Because I forgot something, and there was a good question.
First, what I forgot.
Pain patches. They come in two versions I know of, narcotic and NSAID. The narcotic patches work simply as an alternative dosing method - the drug soaks in through your skin rather than your stomach. This is especially wonderful for people with stomach problems, or people who are not really coherent enough to swallow. (Tranquilizers are available in drop form, used under the tongue; same result.)
NSAID patches are a REALLY new thing. There is only one I know of, the Flector patch. It happens I use them. They're about three by five inches, with a synthetic felt on one side and an adhesive goo on the other. The goo contains Diclofenac Epolamine, an anti-inflammatory. You stick it on your body where it hurts, and the drug soaks in there, in the isolated area, rather than soaking through your whole body from the pill form. (They were given to me because I've trashed my stomach, taking NSAIDs for fifteen years.) They are AMAZING. The only drawback is, it works on only a single isolated spot rather than the whole body, but if you've got pain in a single area, boy howdy is it AWESOME.
Related, is Voltaren Gel. Rather than the goo being on a patch, it's in a tube like toothpaste. Spread it anywhere, within reason (there are doses). The drug is Diclofenac Sodium, very closely related to the patch.
No one seems to know about these two, the Flector patch and the Voltaren gel. I wish I knew why; I once saw a back specialist who handed out samples to nearly every patient he had (and followed up with prescriptions if it worked) and he seemed to have the right idea. They're particularly good for osteo arthritis, which pretty much everyone over forty has. So please, please ask your doctors about them. They're wonderful and as safe as pain drugs get.
The other thing was the question. Someone asked about marijuana.
I've been saving marijuana for a plant post, once I read this very cool book I've got on it. But for now, I'll try to sum it up without going all Plant Freak.
In a nutshell? Nothing works like THC (the active ingredient in weed) but THC. No other known plant contains it. No one has ever been able to replicate it. It's one of those "mother nature specials" that's far too complicated for us to re-create, or even fully understand, right now.
But how THC works for pain is really interesting. It seems to inhibit the memory part of the brain, the part that sort of strings your experiences together into a coherent whole? It slows that down or shuts it off (depending on your dose). So instead of being ground down with fifteen years of pain, you have one single instant of ow. The single instant is quite easy to shrug off, without all the baggage. (Another example - I may have once been driving stoned. I knew what road I was on, I knew where I'd come from, I knew where I was going. But I couldn't put together the passing landmarks in a way that told me where I was on that road.)
No other drug I know of works in this way. Which is why THC should be legalized. It's cruel not to, with no other alternative to offer.
A word on marijuana safety. Smoking it is really not good. Smoke will eventually cause emphysema, COPD, and other lung problems. Not cool. Look into vaporizing it, or eat it. I've got some lovely brownie recipes.