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Medical Marijuana and Chronic Pain

Posted by Jason Draizin on 11/24/2010 in Medical Marijuana Conditions

Chronic pain is one of the most commonly cited reasons for using medical marijuana by patients across the country, and for good reason. The World Health Organization estimates that 20% of people worldwide have some form of chronic pain. This includes Fibromyalgia, Back Pain, Neck Pain, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, TMJ Disorder, Sciatica and more.

Many chronic pain sufferers actually are afflicted with neuropathic pain (aka nerve-related pain)—a condition that is associated with numerous diseases, including diabetes, cancer, multiple sclerosis, and HIV/AIDS. In most cases, the use of standard analgesic medications such as opiates and NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) is ineffective at relieving neuropathic pain. But several studies indicate that medical marijuana is an effective medicine for patients suffering from neuropathic pain who do not respond to traditional analgesic medications.

Take the 2008 study conducted by researchers at the University of California at Davis called “A Randomized, Placebo-Controlled, Crossover Trial of Cannabis Cigarettes in Neuropathic Pain,” which was published in the Journal of Pain, for example. This study conducted a double-blinded, placebo-controlled, crossover study evaluating the analgesic efficacy of smoking cannabis for neuropathic pain. The researchers concluded that this study “adds to a growing body of evidence that cannabis may be effective at ameliorating neuropathic pain, and may be an alternative for patients who do not respond to, or cannot tolerate, other drugs.”

Furthermore, the researchers reported that "cannabis reduced pain intensity and unpleasantness equally. Thus, as with opioids, cannabis does not rely on a relaxing or tranquilizing effect, but rather reduces both the core component of nociception (nerve pain) and the emotional aspect of the pain experience to an equal degree."

The body of research around medical marijuana and chronic pain continues to grow. We will continue to share the latest research.