Let’s Talk About Medical Marijuana for Fibromyalgia 

By Karen Berger, PharmD, Medical Writer

What is Fibromyalgia?


Fibromyalgia is a common condition where you may experience widespread musculoskeletal pain, along with fatigue, sleep, memory, and mood issues.


Symptoms of fibromyalgia may begin to occur after a physical trauma, surgery, infection, or psychological stress. Or, symptoms may occur more gradually, without a triggering event. 


What are the statistics? 


According to the CDC, fibromyalgia affects four million Americans; that’s two percent of the population. Other estimates put the number much higher, at up to 12 million Americans. Most patients who suffer from fibromyalgia are women- women are twice as likely as men to have fibromyalgia. 


What are the symptoms? 


The most common symptoms include pain, stiffness, fatigue, depression, anxiety, insomnia, problems with thinking or memory, and headaches/migraines. Other symptoms may include: numbness, TMJ, and stomach problems. 


These symptoms, left untreated, can lead to many complications: 

  • More hospitalizations 
  • Lower quality of life 
  • Higher rates of depression 
  • Higher death rates from suicide
  • Higher rates of other types of arthritis such as osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis 


What is the usual treatment for fibromyalgia? 


Often, fibromyalgia is managed by a rheumatologist. Patients are treated with prescription and OTC medications. Also recommended is: yoga/stress management, exercise, good sleep habits, and talk therapy. 


Can medical marijuana help with the symptoms of fibromyalgia?


In a 2019 observational study, fibromyalgia patients who used medical marijuana experienced a decrease in pain intensity; over 81% of patients had a response. Side effects were mild, with some patients experiencing dizziness, dry mouth, or stomach symptoms. The study concluded that medical marijuana is safe and effective for the treatment of fibromyalgia symptoms. Another smaller study had similar conclusions


Although more research needs to be done specifically on medical marijuana for fibromyalgia symptoms, medical marijuana seems to be worth a try in conjunction with other prescription and lifestyle treatments. Consult your doctor for more information. 


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