Dystonia is a rare, barely understood neurological movement disorder. It can be caused by physical trauma, particularly to the brain, as well as by certain classes of drugs, known as antipsychotics, used to treat certain kinds of severe mental illness. Other neurological conditions, such as Parkinson’s, which cause brain deterioration, can also create what are called “dystonic effects,” – also known as extreme rigidity of muscles.
There were almost no formal studies about the impact of medical marijuana on Dystonia before 2000, and as of now, there are very few published academic or medical reports that either users or their caregivers can access easily. Furthermore, conventionally used, widely administered drugs to treat the condition, including Baclafen, as well as Botox injections, often do not work, are highly expensive, and many patients report severe allergic reactions to the same.
That is the bad news. The good news is that medical marijuana (with the THC attached) works, like a dream, for many if not most Dystonia patients, if they can get it. It is perhaps the most effective and therefore important pharmacological tool available for managing the condition in any effective, long term manner.
Dystonia is characterized not only by constant spasming and contorting muscles, but also neuropathic pain that accompanies the same. It can appear in just about any extremity, including hands. Painful and disabling dystonias can occur in the neck, shoulder and facial areas – preventing those who suffer untreated of the ability to walk, speak or move. Medical pot cannot “cure” this condition or its downside effects. That said, in many cases, it can almost completely remove the pain, and in many cases, literally cause the muscles themselves to relax and unclench to the point that even severely disabled patients are able to move and function normally.
Finding doctors who are informed enough about this condition, not to mention who will help desperate patients obtain the drug in the UK is not an easy task. The best thing to do is contact a legal cannabinoid maker (such as GW Pharmaceuticals) and try to obtain Sativex – the mouth spray made from the whole cannabis plant. Marinol, a generic drug made from synthetic THC also works but it is hard to find and expensive in the UK. CBD seems to provide some relief from some of the muscle spasming that is characteristic of the condition, although not as much as when combined with high levels of THC. CBD also does not provide relief from the pain that still seems to be residual in many patients after treatment with cannabinoids that exclude THC.