Chronic pain occurs in over 20% of the population. It differs from what medical professionals refer to as acute pain, which is a normal nervous system sensation designed to alert an individual of an injury or ailment. Chronic pain is persistent and untraceable to any one injury or illness. The pain signals fire repeatedly over months, years or even a lifetime. Finding effective ways to help chronic pain sufferers can change lives.
Conditions Associated with Chronic Pain
A survey conducted by the National Institute of Health Statistics in the U.S. found that chronic pain usually falls into one of four categories:
- Lower back pain
- Migraines or headaches
- Neck pain
- Facial ache
Current Chronic Pain Management
Pain management techniques vary, but are largely inadequate. The common treatment protocols that include over-the-counter NSAIDS, like ibuprofen, or prescription narcotics, such as Percocet, are rife with side effects. Everything from stroke to heart attack to drug dependence can be caused by current pain control options.
Review of Randomized Control Trials for Medical Marijuana
A 2011 study published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology evaluated 22 randomized controlled trials that focused on the use of cannabinoids to treat non-cancer pain. The systematic review highlighted the use of smoked cannabis, oromucosal cannabis extacts, nabilone and dronabinol (synthetic tetrahydrocannabinol—THC—medications), and a novel THC analogue in the treatment of conditions associated with long-term pain. The review looked at 766 participants.
Reviewers identified 18 out of the 22 trials showed cannabis offered an analgesic effect for pain suffers.
- 15 for neuropathic pain
- 1 for fibromyalgia
- 1 for rheumatoid arthritis
- 1 associated with opioid use
- 2 for mixed chronic pain such as muscular conditions or migraines
The researchers also noted that there were no serious side effects reported with the use of medical marijuana in these trials. A few participants reported a feeling of sedation, dizziness, and dry mouth. That is far fewer side effects than what patients experience with more mainstream management options for chronic pain. With one in every five people in the world suffering from some kind of chronic pain, this study's findings an almost 80% positive outcome are not to be ignored.