Chronic pain often significantly limits the everyday life and quality of life of those affected. A Canadian observational study on the therapy with pharmaceutical cannabis in patients with back pain, fibromyalgia, osteoarthritis, headaches and other pain provides a ray of hope: in addition to a rapid and lasting reduction in pain, the quality of life also improved significantly.
The non-experimental study involved 751 patients at the Apollo Cannabis Clinics in Toronto (57% of them women, average age: 49.6 years) with long-standing chronic pain symptoms. The effectiveness of the therapy with medicinal cannabis was examined once a month for one year with the help of a pain perception scale (Brief Brain Inventory) and a questionnaire on health-related quality of life (Short Form Health Survey SF-12).
Improvement after only one month
The results of the study are convincing:
- Already after four weeks of treatment with herbal cannabis, a significant reduction of pain and pain-associated impairments was observed. Both effects increased in the further course.
- After three months of therapy with medicinal cannabis, a significant increase in the values of health-related quality of life (physical and psychological) was observed.
- The use of medicinal cannabis led to a significant reduction in the use of painkillers in those affected who were treated with opiates at the beginning of the study.
Few side effects of cannabis therapy
As “occasional” to “frequent” side effects of the therapy with pharmaceutical cannabis, the authors of the study report dry mouth (almost 55 percent), increased appetite (about 46 percent) and drowsiness (almost 50 percent). However, these values did not increase significantly compared to the beginning of the measurement.
Even though the results of the long-term study are very promising, the authors point out the limited generalisability: The study was neither randomised nor controlled.
Safakish R, Ko G, Salimpour V, Hendin B, Sohanpal I, Loheswaran G, Yoon SYR. Medical Cannabis for the Management of Pain and Quality of Life in Chronic Pain Patients: A Prospective Observational Study. Pain Med. 2020 Nov 1;21(11):3073-3086. doi: 10.1093/pm/pnaa163. PMID: 32556203.