Integro Medical Clinics has announced its new collaboration with the UK’s national back pain charity, BackCare.
The two organisations, which share a goal to provide support and relief to the millions of people living with back pain in the UK, have joined forces to collaborate on a number of projects around education and research.
The first event, a webinar, looking at the use of cannabis medicines to help chronic back pain with a panel of medical specialists will take place in late May.
Established in 1968, BackCare – the National Back Pain Association – has been educating the public on ways to alleviate and help prevent back pain for over 50 years.
The organisation, whose patron is HRH Prince of Wales, provides practical and emotional support to people living with back pain through education, information, advice and a network of UK-based branches.
BackCare helps a whole range of people living with back pain, whether the cause is through injury, musculoskeletal disorders such as Scoliosis, Axial Spa, or Spina Bifida or as a consequence of another underlying health condition including Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Parkinson’s disease or cancer.
Integro Medical Clinic helps patients through prescription cannabis medicines, when conventional approaches to pain have failed. In the case of back pain, cannabis is widely acknowledged to be extremely helpful in providing relief and allowing patients to better maintain their normal lives and activities.
With the shared goals and natural synergy between the two organisations, a collaboration and association on projects such as webinars, education and research was a natural fit.
Denice Logan Rose, executive director, BackCare, said: “It is good to be collaborating with Integro Clinics, a like-minded organisation and one that is interested in investigating new approaches to back pain management.”
What is back pain?
Back and neck pain are extremely common complaints of the spine and can affect both men and women at any age.
Thankfully most back pain is not caused by anything serious and will usually get better over time. However, sometimes the pain can become long-term or severe, and interfere with every-day activities and sleep, and effect your mood, making you feel low or anxious.
Lower back pain or lumbosacral spine pain can be broadly divided into two categories – mechanical pain and nerve compressive pain.
Mechanical back pain can be caused by an acute strain of the spine’s mechanics, in other words the spines muscle discs, facet joints and ligaments, leading to inflammation and painful muscle spasm.
It is called mechanical because it refers to the mechanics of the spine and often occurs after unusual exertion, especially when the back has not been kept fully fit by regular movement or exercise.
Nerve compression pain results from pressure or irritation on the spinal nerve roots that leave the spine. This causes nerve pain often down the leg, ’sciatica,’ and numbness and even muscle weakness in the leg or foot.
Sometimes, it can be difficult to identify what exactly is causing back-pain and this is called non-specific back pain.
Very rarely, if your leg becomes very weak or your foot becomes floppy, ‘foot drop’ or your bladder or bowel and surrounding areas become numb, then urgent medical attention is needed.
In many ways, the causes of neck pain can, surprisingly, result from similar causes to lower back pain. These can also include ageing in the cervical spine and receiving repeated injuries, that may not have actually caused pain at the time of impact. ‘Wear and tear’ over time can weaken the connective tissue that makes up the disc and once the connective tissue is weak sudden stress or whiplash may injure the disc more easily. Neck pain can result from many causes including bones spurs, herniated disc, muscle strain, stenosis, myelopathy and arthritis.
“A doctor or physiotherapist can generally listen to your symptoms and examine you, to help you decide what sort of back pain you have and advise you accordingly, explained Dr Anthony Ordman, senior clinical adviser and hon. clinical director at Integro Medical Clinics.
“You can be assured that all of the pain specialists at Integro Clinics Ltd are highly experienced consultants in pain medicine.
“In their training, these clinicians will have learned all about the many medical conditions that can lead to back pain; a slipped or prolapsed disc causing back pain and sciatica, arthritis and facet joint syndrome, pinched nerves, spinal stenosis , degenerative disc disease and bulging or herniated discs and segmental instability.
“All of these conditions can lead to the debilitating symptoms mentioned above, muscle spasms and cramping, stiffness, leg pain, numbness and weakness. These can all be painful and debilitating conditions to live with and can have a significant impact on a person’s quality of life.”
Conventional treatment for back and neck pain ranges from pain medication, anti-inflammatories, physical therapy and manipulation, cognitive behavioural therapy to surgery in the most extreme cases.
Cannabis medicines can help manage the mechanical and nerve pain associated with back and neck pain by rebalancing the body’s natural endocannabinoid pain-processing system and having an anti-inflammatory effect on inflamed body tissues.
When used carefully, cannabis medicines can also help improve your sleep to allow better healing and also lift your mood and treat anxiety. In many cases, cannabis medicines can do this more gently than conventional medicines and sometimes with less risk of dependency.
Sophie Hayes specialist cannabis nurse at Integro Medical Clinics added: “Back and neck pain are really common symptoms amongst our patients. Cannabis medicines can be a very effective pain management tool in these cases. However, the clinical team at Integro always advise and support our patients to continue to explore the underlying injury or cause of the chronic pain alongside their cannabis medicine prescriptions.”
The patient’s story
Jessica is a 51-year-old mum with a large family and a very physically active lifestyle that became affected by chronic pain in her neck, resulting from a skiing accident several years before.
“Five or six years ago I had a nasty fall skiing and remember at the time my neck flipping backwards and really smacking my head on the ice,” she recalled.
“I was not immediately in pain and it took about a year for a creeping pain in my neck and down my shoulder to develop. The pain would come and go but I found that it was really limiting the amount of exercise I was able to do. It also made me extremely grumpy and generally out of sorts.”
“My sleep at night was very disturbed as I had pain down my left side and could not get comfortable.
“I had repeated MRI scans over 2 years to monitor the situation. I was told that I was suffering from degenerative C4/5 discs. This was causing nerve pain from pressure on my spinal cord. I had several steroid injections and tried physical manipulation, but this only made the pain worse.
Jessica continued: “Eventually my specialist recommended I have an operation called anterior cervical discectomy. This involves opening the front of the neck, removing the degenerated discs and replacing them with artificial discs in a titanium cage.
“I was very nervous about this type of intervention and I had read about the effect cannabis medicines can have upon the type of chronic pain I was suffering. Within two weeks of starting the cannabis oil (a careful mix of THC and CBD) my sleep massively improved and the pain lessened.
“I was still aware of slight twinges if I worked out too vigorously but if I took things at a sensible pace the pain was really improved and much more tolerable. All in all a great result andI would recommend trying this approach to anyone suffering a similar condition to my own.”
Dr Ordman added: “Integro Clinics always recommends remaining under the care and treatment of your GP and specialist for your condition, while using cannabis based medicines, and the Integro clinical team would always prefer to work in collaboration with them.”
For further information, or to make an appointment for a medical consultation, contact www.integroclinics.com,
Email: Contact@integroclinics.com and follow @clinicsintegro on Twitter