Chronic pain is common. Today, one in five Canadian adults suffers chronic pain, and that percentage is expected to rise to one in three as the population ages. Opioids are typically prescribed for patients with chronic pain. A positive consequence of wider use of medical cannabis in recent years has been a remarkable (reportedly 44%) decrease in the consumption of opioids by the patient group that has supplemented or replaced an opioid treatment regimen with cannabis.
While, to date, there have been no randomized controlled trials (RCTs) testing the efficacy of medical cannabis in treating chronic pain generally, there have been at least five RCTs evaluating its analgesic effectiveness with neuropathic (nervous system) pain.
Medical Cannabis and Chronic Pain: Current ResearchThe amount of research into the treatment of chronic pain with medical cannabis (and the resulting effect of lower opioid use) is growing rapidly. The following may be useful starting points for those interested in further information:
- The Effect of Medicinal Cannabis on Pain and Quality-of-Life Outcomes in Chronic Pain: A Prospective Open-label Study
- Medical Marijuana for Treatment of Chronic Pain and Other Medical and Psychiatric Problems: A Clinical Review
- Systematic Review and Meta-analysis of Cannabis Treatment for Chronic Pain
- Smoked cannabis for chronic neuropathic pain: a randomized controlled trial
- Medical Cannabis Use Is Associated With Decreased Opiate Medication Use in a Retrospective Cross-Sectional Survey of Patients With Chronic Pain