Chronic Pain and Cannabis Treatment
Chronic pain, separate from short-term discomfort, can last years and exist without prior pain-causing conditions, including arthritis, cancer, and infection. Along with preexisting conditions, the most common complaint of chronic pain is related to headaches and lower back pain, according to The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS).
In the worst-case scenario, one could suffer from multiple chronic pain conditions, including chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, endometriosis, and inflammatory bowel disease, among others. While NINDS reports, “scientists believe that advances in neuroscience will lead to more and better treatments for chronic pain in the years to come,” for now, long-term discomfort is treated in several ways, one of which is with medical cannabis.
But there is good news; many findings point to medical cannabis as an ideal treatment. The journal PAIN, the periodical for the International Association for the Study of Pain, reports that “medical cannabis patients, including two-thirds with chronic-pain, report health benefits including improved pain management and sleep.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released chronic pain statistics in 2018, noting that in 2016, up to 20.4% of Americans suffered from chronic pain, and up to 8% had high-impact chronic pain. There are several symptoms of chronic pain. The most notable include insomnia, fatigue, joint and muscle aches, burning discomfort, loss of stamina, anxiety, and depression, reports Healthline.
The last symptom of depression is so prevalent that the journal PAIN conducted a 2016 study, citing that up to 60.8% of chronic pain patients studied reported distress. “The total cost to society, including indirect costs of pain due to lower economic productivity, was estimated at $560-$635 billion—greater than the cost of heart disease, cancer, or diabetes,” reports PAIN.
Cannabinoids and Chronic Pain
Aside from the painful symptoms, the CDC reports that chronic pain is directly linked to mobile restriction in daily tasks, addiction to opioids, anxiety, depression, and reduced quality of life. The journal Health Affairs reported in 2017 that after researching state registry data of medical cannabis qualifying conditions, chronic pain was the most “historically” qualifying condition for use, with up to 64.5% licensed patients confirming it successfully relieved their discomfort.
A 2019 Healthline report confirmed that most patients who have chronic pain admit to using medical cannabis to relieve it, explicitly citing the University of Michigan School of Medicine research fellow Dr. Kevin Boehnke on the matter. “Given the context of the opioid epidemic and the consistent observational studies that report medical cannabis patients substituting cannabis for pain medications, we now have a better sense of how widespread that practice and rationale may be,” said Dr. Boehnke.
Dozens of additional studies proving chronic pain sufferers prefer medical cannabis over narcotic pain killers, especially considering the current opioid epidemic, determine that it benefits patients in a safer, more effective manner. It is hopeful that further research will prove the same, giving new hope to chronic pain sufferers seeking a less painful life.