THC-induced aches
January 23, 2007 4:04 PM   Subscribe

Why do my muscles ache after I smoke pot?

Whenever I smoke pot, by the time I go to bed my low back and legs are incredibly achy and sore. I have mild scoliosis and have some occasional back pain, but nothing like this. Nothing seems to help the pain - stretching, lying on the floor, Tylenol, yoga. It happens on days I exercise and days I don't, and I always stretch after exercising. I drink plenty of water and am in good health overall. Am a female in my mid-30's, been smoking pot for many many years. It's *almost* to the point where I think about quitting smoking, but I'd rather just cure the aches.
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Do you stretch while stoned? I've always found that being stoned puts me in touch with my body in ways that just don't happen straight, and that getting into a series of stretches stoned will cure aches and pains that have been nagging subtly for weeks beforehand.

Something else you might care to look into is an inversion table. I bought one of these second-hand a couple years ago, and now my hip doesn't hurt any more.
posted by flabdablet at 4:50 PM on January 23, 2007

It's a little unclear whether you're saying you ache immediately after smoking pot (i.e. while high) or after smoking pot (i.e. no longer high).

Perhaps with that clarification a better answer might be possible?
posted by jckll at 4:53 PM on January 23, 2007

Pot heightens some of your senses, maybe?
posted by kuujjuarapik at 4:57 PM on January 23, 2007

Try getting a lighter bong.
posted by found missing at 6:05 PM on January 23, 2007 [3 favorites]

Right - clearing up whether this happens immediately after smoking or whether it happens later would help the diagnosis. I enjoy going out to the movies... on weed!... and have to consciously remind myself to shift my position and stretch now and then. Otherwise, ensconced in the purple velvet filthiness of the chair, I will sit completely still the entire time, and afterwards my muscles are aching from the rigour of my slug impersonation.

If, however, the pain occurs during the high, that's totally beyond me and runs counter to every truth I hold dear. Have you tried varying your intake mechanism? Maybe it's the smoke, and you're just becoming more sensitive to that? Try ingesting it instead or using a vaporizer and see if that helps.

found missing: Thank you. That made my day.
posted by krippledkonscious at 6:59 PM on January 23, 2007

follow up from the OP:

The pain occurs when I'm coming down from being high, not immediately after I've smoked. Sometimes I'm still a little high when I go to bed, but usually by that point I'm just tired. Either way I ache. I've tried stretching while high and that doesn't help. I'm usually moving around a bit during the evening, so I don't think it's from sitting in one spot all night.
posted by jessamyn at 7:43 PM on January 23, 2007

Short and likely answer is that there are cannabinoid receptors involved in neurological systems involved in the perception of pain.

All of the cannabinoid receptors in the body, of course, exist to respond to neurochemicals generated within your body. It is the interaction of the cannabinoids in marijuana (most particularly THC) that cause its psychoactive effects by acting on these receptors.

The interactions between these sensory systems and the chemicals in marijuana are complex. I know an analgesic effect is generally claimed for marijuana, I think it is more complicated than that. I can tell you, from my personal, anecdotal and entirely unscientific perspective, physical-feeling aches and pains are not uncommon. I've always chalked up to some unfortunate tangling of the cannabinoid cocktail with the relevant receptor sites.

I'd try smoking less, cutting down frequency, changing your supply if you can, getting the highest quality supply you can manage, and quitting for a while. It seems to me it is a complaint I've seen associated with doing it all the time, doing a lot at once, lousy weed and (I hate to say it). You could try different OTC painkillers as well. But pain systems are funny, so giving it up, or mostly, may be the only option.
posted by nanojath at 7:53 PM on January 23, 2007

sorry - last paragraph: "...lousy weed and, (I hate to say it) getting older."

I guess I really did hate to say it.
posted by nanojath at 8:23 PM on January 23, 2007

Rebound. You smoke it, your muscles relax. They tighten back up, possibly in positions they wouldn't have gotten into before they relaxed, you feel it as tightness and achiness. Some people have the same problem with prescription muscle relaxants.
posted by Cricket at 10:37 PM on January 23, 2007

I can't answer your question, but have noticed the exact same problems the day after drinking alcohol (literally drinking any amount beyond a beer or glass of wine).
posted by sablazo at 5:04 AM on January 24, 2007

Perhaps you unknowingly tighten up while under the influence. Certain substances (cough) give me an uncomfortable body high where I am very tensed - sometimes I realize it, sometimes I don't. Once I finally come down, I am sore usually in my lower back like you.
posted by infinityjinx at 7:08 AM on January 24, 2007

Please consider an extremely speculative explanation in terms of your CerebroSpinal Fluid (CSF) pressure, marijuana and, tangentially, your scoliosis.

As you may know, your central nervous system, that is, your brain and spinal cord, contains a small amount of fluid under pressure -- the CSF. In a sense, the CNS is a water balloon within a larger water balloon-- your body. In the brain, the CSF primarily fills the ventricles, which are mainly deep within the brain; in the spinal cord the CSF fills the subarachnoid space which surrounds the main body of the cord's neurons. Among other things, the CSF functions as a mechanical cushion.

There are a number of anecdotal accounts (here are two from pro-marijuana sites) that claim marijuana can reduce and sometimes sharply reduce CSF pressure, especially when it is pathologically high.

If marijuana does reduce your CSF pressure, the effect is probably quite small (normal CSF pressure is only about two percent above ordinary atmospheric pressure) in numerical terms, but that effect could be amplified by your scoliosis. In people with scoliosis the spine curves from side to side, and sufferers compensate for this by tensing various muscles around the spine. If scoliosis makes the spine more than usually sensitive to changes in itself in order to ensure stability in the face of more than ordinary fragility, the partial deflation of the sub-arachnoid space could cause the muscles around the spine to tighten up even further, leading to your intractable pain at the end of a day in which you have smoked marijuana.

If this is true I'm not sure what you could do about it. Very high thyroid hormone levels cause elevated CSF pressures, but I did not find an unequivocal statement that thyroid hormone in low or normal ranges has any bearing on it. But if you do have low thyroid, measuring your temperature can give you an indication of it, and I might go that route if I were you.
posted by jamjam at 3:19 PM on January 24, 2007

Try low dose aspirin- the 81 mg cherry flavor chewable kind. Do the one a day thing for a couple days and see if there's a difference. And make sure you're eating healthy.
posted by Area Control at 8:41 PM on January 26, 2007

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