Muscle tightness

Muscle tightness or spasms involve the involuntary contraction and inability to relax the muscle. With the potential to affect different areas of the body, such symptoms are associated with high-intensity exercise and medical conditions such as Parkinson’s disease. They can be treated with medical cannabis, which reduces inflammation and the associated sensation of pain. Such medication has been found to improve tremor rigidity and movement in those with Parkinson’s.

Learn more about symptoms

Symptom definition

Muscle spasms may also be referred to as cramps and involve the involuntary and forceful contraction of a muscle or group of muscles. There is also a chronic condition known as Dystonia, which involves uncontrolled and sometimes painful muscle contractions. Such symptoms are commonly experienced in the thighs, calves, feet, hands, and arms, with possible causes including abnormal nerve stimulation. This may lead to the tearing of the muscle, tendon, or ligament tissue.

Muscle spasms may occur as a result of:

  • Dehydration
  • Electrolyte imbalances
  • Muscular tension
  • Increased demand of blood flow
  • Overexertion of the muscle(s)

Spasms are also associated with underlying medical conditions such as arteriosclerosis, nerve compression, and neurodegeneration.

Standard Treatment

Treatment isn’t required in many instances, as the symptoms disappear naturally. However, physical therapy/physiotherapy is often recommended for those individuals who regularly suffer from spasms. Medications such as diazepam may also be used for the suppression of muscle spasms. Doses from 2-10mg at night to 2-5mg three times per day might be prescribed, with higher doses often proving effective where there is coexisting anxiety. The dose may need to be reduced, depending on the patient’s clinical response.

If muscle spasms occur regularly with severe levels of discomfort then a clinician may be consulted for the identification of any underlying causes. Leg swelling, redness, and muscle weakness may all indicate the need for such medical attention. A muscle relaxant such as Baclofen may then be used, with a prescription of 5-10mg three times a day. A course of light physical therapy might also be recommended.

How medical cannabis could help

There is plenty of anecdotal evidence to support the use of medical cannabis for the alleviation of muscle spasms, with a high number of Parkinson’s sufferers opting to self-medicate. A mixture of THC/CBD whole cannabis extract may be used in the treatment of muscle spasms. Alternatively, nabiximols such as Sativex with an equal concentration of THC/CBD may be taken.

Medical cannabis is known to reduce the symptoms of spasticity/muscle stiffness by at least 20% in nearly 80% of patients. This is, at least partly, due to the reduction of inflammation which is one of the primary causes of muscle spasms. Clinical studies have shown that cannabis lessens the impact of muscular injury on the immune system, with inflammatory proteins being deactivated by the psychoactive cannabinoid THC. This also results in the stimulation of the endocannabinoid system, reducing the amount of pain associated with the inflammatory response.

FAQs about Medical Cannabis

FAQs about Medical Cannabis FAQs about Medical Cannabis
Is medical cannabis legal in the UK?

Yes. Cannabis-based medicinal products (CBMPs) have been legal since the 1st of November 2018, when they moved from a Schedule 1 product to a Schedule 2 product. This reflects their potential for medical use.

Who is allowed to prescribe medical cannabis in the UK?

Cannabis-based medicinal products, also known as CBMPs, can be prescribed by private consultants, when appropriate, within their specialty area when there is unmet clinical need.

In the UK cannabis medicines are accessed primarily via private clinics. However, any specialist physician can prescribe cannabis medicines. GROW® is here to provide education and support to any specialists looking to prescribe or just to find out more.

Is medical cannabis available on the NHS?

There are 3 licensed medicines which contain cannabinoids – Epidiolex for some forms of epilepsy, Sativex for multiple sclerosis (MS), and Nabilone for chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting (CINV). However, only a handful of prescriptions have been issued in the NHS to date.

Most cannabis-based medicinal products (CBMPs) are instead unlicensed, and they must be written on a private prescription, typically issued by private clinics specialising in medical cannabis treatment.

What cannabis medicines are available?

Cannabis medicines come in multiple forms; flowers, often referred to as herbal cannabis (to be vaporised, rather than smoked), oils (taken under the tongue) and capsules. Cannabis medicines come in high-THC, high-CBD and balanced varieties.

Smoking medical cannabis is illegal. Medical cannabis can instead be taken in different forms depending on the desired speed of onset and duration of action, which is discussed between the patient and their doctor.

Which clinic should I use?

It’s important to find a clinic that works for you. Most importantly you need to find a Doctor that specialises in your condition. For example, patients with pain will need to see pain specialist, while those with a mental health condition must see a psychiatrist.

Which pharmacies can I use?

It’s important for patients to know they can use any pharmacy that supplies the appropriate medicines in the UK.

Some clinics have a preferred pharmacy but will be able to send prescriptions to others if needed. If patients have any questions about available medicines, they can contact IPS Pharma.

What should I do before my consultation?

To speed up the process, patients should bring a copy of their medical records. These are then forwarded to the clinic in advance of the first consultation.

Is medical cannabis the same as over-the-counter CBD?

No. Cannabis-based medicinal products (CBMPs) are only prescribed by GMC-registered specialist doctors. As they are medicinal, CBMPs are regulated by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA); which ensures the safety, quality, and effectiveness of medicines in the UK.

Over-the-counter (OTC) CBD products can be purchased without a prescription in pharmacies, health food shops, or online. These may come in forms such as oil tinctures, capsules, or vapes. They are not medicinal products as they are regulated by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) as a food supplement, with a 0.3% limit on THC.

What if I don’t get a prescription?

Patients are free to seek a second opinion from another clinic. Patients should ensure the clinic has communicated their reasons for deciding not to prescribe. It may be that they feel you should try other medicines before trying cannabis medicines, or that they need to see more information about your medical history before they are happy to prescribe.

How can I learn more about medical cannabis?

For patient enquiries - [email protected]

For doctor enquiries - [email protected]

For all other enquiries – [email protected]

Healthcare professionals can also sign up to our Doctor Portal.

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