A recent study taking place in Israel looked at how effective medical cannabis can be at treating chronic pain, with an emphasis on long-term pain management use.
The study, originally published in The European Journal of Pain and conducted by researchers with University of Haifa, looked at patients over the course of one year and examined and measured how cannabis worked with their chronic pain conditions and how much relief they received. It checked in with users at one three, six, nine, and twelve months after the treatment started to see how patients were doing with their cannabis treatment.
“At one-year, average pain intensity declined from baseline by 20 percent. All other parameters improved by 10 to 30 percent,” the study reported. “A significant decrease of 42 percent from baseline in morphine equivalent daily dosage of opioids was also observed. Reported adverse effects were common but mostly non-serious.” Reports of adverse effects declined over the course of the study period.”
Another Study, A Consistent Finding
Of course, this is not entirely new information. It backs up what other studies have found, which is that cannabis can help with long term pain relief and reduction of opiate use, as patients rely on cannabis instead of more dangerous treatment options. However, there are some things about the study that are unique.
“This study is novel in identifying possible predictors for treatment success, including normal to long sleep duration, lower BMI and lower depression scores,” the study explains in detail. “In contrast to current beliefs the diagnosis of neuropathic pain predicts a less favorable outcome. These findings provide physicians with new data to support decision making on recommendations for MC treatment.”
And, as the study points out, while these numbers have been observed before, it’s still controversial whether or not cannabis can truly and effectively be used for pain management. The question-based approach of this study was meant to assess the long-term effects of cannabis and pain, instead of only short-term, observable results.
Overall, the “real-world” aspects of the study, relying on reporting in by people on their own pain, shows that medical cannabis use definitely has an impact on pain, although the study also reveals that it can be connected to non-serious side effects, driving impairment while medicating with cannabis.
Authors of the study concluded: “This prospective, comprehensive and large-scale cohort demonstrated an overall mild to modest long-term improvement of all investigated measures, including pain, associated symptoms and importantly, reduction in opioid (and other analgesics) use. It seems likely that MC [medical cannabis] treatment can be safe for most patients.”
“This prospective study provides further evidence for the effects of MC on chronic pain and related symptoms, demonstrating an overall mild to modest long-term improvement of the tested measures and identifying possible predictors for treatment success.”
While this study is still not the definitive word on how cannabis impacts pain management, it provides even more evidence that cannabis does in fact help long-term with pain, and that it is a viable alternative to other, more dangerous, pain management methods.