going without my children being aware of my physical discomfort and irritability. As any mother living with a disability will tell you, life is hard when you’re disabled, so you have to be creative.

During my last six months of pain management, I started to research CBD oil, which is cannabidiol derived from cannabis, or hemp plants. My then-husband was apprehensive about my using any part of the cannabis plant, but after my research that confirmed it wouldn’t get me high because it didn’t have enough tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC (the part of the cannabis plant that makes you high and what makes cannabis products illegal in most states), and that it could reduce the inflammation that was causing my pain, he eventually agreed I should try it. My research also showed that, unlike the pain medications the doctor had prescribed for me, CBD doesn’t cause physical dependence so does not have the potential for abuse.

Though CBD products are widely available in all states, cannabis is not completely legal in all states—meaning that, in many cases, it comes down to interpretation of the law and the source of the CBD. In 2014, a law was passed that allowed people to cultivate hemp under research programs, and many companies using CBD in their products source their CBD by obtaining hemp through these programs. In other states, CBD is legal as long as the product contains less than .03% THC. Many parents use products that contain higher amounts of THC to meet their children’s medical needs, but they do so knowing that it would be unlikely for the Drug Enforcement Administration or state officials to prosecute them for using CBD products. If you’re considering using CBD products, research the laws for your state. In many areas, you can buy CBD oil in stores; I prefer Koi CBD brand, which sells pure, high-quality products that you can order online.

At my final pain-management appointment, an insurance snafu occurred, and the staff refused to let me see my doctor or refill my prescription. Per friends’ recommendations, I ordered a bottle of CBD oil from a reputable facility in California. The pain relief I got from CBD was not immediate, but 20 minutes after taking it, I was comfortable again. And the best part? I wasn’t high, and I could play with my kids again. It also helped with a lot of the withdrawal symptoms that can occur when you suddenly stop taking pain medications, and I regained my appetite almost immediately. The only downside to CBD oil is the taste; to tolerate it, I mix it into cherry juice, which, initially, I took three times a day. Within three months of using CBD oil, I didn’t need it on a daily basis, and now I use it only as needed when I have a flare-up.

Many use CBD oil for stress and anxiety, and I know some parents who have had success using it to help treat their children’s seizures and severe attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Georgia Representative Allen Peake is a huge supporter of medical cannabis and CBD products, and has been in the media for helping families obtain CBD oil for their children. CBD oil is changing the lives of many families—and it made me a better, happier, and more comfortable mom.

Do you suffer from chronic pain? How have you dealt with it? Has anyone in your family benefited from CBD oil?

Tara Glenn is a Solo Mom of four who currently resides in Pensacola, Florida. She has a background in public affairs, writing, and photography. Tara spent five years in the Navy and now volunteers with the Civil Air Patrol as a public affairs officer. She enjoys working with small businesses as a ghostwriter as well as encouraging her children’s love for aviation in her free time—the running joke being that she only creates pilots, as all of her children love to fly!

Please feel free to contact us with any comments or questions.

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