Neuropathy is a condition that affects over three million people a year in the United States alone. Also known as peripheral neuropathy, its symptoms include numbness, weakness, lack of coordination or frequent falls, extreme sensitivity to touch, muscle weakness or paralysis, and stabbing or burning pain in the hands and feet. All of these can have a severe impact on a person’s quality of life, and finding an effective, side effect-free way to manage them can be a challenge. However, recent scientific studies have found that cannabis topicals might be well-suited for the job.
Neuropathy is a result of trauma to the peripheral nerves, which are located outside of the brain and spinal cord. These nerves connect the central nervous system (CNS) to our sensory organs. If one or more of them become damaged, peripheral neuropathy ensues.
Nerves can be damaged by various conditions including alcoholism and diabetes, cancer (and the chemotherapy used to treat it), vitamin B deficiency, autoimmune diseases, toxicity, drug interactions, and even occupational hazards such as strenuous physical exertion over a long period of time. When the peripheral nerves are damaged, they begin to send faulty signals to the brain.
Unlike nociceptive pain (the kind caused by pricking your finger or hitting your knee on the table), neuropathic pain does not start abruptly or dissipate quickly — nor is it as responsive to typical pain medications. It’s a chronic condition, and people diagnosed with it live in a constant state of pain. The severity can increase or decrease throughout the day, depending on various factors.