By Bruce Nicholson

During a time when the opioid crisis in Pennsylvania has led to greater scrutiny surrounding prescribing of opiates, patients seeking pain relief often face limited options.

Although the state has begun to address the opiate misuse problem and ensure they remain available as a treatment option, another type of pain-relief medication has become the de facto treatment for many patients: nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs.)

While many people think that NSAIDs are relatively low-risk medications, a study by the American Journal of Medicine found that annually, around 107,000 Americans are hospitalized for gastrointestinal (GI) complications due to NSAID use.

And at least 16,500 NSAID-related deaths occur among arthritis patients alone. If the Center for Disease Control counted the number of fatal GI toxicity issues caused by NSAIDs in its National Vital Statistics report, it would be listed as the 15th most common cause of death in the United States.

Recent data surrounding heart disease and NSAID use has lead the FDA to require labeling of all NSAID’s including those sold over the counter to warn patients of the potential cardiac risks.

For the many residents desperately looking for a new option to ease pain without the risk for potentially dangerous GI and cardio-vascular complications, a solution may be just around the corner.

Last year, Pennsylvania joined 29 other states that have legalized the cultivation, sale and use of medical marijuana.  

Cannabis has made an incredible breakthrough as a legitimate medication for patients suffering from pain.

Several studies have produced substantial results showing that cannabinoids – the chemical compounds found in medical marijuana – reduce pain and is approximately 20 times more potent than aspirin as an anti-inflammatory.

Additionally, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine analyzed more than 10,000 studies on medical marijuana and found that

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