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Cannabis and chronic pain: What conditions could it help?

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A range of chronic pain conditions do not have a cure, but symptoms can be eased with cannabis

One of the most frequently asked questions linked to the use of CBD and medical cannabis is, ‘will it ease my pain?’

While there’s no definitive answer yet, research into the subject so far is indicating a positive response, much to the relief of chronic pain sufferers across the world.

Here, Cannabis Health explores the most common chronic pain conditions cannabis may help with.

 

Fibromyalgia 

Thought to affect around one in 20 people, fibromyalgia is a long-term condition that causes pain all over the body, as well as other symptoms including headaches and muscle stiffening. There is currently no cure for the condition and those affected continue to look for new and alternative ways to manage their pain – with a recent US study finding that one third of fibromyalgia patients use medicinal cannabis for symptom relief.

A 2019 study of 367 patients supported this usage, finding that the remedy can reduce pain intensity. The team leading the research stated that “cannabis therapy should be considered to ease the symptom burden among those fibromyalgia patients who are not responding to standard care”.

 

Endometriosis

Despite affecting at least one in ten women in the UK, endometriosis is a regularly misunderstood and misdiagnosed condition. Again, there is no cure for the condition, which is caused by tissue similar to the lining of the womb growing in other places and reacting to the menstrual cycle. Treatment is limited to painkillers and hormonal contraception, however in severe cases this can provide little relief – which is why more and more women are turning to CBD.

Results from women using the remedy are encouraging, with research supporting this and finding that cannabinoids such as CBD can stop endometrial cells from multiplying, reduce inflammation and desensitise nerves that transmit pain.

 

Multiple Sclerosis (MS)

A 2017 review from the MS Society found that 66% of people with MS surveyed had used cannabis to help with their symptoms, which can include muscle spasms, stiffness and chronic pain. As much-needed research and evidence to support these claims continues to grow, the number of MS patients turning to CBD is likely to have grown even further.

While still ongoing, research certainly seems to back up usage, with Rudroff and Sosnoff stating in a 2018 study: “It is our opinion that CBD supplementation may be advisable for PwMS (patients with MS) to reduce fatigue, pain, spasticity, and ultimately improve mobility.”

Arthritis

Arthritis is the most common cause of disability in the UK, with around 10 million people of all ages thought to be affected. However, despite a growing number of cases, most sufferers are left to self-manage pain and find their own methods of relief – such as CBD.

While no rigorous clinical studies in humans have been conducted to confirm the science behind the impact of CBD on arthritic pain so far, extensive positive reviews by users and results from animal studies are encouraging. For example, a 2017 study found that CBD might be a safe and useful treatment option for joint pain associated with osteoarthritis, while a 2016 review found that topical application of CBD had the potential to relieve pain and inflammation associated with the condition.

For sufferers of these conditions – as well as other illnesses causing chronic pain – CBD has been a welcome natural alternative for easing symptoms and reducing intensity, with ever-growing research only set to increase its popularity.

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