Exploring the impact of medical cannabis on the well-being of chronic pain patients
International studies chronicling the treatment of pain management positions cannabis as ally in the physical and mental well-being of patients
January 26, 2024 By Jake Hribljan
Chronic pain affects millions of individuals globally, prompting search for effective relief. A new study by researchers out of Finland, published in the Journal of Cannabis Research, explores the mechanisms behind cannabis’ therapeutic use for pain management, and whether medical cannabis goes beyond merely reducing pain intensity, but impacts the broader pain experience.
The research, conducted through a retrospective internet survey, focused on a group of Finnish chronic pain patients, with 40 using medical cannabis and 161 relying on opioids. The study aimed to understand the nuanced effects of both treatments by evaluating patients’ responses to statements describing positive and negative phenomenological effects of the medicine.
The results revealed three distinct experience factors: negative side effects, positive holistic effects, and positive emotional effects.
Notably, the medical cannabis group consistently reported higher scores in positive emotional effects and holistic positive effects compared to the opioid group.Advertisement
This suggests that while opioids and medical cannabis were perceived as equally effective in reducing pain intensity, medical cannabis had additional positive impacts on factors such as emotion, functionality, and overall well-being.
Chronic pain is a prevalent issue, affecting 35 per cent of adults in Finland alone. Opioids have long been a standard treatment for pain relief but come with severe side effects. Medical cannabis, on the other hand, is known for its milder side effects, yet its efficacy and mechanisms of action have been debated.
Previous research has predominantly focused on the analgesic effects of medical cannabis. This study delves into the multifaceted nature of the pain experience, exploring whether the psychoactive effects of cannabis contribute to its therapeutic benefits. The research aligns with earlier qualitative studies, indicating that medical cannabis may positively impact overall well-being and functionality in chronic pain patients.
The findings emphasize the potential of medical cannabis not only in alleviating pain intensity but also in enhancing emotional well-being and overall quality of life for chronic pain sufferers.
Further research may shed more light on the specific mechanisms by which medical cannabis influences the pain experience, paving the way for more tailored and effective pain management strategies in the future.
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