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Young adults with chronic pain more likely to use cannabis or CBD

More than one in five young adults who experience chronic pain report using cannabis or CBD

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Chronic pain: A woman crouched down holding her knee which is red with pain

More than one in five young adults who experience chronic pain report using cannabis or CBD to manage it, according to a US survey.

A new online survey of 2,000 US adults by The Harris Poll on behalf of the Samueli Foundation examined the experiences of chronic pain patients. The Samueli Foundation is an integrative health program based in the US.

Young adults aged between 18 to 34 were more likely to report experiencing chronic pain in comparison to older adults. A large majority of them, at 73 per cent, report they are experiencing daily pain.

The survey also found that one in five young adults who experience chronic pain say they use cannabis and/or CBD oil to combat their pain. Those who do are twice as likely to use cannabis or CBD compare to those over 45.

Chronic pain: A banner advert for Medical Cannabis Clinic

Chronic pain

The most common area for chronic pain was in the back, according to 32 per cent of the participants. A further 20 per cent said they experienced knee and neck pain.

The survey highlighted that young adults are interested in accessing help from their healthcare providers in managing their pain. Nearly three in 10 patients said they had spoken to their doctors about their pain more since the start of the pandemic. This is in comparison to just 15 per cent of those aged 45 or over.

Wayne Jonas, MD, executive director of Integrative Health Programs at Samueli Foundation said: “The prevalence of persistent pain among young adults is alarming, and their use of cannabis or CBD oil indicates they are seeking more ways to manage their pain through self-care. We know cannabis and CBD can be effective in treating pain that stems from various conditions, such as cancer.”

He added: “There’s insufficient evidence to support the effectiveness of CBD and cannabis in treating common chronic pain conditions. Instead, young people should be working with their physicians to first try non-drug treatments that are recommended by the medical community, such as massage therapy, yoga, physical therapy, and exercise.”

Pain options

Among the adults with chronic pain, 78 per cent said they used non-drug treatments while 70 per cent relied on pharmacology treatments. The most common treatments were over the counter pain relief, exercise, heat or ice, healthy eating, physical therapy or massage therapy. A further 16 per cent said they use cannabis or CBD.

Some of the participants highlighted that the pandemic had made them change their pain management. This included 37 per cent switching to over the counter medications and 35 per cent increasing their exercise to more than they did before the pandemic.

Jones said: “It’s clear that young people are trying to deal with their chronic pain on their own, but they also want and need their providers’ help in determining the most effective treatments for their pain. And primary care providers, who manage most patients with pain, should steer their patients – especially young adults – to proven, effective strategies to manage their everyday pain.”

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