My wrists hurt again, because I got high.
January 14, 2012 10:28 AM   Subscribe

I used to suffer from tendonitis, but I thought I had it licked. Now, after using marijuana, I'm not so sure.

What happens when I smoke is that the soreness and stiffness in my wrists that I associate with inflamed tendons returns. I can think of two rudimentary explanations:

1. It's psychosomatic. I can't rule this out, though there is a conspicuous lack of evidence to support this theory: I don't think about having had tendonitis very often, and I usually forget in between my infrequent smoking sessions that this happens, which is all to say that the idea of wrist pain lacks the sort of recurring presence in my thoughts that I would expect in this case.

2. I am still suffering from an attenuated case of tendonitis, the pain from which I only experience in the more sensitive state of being high. Of course, this begs the question by assuming that being high does in fact make me more sensitive to stimuli like the ones I describe.

My question is which of the two you deem more likely, or whether there is a third explanation that I'm missing. If you can back up your answer with experience or, even better, some literature on the subject, I would be much obliged.
posted by Two Stranger to Health & Fitness (9 answers total)
Sometimes, strangely enough, my leg muscles ache, but in such a way that isometric stretching is delicious relief. I have no explanation for it, but your second suggestion seems possible.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:39 AM on January 14, 2012

Does the pain return while you're high or after? How long does the pain last once you're aware of it?

At various points in my life, I have had various tendon and muscle issues. Being high alleviated the pain, or, at the very least, made it such that the pain was less noticeable. But, without some attentiveness on my part, being high would lead to more pain - because I'd be more relaxed, less attentive to things like posture or positioning, and more likely to use body parts in ways that ultimately caused or exacerbated the aforementioned issues.

That said, either option 1 or 2 seem possible.
posted by VioletU at 11:36 AM on January 14, 2012

This is an odd situation. I smoke to relieve pain, which it generally does the trick. It could be the strain. I find having a good indica with high cbd counts work the best.
I'd say take a break from smoking, or change strains.
posted by handbanana at 11:55 AM on January 14, 2012

I often suffer from minor stress-related headaches, so a few puffs on a joint (I'm very, very careful to limit how much I smoke, as I don't enjoy getting too high) will actually help alleviate pain.
posted by KokuRyu at 12:23 PM on January 14, 2012

I have experienced 2., contrary to my expectations, so yes, it is possible.

It is not a pain reliever for me, instead, I suddenly notice all the aches, pains and sore muscles I have. A massage feels fan-TAS-tic however.
posted by Elysum at 2:01 PM on January 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

My doctor once explained that for some people marijuana doesn't block or temper pain receptors, it activates them. I don't remember the full explanation and maybe there's an MD here who can explain. But the last two times I inhaled, I woke up in the middle of the night in a world of pain. Twice was enough for me and haven't tested the theory in a decade.

Also possible my doctor made this up, but he was friends with Ken Kesey and that crowd - so I generally accept his knowledge about drugs.
posted by crankyrogalsky at 5:46 PM on January 14, 2012

Seconding a good indica. Also, keep your dose moderate--a hit or half-hit at the most initially, possibly more later on. Your objective is to relieve the pain, not get high. Ideally, your half-hit of indica won't cross the threshold of consciousness--you'll simply feel mild pain relief five or ten minutes later. Try to achieve the ultimate body high.
posted by Gordion Knott at 6:49 AM on January 15, 2012

VioletU, the pain usually fades along with the sensation of being high, if maybe at a slower pace. It doesn't return unbidden, thankfully.

You're definitely on to something with the questions of posture and positioning, though. I've found myself in some pretty contorted or tense poses when under the influence, which doesn't help. I've been more conscious of that lately, with no real positive effect on my pseudo-condition, so I think it might be an aggravating factor rather than a fundamental one. Still, I've been considering some type of posture therapy (like the Alexander Technique) for a while, so this might be the time to look into that.

Thanks for your answers, everyone.
posted by Two Stranger at 9:30 AM on January 16, 2012

I think it's definitely 2, and I don't think a change in posture is the reason marijuana does this to you.

A few months ago, a study was published in Nature showing that non-opioid analgesia is mediated by endocannabinoids acting at the CB1 receptor.

They gave study participants NSAIDs sufficient to relieve induced pain several days in a row, then gave them a placebo, which also duly relieved their pain-- the classic placebo effect.

However, when they repeated this procedure, but gave participants Rimonabant (a CB1 receptor blocker) in addition to the placebo, the placebo effect vanished, which showed that, for NSAID pain relief, endocannabinoids are accomplishing the cellular-level actions that make the placebo effect work.

At first, this seems paradoxical given your experience, because a person might think the cannabinoids in marijuana would merely enhance the pain relief you are (presumably) already getting from your own endogenous cannabinoids before you smoke.

Except that some varieties of marijuana-- reputedly sativa, as opposed to indica-- have fairly high levels of a cannabinoid, cannabidiol, which appears to be surprisingly effective at blocking CB1 receptors, just as Rimonabant is.

In short, I think your wrist pain returns when you smoke marijuana because the variety you are smoking has enough cannabidiol to block the actions of the endocannabinoids which normally handle your pain, and block the other cannabinoids in marijuana, as well.
posted by jamjam at 4:12 PM on January 16, 2012

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