Inhaled Cannabis Is Not All That Helpful for Chronic Neuropathic Pain

December 18, 2015
Caitlyn Fitzpatrick

While it’s been observed that medical marijuana helps reduce intensity in painful conditions, the benefits may have some limitations.

While it’s been observed that medical marijuana helps reduce intensity in painful conditions, the benefits may have some limitations.

Chronic neuropathic pain occurs when there’s damage to the central nervous system. Strategies to relieve the debilitating condition range from prescription opioids to antidepressants to even spicy foods. Cannabis arrived on the scene as a medical therapeutic; however, the delivery method was less than desirable for many. This is when inhaled cannabis came to be, and on the bright side it reduced carbon monoxide levels. However, a recent analysis in The Journal of Pain found that only a small proportion of patients actually experience pain relief from the inhaled cannabis, and even then the relief is short-term.

  • The MD Magazine Neuropathic Pain condition center

The researchers evaluated patient data from five randomized controlled trials which concentrated on the outcomes of inhaled cannabis in the treatment of chronic painful neuropathy when compared to a placebo. They used a novel Bayesian responder model to assess treatment effects of 178 patients with 405 observed responses.

Only one out of every five or six patients with chronic neuropathic pain experienced pain reduction. In addition, the inhaled cannabis only provided short-term results.

“We caution that the small number of studies and participants, the shore follow-up, shortcomings in allocation concealment, and considerable attrition limit the conclusions that can be drawn from the review,” the authors noted.

Additional trials are needed to fully analyze the benefits, or lack thereof, of inhaled cannabis, but for now there does not appear to be much.

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