What is Restorative Care and How Does It Relate to Medical Cannabis?

As more alternatives to traditional western medicine have gained popularity, so has some of the terminology that describes healthcare services. For example, take the term ‘restorative care’. It is not a new term. But it has gained widespread recognition thanks to the introduction of medical cannabis in more than three dozen states.

Restorative care is often misconstrued as rehabilitative care. While it is true that many types of rehabilitation qualify as restorative care, there are other treatments that do not involve rehabilitative therapy but still qualify as restorative. It is like saying that all carnations are flowers but not all flowers are carnations.

A Basic Definition

One of the big reasons restorative care is so frequently misunderstood is that definitions differ depending on who you ask. The most basic definition of restorative care is care and treatment designed to maximize a patient’s potential for function, independence, and quality of life.

This definition makes it easy to understand how physical therapy could be considered restorative care for a patient who is recovering from a car accident. But what about a patient suffering from chronic pain, a patient for which no amount of physical or occupational therapy seems to help?

This is where medical cannabis comes into play. Getting relief from chronic pain is the number one reason patients use medical cannabis. That is certainly the case in Utah, were Provo’s Deseret Wellness medical cannabis pharmacy serves a lot of patients who qualify for cards based on a chronic pain diagnosis.

Pain Limits Life

If you have never experienced long-term chronic pain before, you might not understand how limiting it can be. Chronic pain absolutely limits life. It can reduce function simply because the affected parts of the body are difficult to use. It can limit independence if pain is debilitating enough to confine one to a wheelchair or bed.

Pain definitely puts a damper on quality of life. People suffering with chronic pain not only hurt, but they are also fatigued. Living with chronic pain is literally exhausting. And when you constantly do not feel well, you also don’t feel like doing anything. Your quality of life suffers.

Medical cannabis is considered restorative care for chronic pain patients because it offers a certain measure of relief. With that relief comes increased function. With increased function comes more independence. The result of both is a higher quality of life.

Different Types of Relief

One of the more interesting aspects of medical cannabis is that it offers different kinds of relief depending on why it’s being used. A chronic pain patient enjoys physical relief. On the other hand, a PTSD patient experiences mental and emotional relief. Medical cannabis reduces anxiety, helps PTSD patients sleep and, in some cases, even reduces the frequency of terrifying nightmares and flashbacks.

Regardless of why a patient chooses to use medical cannabis, the goal is always the same: to feel better. That is the bottom line for restorative care. A person in need of restorative care doesn’t feel well. And because they feel so poorly, the potential for function, independence, and quality of life is limited.

As a concept, restorative care has been around for a long time. Clinicians have been offering it for decades. But thanks to more than three dozen states legalizing medical cannabis, it is now getting a lot more attention.

Focusing on restorative care is a different way of treating patients. It’s a different way of practicing medicine. The more we learn about things like medical cannabis and what it can do for patients, the more we understand just how important restorative care is.

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