A spinal cord injury (SCI) is an injury to the spinal cord resulting in a change, either temporary or permanent, in the cord’s normal motor, sensory, or autonomic function. Common causes of damage are trauma (car accident, gunshot, falls, sports injuries, etc.) or disease (transverse myelitis, polio, spina bifida, Friedreich’s ataxia, etc.). The spinal cord does not have to be severed in order for a loss of function to occur. Depending on where the spinal cord and nerve roots are damaged, the symptoms can vary widely, from pain to paralysis to incontinence. Spinal cord injuries are described at various levels of “incomplete”, which can vary from having no effect on the patient to a “complete” injury which means a total loss of function.
Treatment of spinal cord injuries starts with restraining the spine and controlling inflammation to prevent further damage. The actual treatment can vary widely depending on the location and extent of the injury. In many cases, spinal cord injuries require substantial physical therapy and rehabilitation, especially if the patient’s injury interferes with activities of daily life.
Research into treatments for spinal cord injuries includes controlled hypothermia and stem cells, though many treatments have not been studied thoroughly and very little new research has been implemented in standard care.
Medical Marijuana Efficacy
Studies have confirmed cannabis’ ability to treat many signature symptoms of SCI including pain, spasticity, insomnia, and depression. Some improvement in bladder and bowel control has also been noted. Cannabinoids, the medicinal compounds found in cannabis, are what offer this amazing diversity of symptom relief to SCI patients.
Official Research Reports
A randomized, double-blinded, crossover pilot study assessing the effect of nabilone on spasticity in persons with spinal cord injury. (Pooyania S, Ethans K, Szturm T, Casey A, Perry D, 2010)
The treatment of spasticity with Delta(9)-tetrahydrocannabinol in persons with spinal cord injury. (Hagenbach U, Luz S, Ghafoor N, Berger JM, Grotenhermen F, Brenneisen R, Mäder M, 2007)
Clinical investigation of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) as an alternative therapy for overactive bladders in spinal cord injury (SCI) patients. (Hagenbach U, Ghafoor N, Brenneisen R, Luz S, Mäder M, 2001)
Treatment of spasticity in spinal cord injury with dronabinol, a tetrahydrocannabinol derivative. (Kogel RW1, Johnson PB, Chintam R, Robinson CJ, Nemchausky BA, 1995)
Cannabis effect on spasticity in spinal cord injury. (Malec J, Harvey RF, Cayner JJ, 1982)
The perceived effects of marijuana on spinal cord injured males. (Dunn M, Davis R, 1974)
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