Cannabis shown to be an effective treatment option for back pain: Study review

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A systematic review by a team of researchers affiliated with the Swedish Neuroscience Institute in Seattle, Wash., have found cannabis to be an effective treatment for back pain.

Published in Global Spine Journal, the researchers reviewed four studies composed of 110 patients.

“In each study, there was a quantifiable advantage of cannabis therapy for alleviating back pain. There were no serious adverse effects reported,” researchers wrote.


Of the four studies that met the criteria for review, one was conducted in Austria while the remaining three were based in the U.S. The majority of study participants were women (86 per cent) with an average age of 45.

Participants consumed cannabinoids orally or by smoking or vaporizing, with the type of cannabis varying between dried flower THC and the synthetic cannabinoids dronabinol and Nabilone.

Investigators concluded that “cannabis was shown to be effective to treat back pain with an acceptable side effect profile.”

They also called for additional studies, particularly with a focus on long-term follow-up.

Last year, an international study led by McMaster University scientists in Hamilton, Ont. found that cannabis could offer relief to those living with chronic pain.

Researchers analyzed data from 32 randomized controlled trials and discovered, when compared to a placebo, non-inhaled cannabis led to small improvements in pain relief, physical functioning and sleep quality.

Those findings are in line with a study out of Harvard published last year in the journal Experimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology. The study focused on 37 patients and sought to answer whether or not long-term medical cannabis use could alleviate symptoms associated with chronic pain.

Once initiating cannabis use, study participants saw improvements in pain levels, sleep and general quality of life

“The results generally suggest increased THC exposure was related to pain-related improvement, while increased CBD exposure was related to improved mood,” investigators wrote.

Last month, a study published in the journal Pain Physician found that cannabis can reduce reliance on opioids for those living with chronic pain.

Involving 115 chronic pain patients with intractable pain, researchers found that medical cannabis allowed patients to reduce their daily morphine milligram equivalent intake by up to 73 per cent.

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