Medical News Today: Why do I have pain in my upper thigh?

Pain in the upper thigh can be difficult to diagnose because this area of the body contains many muscles, tendons, and ligaments.

This kind of pain may often be due to minor muscle injuries that are treatable at home. When the pain is intense or does not go away, however, it may signal a more serious problem.

In this article, we examine some common causes of pain in the upper thigh, along with any symptoms that may occur alongside. We also take a look at the treatment options and how to prevent this type of pain.

Causes of upper thigh pain

Upper thigh pain can be caused by muscle injuries, nerve problems, and a few other conditions.

Muscle injuries

Person outside holding upper thigh in pain.
Muscle injuries, such as sprains and strains, are a common cause of pain in the upper thigh.

Because of a large amount of muscles in the upper thigh, pain in this area is often due to a muscle injury. Some common muscle injuries in this area include:

Muscle sprains and strains

Sprains and strains can affect any of the many muscles, ligaments, and tendons in the thigh.

A sprain is a torn or stretched ligament. Ligaments connect bones to other bones.

A strain is a torn or stretched muscle or tendon. Tendons connect muscles to bones.

Symptoms of a strain or sprain include:

  • sudden pain following a fall, an intense workout, or an overstretched joint
  • pain that spreads (radiates) up or down
  • difficulty stretching or moving the thigh
  • swelling around the painful area

Injuries from overuse

Overuse injuries can occur when a muscle in or around the thigh is worked too hard for too long, or when a person does not warm up before exercise.

The pain tends to get worse with time. Eventually, the pain may occur even when a person rests the injured area.

The main sign of an overuse injury is pain following exercise or intense physical activity. The pain may affect both thighs.

Sedentary lifestyle

Not getting enough exercise or spending too much time sitting each day can damage the muscles, causing chronic pain.

Sitting for long periods can put pressure on the joints and muscles, particularly of the hips and legs. Lack of activity may also cause the muscles to weaken, triggering widespread muscle pain.

People who have upper thigh pain due to a sedentary lifestyle may also feel pain throughout their body. The pain can move or change in intensity over time, and some people with this type of pain may experience widespread chronic pain.

Radiating pain from another injury

Injuries in other areas of the body can cause pain to spread to the upper thighs. For instance, a hip injury may radiate down to the legs.

Some injuries change how a person walks, causing them to stiffen their muscles without realizing. This can cause pain in the thighs and legs. If a person feels pain in nearby areas, such as in the hips or knees, this could also be the reason why their thighs hurt.

Nerve pain

People may also experience pain from nerves in the upper thigh. Nerve pain occurs when there is damage to the nerves. This creates the feeling of pain even when there is not a physical injury to the thigh.

Some common types of nerve pain include:

Peripheral neuropathy

Peripheral neuropathy is nerve damage that causes nerve pain. It is often due to other conditions, such as diabetes.

People with this pain may experience unusual sensations in the thighs and elsewhere, including burning, numbness, prickly sensations, and shooting pains.

Meralgia paresthetica

Meralgia paresthetica is also called Bernhardt-Roth syndrome. Damage to or pressure on the lateral femoral cutaneous nerve, a nerve that affects feeling in the outside of the thigh, can cause this painful sensation.

A person may experience this pain as burning or shooting, and the condition can cause periodic numbness in the upper thigh and hips.

Other causes

Man in physical therapists office sitting on bed.
An examination of the area will usually be performed to diagnose the cause.

Minor injuries

A bruise, even one that is not visible, can be intensely painful. This pain is often throbbing and occurs in a single area.

Pain from a minor injury such as a bruise does not typically radiate elsewhere.

Chronic conditions

Numerous chronic conditions can cause pain in the upper thigh. People with fibromyalgia experience chronic widespread pain at specific pressure points. Leg pain often occurs just above the knees and on the back of the upper thighs.

Various types of arthritis can cause pain throughout the body, including in the thighs. The pain of osteoarthritis is often concentrated in the hip and knee joints but may radiate down or up.

Blood clots

Rarely, pain in the upper thigh can be due to a blood clot in a blood vessel. Also called deep vein thrombosis (DVT), this painful condition can become life-threatening if the clot breaks loose and travels to the lungs, heart, or brain.

People who take long flights, are sedentary for extended periods, have poor circulation, smoke, have cardiovascular disease, or are pregnant or overweight are at a heightened risk of developing DVT.

Symptoms include:

  • unexplained pain in a leg that does not get better after a few days
  • swelling, redness, or heat along a leg vein
  • tenderness in a specific spot on the leg
  • pain when walking
  • shortness of breath when a clot breaks loose and moves to the heart and then to the lungs (pulmonary embolus)

A blood clot is a medical emergency that needs immediate medical treatment.

Risk factors

As upper thigh pain has many causes, and its risk factors vary. Some risk factors include:

  • chronic medical conditions, such as diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis
  • taking part in sports
  • a sedentary lifestyle
  • poor circulation
  • a history of injuries to the legs or hips

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No single test can diagnose the cause of upper thigh pain.

The process usually begins with an exam of the area. The doctor will also take a complete medical history and ask about recent injuries.

If the doctor finds no obvious cause, diagnostic tests may include:

  • magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computed tomography (CT) scans to view the muscles
  • X-rays to check the bones
  • ultrasound imaging to check for blood clots
  • blood tests to assess for medical conditions such as arthritis
  • joint aspiration, a procedure that involves removing fluid from a joint to check for certain joint problems
  • nerve tests, such as nerve conduction studies and electromyography

Treatment options

Person receiving sports physical therapy massage to their upper thigh.
Physical therapy and gentle exercise may help to treat upper thigh pain.

Treatment for upper thigh pain depends on its cause.

Minor injuries often improve with home treatment, including rest, heat, ice, compression, elevation, and gentle massage.

Other treatment options may include:

  • pain relief medication for unexplained chronic pain
  • medication for chronic conditions, such as fibromyalgia and arthritis
  • surgery to repair damaged or trapped nerves
  • physical and exercise therapy
  • surgery to repair damaged muscles, tendons, or ligaments
  • physical therapy
  • diabetes medications to prevent further nerve damage
  • blood thinners if there is a blood clot in the leg
  • alternative treatments, such as massage therapy, chiropractic, and acupuncture


Left untreated, pain in the upper thigh may get worse. It can also radiate to other areas of the body, making it hard to move and causing chronic pain.

The most significant complication is if there is a blood clot in the leg. These blood clots can break loose and cause an embolism, which is when an artery becomes blocked.

An embolism can be fatal in a matter of minutes. If leg pain is severe, appears out of nowhere, or does not improve in a few days, a person should see a doctor.

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Some steps that may help prevent upper thigh pain include:

  • remaining physically active
  • taking frequent stretching breaks during extended periods of sitting
  • stretching before and after exercise
  • working with a personal trainer to determine a healthful level of activity that will not lead to overuse injuries
  • managing and treating medical conditions, such as diabetes and arthritis


Most upper thigh pain is treatable and curable.

The most significant challenge with pain in this area of the body is getting a diagnosis. It can take visits to several specialists to work out the cause of the pain.

Not all pain is easily treatable, however. People with unexplained chronic pain may need to try several treatments before something works. With persistent treatment, however, most people can recover from upper thigh pain.

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Medical News Today: What is the average weight for women?

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Medical News Today: How too much TV could kill you

“Just one more…” and before you know it, you have watched five episodes of Breaking Bad…consecutively. If this sounds like you, you might want to swap the boxsets for a workout. A new study finds that watching too much TV can increase the risk of venous thromboembolism, a condition characterized by potentially fatal blood clots.
a woman watching TV
Watching too much TV could raise the risk of potentially fatal blood clots, say researchers.

Venous thromboembolism (VTE) is estimated to affect between 300,000 and 600,000 adults in the United States each year.

VTE can come in two different forms: deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and pulmonary embolism (PE).

DVT occurs when a blood clot forms in deep veins, most commonly in those of the legs. PE arises when a blood clot breaks away from the deep veins and moves to the lungs, where it can block the artery that supplies blood to the organs.

Yes, this sounds scary — and it is. Around 10–30 percent of adults in the U.S. die within 1 month of being diagnosed with DVT or PE.

So, how can something as simple as watching TV lead to such a deadly condition? Well, one of the major risk factors for VTE is reduced blood flow, which can be caused by sitting for long periods of time. And if binge-watching boxsets for hours on end doesn’t fall into this category, I don’t know what does.

Unfortunately, many of us are guilty of this behavior. In fact, a report conducted by Nielsen last year revealed that adults in the U.S. spend almost 6 hours per day watching TV.

In 2016, a study published in the journal Circulation associated too much time in front of the TV with a greater risk of PE in men from Japan.

For the new research, Yasuhiko Kubota — of the University of Minnesota School of Public Health in Minneapolis — and colleagues wanted to find out whether watching TV could pose the same risk for adults in the U.S.

“VTE incidence is higher in Western populations than in Asian populations,” the researchers say, “and thus, there may be a great deal of relevance to a study of TV viewing and VTE in Western populations.”

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Exercise won’t offset risks of too much TV

Kubota and colleagues used data from the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study to reach their findings, which they recently published in the Journal of Thrombosis and Thrombolysis.

They included information on 15,158 U.S. adults who were aged 45–64 when first enrolled in 1987–1989. At five separate follow-up assessments — from study baseline to 2009–2011 — participants were asked how often they watched TV. They answered “never or seldom,” “sometimes,” “often,” or “very often.”

A total of 691 VTE incidences were identified during follow-up. Compared with adults who reported “never or seldom” watching TV, those who watched TV “very often” were found to be 1.7 times more likely to develop VTE.

And if you think that going to the gym will make up for your time in front of the TV, think again; the researchers found that even for those who met the physical activity recommendations, watching TV “very often” was tied to a 1.8 times greater risk of VTE.

So, what can we do to prevent our risk of potentially fatal blood clots? The answer is simple: reduce the amount of time spent binge-watching boxsets and raise the amount of time spent exercising.

These results suggest that even individuals who regularly engage in physical activity should not ignore the potential harms of prolonged sedentary behaviors such as TV viewing.”

Yasuhiko Kubota

“Avoiding frequent TV viewing, increasing physical activity, and controlling body weight might be beneficial to prevent VTE,” he concludes.

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Medical News Today: What causes a tight foreskin?

A tight foreskin naturally occurs in babies and young children, and it can occasionally persist into adulthood. Although a tight foreskin does not always lead to serious medical complications, it may cause symptoms such as redness, pain, and inflammation.

Symptoms like these can interfere with normal urination and a person’s sex life. Some research shows that 2 percent of men have nonretractable foreskins throughout their lives, despite being otherwise healthy.

Read on to learn more about the classifications of tightness in the foreskin, causes, and treatment options.

What are the types of a tight foreskin?

Sad looking man with tight foreskin caused by phimosis or paraphimosis.
A tight foreskin may be categorized as phimosis or paraphimosis.

The medical community categorizes a tight foreskin as:


When the foreskin is too tight to be pulled back over the head of the penis, this is termed phimosis.

It is normal for young boys (usually aged 2 to 6 years) to have a foreskin that will not retract. In these instances, there is no need to be concerned about phimosis unless it causes pain, swelling, or difficulty urinating.


In cases of paraphimosis, the foreskin does not pull forward once retracted. The tip of the penis, called the glans, becomes painful and swollen.

Paraphimosis is more serious than phimosis. Emergency medical treatment may be needed to reduce the pain and swelling, and to restore blood flow to the penis.

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Causes of phimosis

Phimosis can be either physiologic or pathologic.

Physiologic phimosis

This describes a foreskin that is tight from birth. The condition usually resolves by age 6 or 7.

Pathologic phimosis

Pathologic phimosis is caused by:

Conditions that cause pathologic phimosis include:


Balanitis, or inflammation of the head of the penis, can lead to a tight foreskin, painful urination, and other symptoms. Some people will also have a thick discharge beneath the foreskin.


When both the glans and foreskin are inflamed, it is called balanoposthitis. Several types of infections can cause balanoposthitis, including the yeast infection Candidiasis.

Infections may lead to scarring, which can contribute to the tightness of the foreskin.

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs)

Some STIs can cause inflammation of the glans, which may lead to tightness and discomfort. Common STIs that may be responsible for tightness of the foreskin include:

Skin conditions

Some skin conditions that may cause or worsen symptoms include:

  • Eczema: A common condition that leads to dry and scaly patches on the skin.
  • Lichen planus: A rash characterized by shiny, flat bumps.
  • Lichen sclerosus: A condition that causes white patches to form on the foreskin and glans. It can also cause scarring.
  • Psoriasis: A chronic condition characterized by crusty, dry patches of skin.


Advancing age may lead to the development of phimosis. As skin loses elasticity, it can become stiffer and less pliable.

Causes of paraphimosis

Group of men playing football.
Physical injuries to the penis, such as injuries sustained in contact sports, may cause paraphimosis.

Paraphimosis may be caused by:

  • phimosis
  • infection
  • physical trauma to the penis
  • pulling the foreskin back for extended periods of time
  • pulling the foreskin back too roughly

Paraphimosis can also occur when a medical professional fails to return the foreskin into position following an examination or procedure.

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People without symptoms often do not need treatment. The following methods may reduce symptoms.

Good penis hygiene

Best practices for adults include:

  • Gently washing the penis every day in warm water: If using soap, choose a mild and fragrance-free variety.
  • Gently pulling back the foreskin to wash the underside: Note that the foreskins of babies and young boys should not be pulled back, as this could cause pain and damage.
  • Gently drying the penis: Remember to dry the foreskin after washing and urinating.
  • Avoiding chemicals: Try not to use products with talc or deodorant on the penis.

Tightness can often be prevented or treated by employing good hygiene techniques.

Stretching exercise

Manually stretch the foreskin to preserve elasticity. This can help to prevent and treat tightness. Gently pull the foreskin backward and forward when cleaning the penis. This exercise should be performed as soon as the foreskin separates from the glans, usually at age 7.

Consult a doctor before teaching children to perform this exercise, as not all boys develop at the same rate. A doctor can also advise on the proper way to perform this exercise.


Several medications are used to treat a tight foreskin. The best choice will depend on the cause of the condition. Below are some options to consider.

Over-the-counter medications

Using a topical steroid cream may alleviate most cases of tight foreskin. The creams have a softening effect and should be massaged into the foreskin daily for up to 2 months. Many will contain the steroid hydrocortisone.

These medications work best when a person is also performing the manual stretching exercise described above. Even after steroid use is discontinued, exercises can prevent recurrence of tightness.

In the short term, some people may also benefit from using pain relievers such as ibuprofen (Advil).

Prescription medications

If a tight foreskin is caused by infection, a doctor may prescribe antibiotics such as bacitracin or antifungals such as clotrimazole (Lotrimin AF).

If the cause is something else, a doctor may prescribe a topical steroid. It will be stronger than the over-the-counter varieties mentioned earlier. Prescription steroids include betamethasone (Celestone) and triamcinolone (Aristospan).

Local anesthetic

In some cases of paraphimosis, a local anesthetic gel may be applied to the penis so that the foreskin can be pushed forward without too much discomfort.


When other treatments have proven ineffective, surgery may be required. Types include:

  • Preputioplasty or frenuloplasty: In these procedures, a surgeon cuts the foreskin to loosen it. However, the procedures do not always prevent recurrence of the issue.
  • Circumcision: Severe cases of phimosis and paraphimosis, as well as persistent balanitis or balanoposthitis, may require surgical removal of the foreskin, known as circumcision.

Circumcision carries risks of bleeding and infection. Doctors only recommend it as a last resort.

Prevention and complications

Man washing in shower.
Gently washing and drying the penis daily may help to prevent a tight foreskin.

There are several ways to prevent a tight foreskin.

These include:

  • Practicing good hygiene, which involves washing and drying the penis daily.
  • Manually stretching the foreskin, from a young age.
  • Treating skin conditions as they arise.
  • Practicing safe sex by using condoms to prevent the spread of STIs.
  • Using a lubricant during intercourse to prevent pain or splitting, which often occurs in men with phimosis.
  • Seeking immediate treatment for infections of the penis or foreskin, which will help to prevent scarring.
  • Discussing any concerns with a doctor.

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In most boys, a tight foreskin will resolve before adulthood. Cases of phimosis that persist into adulthood may cause pain, discomfort during sex, increased risk of infection, or difficulty urinating.

If symptoms are present at any age, it is important to see a doctor. Paraphimosis, in particular, requires prompt medical attention, to prevent further complications.

Any of the many treatments options available can successfully resolve both phimosis and paraphimosis. To prevent tightness of the foreskin, practice good hygiene and stretching techniques.

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Medical News Today: Your gut flora may protect against sepsis

Gut flora may play an important role in protecting against sepsis through their influence on blood levels of certain antibodies.
bacteria in bloodstream
Sepsis is often caused by bacterial infections and affects the blood.

This was the conclusion that researchers at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia reached after exploring gut flora, immunoglobulin A (IgA) antibodies, and sepsis in mice.

They found that blood levels of IgA rose when mice were exposed to a particular variety of gut flora that included microbes from the Proteobacteria division.

In a paper due to be published in the journal Cell Host & Microbe, senior study author David Allman — a professor of pathology and laboratory medicine in the Perelman School of Medicine — and his colleagues explain that mice became resistant to sepsis when their guts were particularly rich in Proteobacteria.

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The leading cause of hospital deaths

Sepsis is a “serious medical condition” that arises when the body’s immune response to infection becomes overwhelming. It is unpredictable and can progress very quickly.

In sepsis, the immune response floods the bloodstream with chemicals that give rise to widespread inflammation that, in turn, cause blood vessels to leak and blood clots to form. This chain of events prevents nourishing blood from reaching organs, resulting in organ damage, and, in severe cases, organ failure.

If not diagnosed and treated promptly, sepsis can lead to shock, widespread organ failure, and death.

Every year, sepsis affects around 30 million people worldwide and causes 6–9 million deaths. It is a leading cause of death in hospitals.

Sepsis results from infections that are caused by a range of microbes, including viruses, fungi, and — more commonly — bacteria. Severe cases often arise from infection that has spread to all parts of the body through the blood.

Infections that lead to sepsis can start in the urinary tract, the lungs, the appendix (and other parts of the abdomen), and the skin. They may also result from medical procedures that can introduce microbes directly into the bloodstream, such as when a tube is inserted into a vein.

Although sepsis can affect anyone, it is more common in the elderly, babies, children, and people with certain illnesses and injuries.

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IgA and gut flora

Prof. Allman and colleagues set out to investigate IgA and gut flora because previous research has suggested that they are linked and that IgA may be related to specific types of gut bacteria in mice.

It is also known that sepsis is more common in those with insufficient IgA, and evidence from older studies revealed that bacteria in the blood can quickly trigger immunoglobulin M antibodies, and that surges in immunoglobulin G antibodies triggered by gut flora can arrest bacterial infections.

However, what has not been clear is whether these results are connected. In other words, can gut bacteria influence sepsis risk through their effect on IgA?

The researchers also wondered whether or not blood IgA might help to protect against invading bacteria without triggering inflammation.

Their investigation revealed that certain gut microbes “induce several facets of systemic IgA-mediated immunity.”

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Enriching gut flora may grant resistance

Exposing normal mice to a “unique but natural” gut flora that held several Proteobacteria members led to two significant results: it raised levels of T cell-dependent IgA in the blood; and in the bone marrow, it induced “large numbers of IgA-secreting plasma cells.”

Tests on the resulting blood IgA revealed that they were effective against a “restricted collection” of bacteria. They also showed that the mice were able to produce IgA in specific response to “intestinal colonization” of the gut bacterium Helicobacter muridarum.

The team also found that enriching mice’s gut flora with Proteobacteria made them resistant to “olymicrobial sepsis,” and that this resistance was conferred through IgA in the blood.

Finally, they showed that transferring blood without IgA into mice with sepsis led to the deaths of all but one of the animals within 48 hours, whereas sepsis mice that received IgA-enriched blood lived much longer.

Bringing these results together, the study authors conclude that gut flora “overtly influence” blood levels of IgA, “resulting in constitutive protection against bacterial sepsis.”

Prof. Allman explains that the team’s findings are “limited by the fact that the microbiome in every person or animal is unique to some degree,” and that the study was confined to animals in their facility.

He and his colleagues now want to gain a better understanding of the mechanism through which IgA antibodies protect against sepsis, and why certain gut microbes induce the appropriate IgA responses.

In the meantime, they urge caution in applying these very early findings to human disease.

While IgA protected mice in our study, it should not be assumed that IgA could replace standard treatments provided to patients in a clinical setting.”

Prof. David Allman

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Medical News Today: What is dependent edema?

Edema is the term used to describe the swelling that results from excess fluid that is trapped in the tissues of the body. Dependent edema is caused by the effects of gravity and occurs when fluid pools in the lower parts of the body, including the feet, legs, or hands.

This article discusses the causes and symptoms of dependent edema, as well as the available treatment options.


Pain in leg and foot caused by dependent edema, woman sitting on couch holding her calf in pain.
A problem in the veins may cause dependent edema, which is characterized by symptoms such as swollen and shiny skin.

Gravity pulls blood toward the parts of the body that are closest to the ground. For example, edema may occur in the feet, but people who are bedbound may experience edema in the buttocks.

Usually, the blood is pumped back from feet toward the heart by the veins and the motion of the muscles. When this system malfunctions, the lower body parts begin to fill up with excess fluid, causing the swelling and puffiness of edema.

According to the American Family Physician, one of the primary causes of dependent edema is a problem with the veins, although muscular issues may also contribute.

What are the symptoms?

Signs and symptoms of this condition include:

  • difficulty putting on shoes and socks due to swelling
  • shiny skin
  • stretched-looking skin

To differentiate between dependent edema and one of the other types of edema, apply gentle pressure to the affected area.

If dents appear on the skin, which is known as pitting, it suggests dependent edema.

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Warning signs to look out for

Doctor in patient's home discussing report.
Those with dependent edema will need to monitor their skin health, and ensure they are aware of the warning signs.

People with dependent edema should be vigilant when it comes to their skin health because they are at increased risk of skin infections. When the skin stretches and breaks, it becomes more vulnerable to infections such as cellulitis, which is a bacterial skin infection that can spread rapidly to other body parts.

If anyone observes any signs of a serious skin issue, seek emergency medical attention.

Symptoms include:

  • a feeling that the skin is hot
  • pus-like drainage
  • redness
  • slow-healing wounds
  • swelling

The risk of skin infection can be reduced by keeping the skin around the affected areas clean and moisturizing the skin regularly.

What are the treatment options?

If there is an underlying cause for the dependent edema, then treating the condition may resolve the edema. Sometimes, these conditions are not curable such as in the case of heart failure, so people may need to manage the edema to limit its symptoms and reduce the risk of complications.

A person can implement some lifestyle changes to help manage dependent edema:

Elevate the affected body parts

Because gravity causes dependent edema, elevating the affected area to above heart level allows the excess fluid to drain toward the heart. If edema affects the feet, for example, lying down and propping up the legs with cushions can help.

Use compression stockings or bandages

If the feet or legs are affected, wearing compression socks or leg sleeves can stop the collection of fluid in the tissues. Compression bandages are also available to wrap other areas of the body.

Manually move body parts

People who cannot move their arms or legs should try manual mobility. This involves moving the immobile body part, perhaps with the hands or with the assistance of another person.

This type of movement can encourage the muscles to pump blood and fluids more efficiently, which can prevent fluid buildup and reduce the edema. A doctor can advise on specific exercises that may further reduce swelling.

Reduce salt intake

A high-salt diet can increase water retention, which increases the likelihood of edema. Discuss salt intake with a doctor or dietitian.


Massage may move excess fluid out of the affected area. Using firm pressure, stroke the skin in the direction of the heart. Never use pressure that causes pain.

Skin hygiene

Keep the skin clean and moisturized to prevent cracks, scrapes, and cuts, which can lead to infection.

Foot protection

If edema occurs in the feet, wear suitable shoes that do not restrict blood flow but that protect the feet from injury and infection.

What are the complications?

Dependent edema can lead to some complications, such as:

  • difficulty walking
  • discolored, thick skin
  • pain and stiffness
  • reduced blood circulation
  • stretched, itchy, or tender skin
  • ulcers
  • varicose veins

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Other types of edema

periorbital edema image credit klaus d peter 2008 br
Periorbital edema is a type of edema that affects the eye.
Image credit: Klaus D Peter (2008)

Dependent edema is just one type of edema.

Others include:

  • Cerebral edema: A severe condition that involves excess fluid in the brain. This type of edema is most commonly caused by trauma, a tumor, or a burst blood vessel.
  • Lymphedema: A swelling in the arms and legs that is usually caused by damage to the lymph nodes. It may be as a result of cancer or cancer treatments.
  • Macular edema: Caused by an increase of fluid in the macula of the eye.
  • Pedal edema: This occurs when fluid builds up in the feet and legs. This typically affects older adults and pregnant women.
  • Peripheral edema: This usually affects the legs, feet, and ankles. It can indicate a problem in the kidneys, lymph nodes, or circulatory system.
  • Pulmonary edema: Characterized by excess fluid in the air sacs of the lungs. It can lead to breathing difficulties.


Some causes of dependent edema are curable, and the edema may resolve once the underlying condition is treated. However, other causes have no cure.

However, there are some steps that a person can take to reduce symptoms and the risk of complications. Using elevation, compression, movement, and keeping the skin clean can offer relief to many people with dependent edema.

It is always important to discuss dependent edema and its symptoms with a doctor, who can best advise a person on the most effective treatment options for their condition.

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Medical News Today: What are lymphocytes and what are healthy levels to have?

Lymphocytes are white blood cells that are also one of the body’s main types of immune cells. They are made in the bone marrow and found in the blood and lymph tissue.

The immune system is a complex network of cells known as immune cells that include lymphocytes. These cells work together to defend the body against foreign substances, such as bacteria, viruses, and cancer cells that can threaten its functioning.

In this article, we look at different types of lymphocytes, what normal levels to have in the blood are, and what happens if levels get too low or too high.

Types of lymphocytes

white blood cells
Lymphocytes are white blood cells that are part of the immune system.

There are two categories of lymphocytes known as B lymphocytes and T lymphocytes. These are commonly referred to as B cells and T cells.

Both types originate from stem cells in the bone marrow. From there, some cells travel to the thymus, where they become T cells. Others remain in the bone marrow, where they become B cells.

The job of B cells is to make antibodies, which are proteins produced by the immune system to fight foreign substances known as antigens.

Each B cell is set to make one specific antibody. Each antibody matches an antigen in the same way that a key matches a lock, and when this happens, the antigen is marked for destruction.

The job of T cells is to help the body kill cancer cells and control the immune response to foreign substances. They do this by destroying cells in the body that have been taken over by viruses or become cancerous.

A third type of lymphocyte, known as a natural killer or NK cell, comes from the same place as B and T cells. NK cells respond quickly to several foreign substances and are specialized in killing cancer cells and virus-infected cells.

Roles and functions

There are different types of B cells and T cells that have specific roles in the body and the immune system.

B cells

Memory B cells

Memory B cells circulate in the body to start a fast antibody response when they find a foreign substance. They remain in the body for decades and become memory cells, which remember previously found antigens and help the immune system respond faster to future attacks.

Regulatory B cells

Regulatory B cells or Bregs make up around 0.5 percent of all B cells in healthy people. Although few in number, they have a vital role to play.

Bregs have protective anti-inflammatory effects in the body and stop lymphocytes that cause inflammation. They also interact with several other immune cells and promote the production of regulatory T cells or Tregs.

T cells

Killer T cells

Killer or cytotoxic T cells scan the surface of cells in the body to see if they have become infected with germs, or if they have turned cancerous. If so, they kill these cells.

Helper T cells

Helper T cells “help” other cells in the immune system to start and control the immune response against foreign substances.

There are different types of helper T cells, and some are more effective than others against different types of germs.

For instance, a Th1 cell is more effective against germs that cause infection inside other cells, such as bacteria and viruses, while a Th2 cell is more effective against germs that cause infection outside of cells, such as certain bacteria and parasites.

Regulatory T cells or Tregs

Tregs control or suppress other cells in the immune system. They have both helpful and harmful effects.

They maintain tolerance to germs, prevent autoimmune diseases, and limit inflammatory diseases. But they can also suppress the immune system from doing its job against certain antigens and tumors.

Memory T cells

Memory T cells protect the body against previously found antigens. They live for a long time after an infection is over, helping the immune system to remember previous infections.

If the same germ enters the body a second time, memory T cells remember it and quickly multiply, helping the body to fight it more quickly.

Natural killer T cells

Natural killer T cells are a mixed group of T cells that share characteristics of both T cells and natural killer cells. They can influence other immune cells and control immune responses against substances in the body that trigger an immune response.

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Normal ranges and levels

Lymphocyte levels can change according to a person’s race, gender, location, and lifestyle habits.

The normal lymphocyte range in adults is between 1,000 and 4,800 lymphocytes in 1 microliter (µL) of blood. In children, the normal range is between 3,000 and 9,500 lymphocytes in 1 µL of blood.

Unusually high or low lymphocyte counts can be a sign of disease.

What does it mean if levels are high?

young woman sitting on settee holding stomach
A high level of lymphocytes may be an indication of lymphocytosis, which is associated with inflammatory bowel disease.

Lymphocyte counts above the normal range can be a harmless and temporary situation due to the body’s normal response to an infection or inflammatory condition.

But a high level of lymphocytes can also be a sign of lymphocytosis, which is a more serious condition.

Lymphocytosis is frequently associated with chronic infections, some blood cancers, and with autoimmune diseases, such as inflammatory bowel disease.

In adults, lymphocytosis usually corresponds to a lymphocyte count higher than 3,000 lymphocytes in 1 µL of blood. In children, the lymphocyte count would be around 9,000 lymphocytes in 1 µL of blood, although this value can change with age.

What does it mean if levels are low?

Lymphocyte counts below the normal range can also be temporary. They can occur after a cold or another infection, or be caused by intense physical exercise, severe stress, or malnutrition.

A low level can also be a sign of a condition known as lymphocytopenia or lymphopenia.

Lymphocytopenia can be inherited, or it can be acquired alongside certain diseases, including:

  • rare inherited diseases, such as ataxia-telangiectasia
  • nerve diseases, such as multiple sclerosis
  • autoimmune diseases
  • AIDS, or other infectious diseases

Lymphocytopenia can also be a side effect of medications or some other medical treatments.

Lymphocyte counts that signal lymphocytopenia vary for adults and children. They are usually less than 1,000 lymphocytes in 1 µL of blood for adults and less than 3,000 lymphocytes in 1 µL of blood for children.

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What is a B and T cell screen?

A blood test that counts how many lymphocytes are in a person’s blood is called a B and T cell screen. In this test, the levels of the main types of white blood cells in the body are measured.

Lymphocyte count is one part of a larger whole blood test called a complete blood count (CBC). A CBC can be requested by doctors if they suspect that a disease or infection is present.

A sample of the bone marrow can also be used instead of blood in some cases.

What do the results mean?

man with a cold blowing his nose
Having a cold can result in a low lymphocyte count.

The B and T cell screen will give an estimate of the amount of T and B cells in the blood.

Results can indicate a normal cell count or an abnormal cell count, the latter pointing to the possible presence of a disease. In this case, the doctor will likely ask for other tests to confirm a diagnosis.

T cell counts above the normal range can indicate any of the following conditions:

B cell counts above the normal range can indicate:

  • chronic lymphocytic leukemia
  • multiple myeloma
  • a genetic disease known as DiGeorge syndrome
  • a type of cancer called Waldenstrom macroglobulinemia

T cell counts below the normal range can indicate:

  • a disease present from birth
  • an acquired T cell deficiency disease, such as HIV, which can progress to AIDS or HTLV-1
  • a type of cancer

B cell counts below the normal range can indicate:


Unusually high or low lymphocyte counts may cause no signs, symptoms, or serious problems on their own. They can be the body’s normal response to an infection, inflammatory condition, or other unusual condition, and will return to normal levels after some time.

If lymphocyte counts remain high or low over time, they could be a sign of a health condition and may be diagnosed as lymphocytopenia or lymphocytosis. These conditions can range from mild to severe, and their duration depends on what caused them.

Treatment for abnormal levels of lymphocytes will depend on both the cause and severity and mild forms may not require any at all.

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Medical News Today: What does the SGOT blood test mean?

The SGOT test is a blood test. It helps to determine how well the liver is functioning by measuring levels of aspartate aminotransferase in the blood. Too much of this enzyme can indicate a problem, such as liver damage.

Aspartate aminotransferase (AST) is an enzyme primarily found in the liver and heart. To a lesser degree, it is also present in other parts of the body, including the kidneys and muscles. This enzyme is also called serum glutamic-oxaloacetic transaminase (SGOT).

Most people have low levels of this enzyme. However, when liver cells are damaged or hurt, they excrete extra AST into the blood.

Healthy SGOT ranges

When the test results are in, a person’s SGOT ranges may be classified as normal, high, or low. These ranges vary, depending on a person’s sex. Normal ranges also differ among laboratories.

However, doctors tend to accept the following ranges as normal:

  • Males: 10 to 40 units per liter (U/L)
  • Females: 9 to 32 U/L

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What do the results mean?

Doctor in office with patient explaining SGOT test results while pointing at model of liver.
A doctor will explain the results of the SGOT test, including ALT levels if those are taken as well.

The doctor may test for levels of another liver enzyme at the same time. This enzyme is called alanine aminotransferase (ALT). If both ALT and SGOT levels are high, it may indicate that a person has one of the following conditions:

  • extensive liver damage from toxins like alcohol or over-the-counter painkillers
  • acute hepatitis
  • gallbladder disease
  • cancer
  • in pregnant women, preeclampsia or HELLP syndrome, which is defined by its characteristics — hemolysis, elevated liver enzymes, and low platelet count.

High SGOT levels without high ALT levels can indicate the following problems:

If the results of the test show high levels of SGOT, the liver or another organ that produces the enzyme may be damaged due to illness or injury.

Why is the SGOT test performed?

Doctors primarily use the SGOT test to check for and assess liver problems. The SGOT protein is mainly manufactured in the liver. When the liver is damaged or ill, SGOT can leak from the liver into the bloodstream. When this happens, levels in the blood will be higher than normal.

If a person has heart or kidney problems, levels of SGOT may be particularly high. To rule these issues out, doctors often order a check of the second liver enzyme, ALT, at the same time. If both levels are high, it indicates a problem with a person’s liver. If only SGOT levels are high, this may indicate a problem with another organ or system.

Doctors commonly order the test if they suspect that a person has any of the following conditions:

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How is the SGOT test done?

SGOT blood test sample being labelled by lab technician.
The SGOT test involves a blood sample being taken for analysis.

The SGOT test is very straightforward, and a person can expect it to be like any other blood test. A technician will seat the person in a chair and tie an elastic band around their arm.

The technician will then examine the arm for a suitable vein. After finding the vein, they will clean the site with an alcohol swab.

The technician will then insert a small needle into the vein and draw blood. The draw will not take long, only a couple of minutes.

When a vial has filled with blood, the technician will remove the needle and instruct the person to hold a gauze against the site of the insertion. The technician will remove the elastic band and secure the gauze with medical tape.


Because the SGOT test is straightforward, no special preparation is necessary. However, a person can take steps to ensure that the test goes smoothly.

Avoid over-the-counter medications, including pain relievers such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, for 2 days before the SGOT test. If the test is performed without notice, a person should let their doctor know that they have recently taken over-the-counter medication.

Stay hydrated before any blood test. Drinking plenty of water on the day of the test can make blood easier to draw.

Wear a loose-fitting or short-sleeve shirt, to allow easier access to the veins in the elbow.


As with any blood test, very few risks are associated with the SGOT test. They include:

  • bleeding at the site of the blood draw
  • minor bruising
  • feeling faint

A person is less likely to feel faint if they are well hydrated. Bleeding and bruising at the site are normally very minor and tend to resolve on their own.

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Follow-up testing

A doctor will often order tests that coincide with the SGOT test or follow it. This is to help ensure proper diagnosis and determine the best course of treatment. These tests may include:

  • Platelet count: Low platelet levels may indicate liver disease or, during pregnancy, HELLP syndrome.
  • Coagulation panel: This measures the functioning of clotting-related proteins that the liver produces.
  • Complete metabolic panel: This assesses how well the kidneys and liver are working and shows levels of electrolytes.
  • Bilirubin test: This checks levels of a byproduct created when the liver breaks down red blood cells.
  • Glucose test: When the liver is not working well, glucose levels may be low.

A doctor can take a closer look at a person’s liver with an ultrasound scan. The extent of follow-up testing will depend on a person’s results.

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Medical News Today: Gout drug could help treat heart failure

Drug repurposing is one of the fastest and most effective routes to new medical treatments. Researchers reveal how such a strategy may yield a new treatment for heart failure.
an illustration representing a heart problem
Researchers suggest that the gout drug probenecid may help to treat heart failure.

In a new study, the team found that probenecid — which is a drug commonly used to treat gout — improved heart function in a small number of individuals with heart failure.

First study author Nathan Robbins — from the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine in Ohio — and colleagues recently reported their findings in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

Heart failure is a condition that arises when the heart is unable to pump oxygen-rich blood well enough to support other organs.

It is estimated that heart failure affects around 5.7 million adults in the United States, and around 50 percent of people who have the condition die within 5 years of being diagnosed.

Though there is no cure for heart failure, treatments exist that help to manage the condition. Some of these treatments, such as a left ventricular assist device (LVAD), concentrate on improving the heart’s function.

An LVAD is a battery-powered device surgically implanted into the patient’s heart. It draws in blood from the left ventricle of the heart, before transporting it to the aorta, or the artery that distributes blood to the rest of the body.

In their new study, Robbins and team reveal how probenecid may offer a noninvasive alternative to such treatments, after finding that the gout drug improved the heart-pumping action of people with heart failure.

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‘From bench to bedside’

The researchers tested probenecid on 20 people of an average age of 57 years, all of whom had heart failure.

As part of the double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study, all the participants either took probenecid or a placebo over 4-week periods between June 2013 and April 2015.

Subjects’ ejection fraction, or the heart’s ability to pump blood, was measured by echocardiogram. Other measures of heart function included an electrocardiogram and a 6-minute walk test.

Compared with the placebo, the researchers found that probenecid led to improvements in ejection fraction.

“This is the first time,” states Robbins, “probenecid has been used in heart failure patients and we showed it increases the ejection fraction in patients with heart failure. It was exciting to be able to see this medicine work from the bench to the bedside.”

“We were quite happily surprised it improved the two main ways in how the heart functions,” adds study co-author Dr. Jack Rubinstein, of the Department of Internal Medicine at the University of Cincinnati. “It improves how the heart contracts and how it relaxes.”

Importantly, the drug was found to cause no significant adverse effects in the subjects. “We know that it was very likely to be safe because the medicine had been taken by people of all ages for decades,” says Dr. Rubinstein. “It has a very strong safety profile.”

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‘A new way of treating heart failure’

When the researchers tested the drug on heart cells taken from mice, they found that it improves the heart’s use of calcium, which is a key player in heart muscle contraction.

While larger clinical trials are needed to determine the efficacy of probenecid for heart failure, the researchers believe that their results show promise.

The repercussions are potentially significant — if we are able to confirm this experiment in larger studies with longer-term follow-up, this could present a new way of treating heart failure for which there are limited medical therapies available.”

Dr. Jack Rubinstein

“Left ventricular assist devices, pacemakers, heart transplants, and medications are available to treat heart failure patients, but outcomes for patients with heart failure are still worse than outcomes for the vast majority of cancer patients,” Dr. Rubinstein adds.

“That’s what we want to effectively change.”

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Medical News Today: Marijuana: Good or bad?

According to the National Institutes of Health, people have used marijuana, or cannabis, to treat their ailments for at least 3,000 years. However, the Food and Drug Administration have not deemed marijuana safe or effective in the treatment of any medical condition.
a man holding a marijuana leaf
Marijuana is being increasingly legalized in the U.S., but is it safe?

This tension, between a widespread belief that marijuana is an effective treatment for a wide assortment of ailments and a lack of scientific knowledge on its effects, has been somewhat exacerbated in recent times by a drive toward legalization.

Twenty-nine states plus the District of Columbia have now made marijuana available for medical — and, in some states, recreational — purposes.

A recent study published in the journal Addiction also found that use of marijuana is increasing sharply across the United States, although this rise may not be linked to the legalization of marijuana in participating states. Nevertheless, this rise in use is prompting major public health concerns.

In this article, we look at the scientific evidence weighing the medical benefits of marijuana against its associated health risks in an attempt to answer this simple question: is marijuana good or bad?

What are the medical benefits of marijuana?

Over the years, research has yielded results to suggest that marijuana may be of benefit in the treatment of some conditions. These are listed below.

Chronic pain

Last year, a large review from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine assessed more than 10,000 scientific studies on the medical benefits and adverse effects of marijuana.

One area that the report looked closely at was the use of medical marijuana to treat chronic pain. Chronic pain is a leading cause of disability, affecting more than 25 million adults in the U.S.

The review found that marijuana, or products containing cannabinoids — which are the active ingredients in marijuana, or other compounds that act on the same receptors in the brain as marijuana — are effective at relieving chronic pain.

Alcoholism and drug addiction

Another comprehensive review of evidence, published last year in the journal Clinical Psychology Review, revealed that using marijuana may help people with alcohol or opioid dependencies to fight their addictions.

But this finding may be contentious; the National Academies of Sciences review suggests that marijuana use actually drives increased risk for abusing, and becoming dependent on, other substances.

Also, the more that someone uses marijuana, the more likely they are to develop a problem with using marijuana. Individuals who began using the drug at a young age are also known to be at increased risk of developing a problem with marijuana use.

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Depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and social anxiety

The review published in Clinical Psychology Review assessed all published scientific literature that investigated the use of marijuana to treat symptoms of mental illness.

a man feeling depressed
Evidence to date suggests that marijuana could help to treat some mental health conditions.

Its authors found some evidence supporting the use of marijuana to relieve depression and post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms.

That being said, they caution that marijuana is not an appropriate treatment for some other mental health conditions, such as bipolar disorder and psychosis.

The review indicates that there is some evidence to suggest that marijuana might alleviate symptoms of social anxiety, but again, this is contradicted by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine review, which instead found that regular users of marijuana may actually be at increased risk of social anxiety.


Evidence suggests that oral cannabinoids are effective against nausea and vomiting caused by chemotherapy, and some small studies have found that smoked marijuana may also help to alleviate these symptoms.

Some studies on cancer cells suggest that cannabinoids may either slow down the growth of or kill some types of cancer. However, early studies that tested this hypothesis in humans revealed that although cannabinoids are a safe treatment, they are not effective at controlling or curing cancer.

Multiple sclerosis

The short-term use of oral cannabinoids may improve symptoms of spasticity among people with multiple sclerosis, but the positive effects have been found to be modest.

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Another study published in 2017 discovered that a marijuana compound called cannabidiol may be effective at easing seizures among children with Dravet syndrome, which is a rare form of epilepsy.

Dravet syndrome seizures are prolonged, repetitive, and potentially lethal. In fact, 1 in 5 children with Dravet syndrome do not reach the age of 20.

In the study, 120 children and teenagers with Dravet syndrome, all of whom were aged between 2 and 18, were randomly assigned to receive an oral cannabidiol solution or a placebo for 14 weeks, along with their usual medication.

MRI scans of the brain
Researchers indicates that marijuana could help to treat epilepsy.

The researchers found that the children who received the cannabidiol solution went from having around 12 seizures per month to an average of six seizures per month. Three children receiving cannabidiol did not experience any seizures at all.

Children who received the placebo also saw a reduction in seizures, but this was slight — their average number of seizures went down from 15 each month before the study to 14 seizures per month during the study.

The researchers say that this 39 percent reduction in seizure occurrence provides strong evidence that the compound can help people living with Dravet syndrome, and that their paper has the first rigorous scientific data to demonstrate this.

However, the study also found a high rate of side effects linked to cannabidiol. More than 9 in 10 of the children treated with cannabidiol experienced side effects — most commonly vomiting, fatigue, and fever.

What are the health risks of marijuana?

At the other end of the spectrum is the plethora of studies that have found negative associations between marijuana use and health. They are listed below.

Mental health problems

Daily marijuana use is believed to exacerbate existing symptoms of bipolar disorder among people who have this mental health problem. However, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine report suggests that among people with no history of the condition, there is only limited evidence of a link between marijuana use and developing bipolar disorder.

Moderate evidence suggests that regular marijuana users are more likely to experience suicidal thoughts, and there is a small increased risk of depression among marijuana users.

Marijuana use is likely to increase risk of psychosis, including schizophrenia. But a curious finding among people with schizophrenia and other psychoses is that a history of marijuana use is linked with improved performance on tests assessing learning and memory.

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Testicular cancer

Although there is no evidence to suggest any link between using marijuana and an increased risk for most cancers, the National Academies of Sciences did find some evidence to suggest an increased risk for the slow-growing seminoma subtype of testicular cancer.

Respiratory disease

Regular marijuana smoking is linked to increased risk of chronic cough, but “it is unclear” whether smoking marijuana worsens lung function or increases the risk of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or asthma.

A 2014 study that explored the relationship between marijuana use and lung disease suggested that it was plausible that smoking marijuana could contribute to lung cancer, though it has been difficult to conclusively link the two.

The authors of that study — published in the journal Current Opinion in Pulmonary Medicine — conclude:

There is unequivocal evidence that habitual or regular marijuana smoking is not harmless. A caution against regular heavy marijuana usage is prudent.”

“The medicinal use of marijuana is likely not harmful to lungs in low cumulative doses,” they add, “but the dose limit needs to be defined. Recreational use is not the same as medicinal use and should be discouraged.”

So, is marijuana good or bad for your health?

There is evidence that demonstrates both the harms and health benefits of marijuana. Yet despite the emergence over the past couple of years of very comprehensive, up-to-date reviews of the scientific studies evaluating the benefits and harms of the drug, it’s clear that more research is needed to fully determine the public health implications of rising marijuana use.

More research is needed to confirm the harms and benefits of marijuana use.

Many scientists and health bodies — including the American Cancer Society (ACS) — support the need for further scientific research on the use of marijuana and cannabinoids to treat medical conditions.

However, there is an obstacle to this: marijuana is classed as a Schedule I controlled substance by the Drug Enforcement Administration, which deters the study of marijuana and cannabinoids through its imposition of strict conditions on the researchers working in this area.

If you happen to live in a state where medical use of marijuana is legal, you and your doctor will need to carefully consider these factors and how they relate to your illness and health history before using this drug.

For instance, while there is some evidence to support the use for marijuana for pain relief, you should certainly avoid marijuana if you have a history of mental health problems.

Remember to always speak to your doctor before taking a new medicine.

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