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Side effects of smoking CANNABIS regularly.

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Hello, I have been having a tough time figuring out what is wrong with me so I thought I would try to talk to some doctors online. My problems are located within my lower back and downward, although the majority of the issue is my genital area.

I smoke cannabis medically for anxiety, various pains, and occasional relaxation and I have been doing this for a few years with no problem, but I had to stop a few months ago because after doing so I had strange, hard to pinpoint, pain/tingling/numb feeling in my genital, buttocks, lower back, and thighs. I thought it could just be the drug and be psychosomatic but the feeling would persist long after the effects of cannabis, in fact it would last days. I was also having bladder and bowel problems, not being able to void the bladder, constipation, constantly having the urge to urinate and then not. I also couldn't clench my buttocks or genital muscles. I ended up taking a long break from smoking so I could try to figure out what was wrong.

I went to the doctor and he recommended an ultrasound of my scrotum, but that lead to nothing. The pain was less and the numb feeling went away as the days went by without smoking. I went to a chiropractor if he could figure out what was going on, and he found that I had a lot of discs in my spine out of place, mostly in my pelvis, which would explain the pains I was having. Also, that made sense because a few months before I fell off while longboarding and landed on my side very hard, but I thought nothing of it and brushed the pain off as soreness. After a few sessions I was feeling better. I had some lab work done on my urine and blood and they said I was fine apart from high blood sugar (however, they said since I wasn't fasting it was fine). I went to massage therapist and she said that all my muscles were very very tight. I have been going to a physical therapist for a week and they found that my legs were much weaker than they should be for someone as active as me. She also said I had a pelvic tilt, which could have been because of the discs being out of place for so long. She recommended some exercises to help and they seemed to help.

The other day I tried smoking again to see what would happen, since I had been able to get back to most of my other activities. I kept a log to keep track of how I felt. Within a few minutes it started up again, numbness, sensitivity and tingling in the genital region, also a bit in the thighs and buttocks. My legs were also much weaker. Within 15 minutes it got worse and I had to urinate numerous times throughout the night, not to mention I tried to have bowel movements but not much happened. My scrotum was at full tightness at all times and the tip of my penis was colder than normal. This continued throughout the night but within an hour or two it subsided.

Now it is the next day, I feel much better than most days I did after smoking before but I still have similar symptoms. Inability to flex/clench my groin muscles weaker legs, and early in the day I had some slight tingling in my scrotum.

I am able to give up cannabis, I would prefer not to, but the issue I feel isn't that, it's something deeper because other activities aggravated my condition just not quite to the extent. I had no problem before so I'm fairly certain that is not the case. Nonetheless, I have been spending so much time trying to figure out what is wrong with me so I can resolve the problem, just in case it could get worse in the future, whatever it is.

Now I'm no doctor, but today I was reading online and trying to cross reference my symptoms and I think I found a match, Cauda equina syndrome. However, I think it may be incomplete since it doesn't happen all the time.

What do you think? I would very much appreciate anyone who can shed some light on the situation or offer some advice for me because frankly, I have nowhere else to turn.

Category: Family Physician-GP

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Category: HIV- AIDS Specialist
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Thank you for your query at

I have gone through your history in detail and understand your concern.
I assume you have a lower back pain. This along with numbness in the genital region, buttocks and thighs indicates a spinal pathology. It could be due to compression of a spinal nerve. Since you also have a history of injury prior to this, it is best that you get an MRI of the spine.
Cauda equina syndrome is a close match like you said but it is not the case with you. There might be nerve compression like in that but your case seems to be different.
The fact that Cannabis seems to worsen your symptoms is unusual. Are you using something which has a chance of being contaminated with other substances?

If a spinal pathology like compression of nerves is found, depending on the degree and type, further management with medications and physical therapy or surgery can be decided. In your case, since it appears to be mild, management is mostly going to be conservative.

In summary, I suggest that you see an Orthopedic surgeon at the earliest. He can examine you completely, to look for any objective sensory loss, muscle weakness etc. A MRI of spine will be ordered based on the examination findings.
Meanwhile, you can continue with the physical therapy.

I hope this was helpful. Feel free to ask queries.

Patient replied :

Thank you for the response! For the Cannabis, it probably isn't because of I have gone through many different people and strains and they have all had the same response. I suspect that maybe, the vasodilation caused by cannabis, is what is compressing the nerves in the spine. Could that be the case?

Hello. Thank you for posting the follow up.
No it is highly unlikely that cannabis led vasodilatation has anything to do with the compressed nerve or your symptoms. Since you had disc slip earlier, that is probably what is leading to all your symptoms.
Sometimes the pinched nerve heals and the symptoms disappear. However, persistent compression can lead to permanenet damage. Most commonly the nerves that get piched are L5-S1.
I will strongly recommend you get a MRI of SPINE and upload the reports and i can guide you further. You can also consult an orthopaedic surgeon with the reports.
Continue the physical therapy.

Dr. Jaydeep Tripathy
Category: HIV- AIDS Specialist
MBBS from Sri Ramachandra University in December 2011
M.Med (Family Medicine) - TNMGR University, Chennai
MBA-MPH in Public Health in March 2016, SRM University
Finished AFIH in March 2016, SRM University
MRCP ( UK ), Internal Medicine, Royal College of Physicians, June 2016
Fellowship in Diabetology from Martin Luther University in January 2017

Currently Resident Physician, in MD Radiodiagnosis - Kamakshi Memorial Hospital, Chennai
Dr. Jaydeep Tripathy and 4 other Medical Specialists are ready to help you

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