New data from the journal of Advances in Therapy shows that more people now than in the past are using cannabis to treat and cope with chronic pain—and that those who are using it as treatment report favorable results.
The study, which came from Harvard Medical School, looked at cannabis use trends in pain patients starting in 2011 and ending in 2015. Currently, chronic pain is the most commonly reported qualifying condition by medical cannabis patients who report data back to their state medical programs regarding why and how they consume cannabis.
“This overall increase is not surprising given that several studies have shown cannabis to be effective in mitigating inflammation and demonstrated benefit to chronic pain symptoms with the use of cannabis, including improved pain, functional outcomes, and quality of life in patients with chronic pain syndromes,” the study explains regarding the results. “With chronic pain projected to increase over the next two decades to a rate of one in three people from the current rate of one in five people, our findings foretell that cannabis use can be projected to increase even more rapidly.”
“Over the course of our study…we identified a significant and progressive increase in the number of patients using cannabis. In patients with chronic pain, cannabis use more than doubled during this period,” the study added.
The reported average age of chronic pain patients who use cannabis were 45 years old, and most reported users were lower on the socio-economic scale, showing that it could be seen as a more affordable source of pain medication for some who suffer from chronic pain.
“Survey data indicates that the use of cannabis is common among patients with chronic pain, and patients who use it for this indication typically report it to be an effective treatment,” the researchers continued in their report. “Majorities further report that cannabis possesses fewer side effects than conventional pain medications and that it provides greater symptom management than opioids.”
The study also points out that longitudinal trials have shown that cannabis therapy is both safe and helpful for pain treatment, at least according to what most have experienced. Those who reported daily use of cannabis claim that they experienced a “significant reduction in average pain intensity while reporting no increased risk of adverse cognitive or pulmonary events.”
“[T]his study suggests that the adverse effects of medical cannabis are modest and comparable quantitatively and qualitatively to prescription cannabinoids,” the authors conclude. “The results suggest that cannabis at average doses of 2.5g/d in current cannabis users may be safe as part of a carefully monitored pain management program when conventional treatments have been considered medically inappropriate or inadequate.”
More research still needs to be done, but cannabis definitely seems to be a preferred pain treatment for those who deal with chronic issues, and if this trend continues, there will be even more demand. Many states have already added pain as a qualifying condition for medical cannabis, and this study may lead more to follow their example.