Chronic Pain

This week is recognised and dedicated to raising awareness about chronic pain in Australia.

We’ve prepared a few infographics, in order to raise awareness about chronic pain and how Medical Cannabis may be able to help those suffering from conditions that are classified as chronic pain. This article is for educational purposes only and is not an inducement to use Medical Cannabis. Please check with your doctor or our doctors if you think Medicinal Cannabis is right for you.

Chronic pain is classified as a pain that lasts beyond normal healing time after injury or illness, generally after 3 months. It’s a very common and complex condition globally, and the pain experienced can be anything from minor to severe. The defining aspect of chronic pain is that it is ongoing and experienced daily. Chronic pain can range from a numerous amount of conditions, some for example are:

  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting
  • Cancer pain
  • Palliative care
  • PTSD
  • IBS
  • Crohn’s Disease
  • Refractory epilepsy
  • Neuropathic pain
  • Psych conditions, e.g. Schizophrenia
  • Rheumatological conditions
  • Glaucoma
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Immune Disorders
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Epilepsy
  • Anorexia and wasting associated with chronic illness (such as cancer)

 

 

Here at Cannabis Doctors Australia, we’ve found that the most common pain types within our patients are:

  • Radiculopathy 12%
  • Fibromyalgia 11.2%
  • Spinal Pain 9.9%
  • Lower Back Pain 5.9%
  • Migraine 3.3%
  • Osteoarthritis 3.2%
  • Neuropathic Pain 3.1%
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis 2.2%

The Painful Facts

Here are some painful facts about the toll of chronic pain:

  •  It’s a major health burden. It’s been determined as the third most common health burden globally.
  • Almost 1 in 3 Australian adults with severe pain experience high levels of psychological distress.
  • 56% of Australians living with chronic pain are restricted in the activities they can undertake.
  • In 2018 3.24 million Australians were living with chronic pain. This is set to rise to 5.23 million by 2050.
  • 1.6 million (1 in 5) Australians aged 45 and over had chronic pain in 2016.
  • People with chronic pain are 5 times as likely as those without pain to be ‘limited a lot’ in daily activities
  • GPs are seeing more people for chronic pain – patient encounters have risen by 67% over 10 years.
  • People with chronic pain are almost 3 times likely to be dispensed opioids and other analgesics and migraine medication as those without pain.
  • In 2017-18, there were nearly 105,000 hospitalisations involving chronic pain.

So what does the research say about Medical Cannabis and chronic pain?

Medical Cannabis and Chronic Pain

While there needs to be more research conducted to show conclusive evidence, the scientific community has studied the benefits of Medical Cannabis as an alternative for pain relief.

A study conducted by The Department of Pharmacology reviewed a large amount of Cannabis studies. From their findings, they stated that “current evidence supports the use of medical cannabis in the treatment of chronic pain in adults. Monitoring and follow-up of patients are obligatory.”.  In terms of side effects for Medical Marijuana it was also stated that “The current review of evidence from clinical trials of medicinal cannabis suggests that the adverse effects of its short-term use are modest, most of them are not serious and are self-limiting.”

A clinical trial was undertaken in 2017 to examine the effects of Medical Cannabis on chronic pain patients. Participants experienced a significant reduction in pain intensity and an improvement in both physical and emotional functioning.

Another clinical study measured the efficacy of Medical Marijuana as a supplement to an opioid-based pain relief regimen. The study concluded that 27% of patients were able to reduce the number of opioids they were taking while feeling the same level of release from their pain. [2]

In a 2015 review of 28 studies (2,454 participants) of cannabinoids in which chronic pain was assessed, the studies found that the patients showed improvements in pain measures in people taking cannabinoids.[3]

Side Effects of Medical Cannabis

Whilst studies some studies and clinical trials have shown that Medicinal Cannabis does have a range of potential health benefits for people suffering from certain conditions it’s important to note that it may cause you potential side effects. CBD has a narrow side effect profile. Some reported side effects of Cannabidiol include dry mouth, low blood pressure, light-headedness, and drowsiness, however, these are very uncommon.

Patients with autoimmune disorders or those who suffer from a lot of allergies could have a negative response from carrier oil or capsule container. In those cases, CBD Isolate (which is 99% pure CBD) would be a better form to try CBD.

Signs of liver injury have also been reported in some patients, but this is very uncommon.

Side effects from CBD are very uncommon but they might include dry mouth, nausea or even allergy to the carrier oil in the CBD. We also look for other interactions with other medications, most commonly the P450 metabolism medications.

THC side effects can potentially be:

  • Increased heart rate
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Impaired short-term memory
  • Anxiety
  • Increased appetite
  • Euphoria

It’s possible to avoid these side effects if you communicate your treatment with a Medical Cannabis specialist.

Accessing Medical Cannabis in Australia

In order to access Medicinal Cannabis products such as CBD oil in Australia legally, you will need to go through a Medicinal Cannabis specialist. Our Medical Cannabis Doctors are specialists and can apply to the TGA for approval to be able to prescribe you a particular regulated and legal product.

Furthermore, you should always buy CBD oil or any Cannabis product through legal channels to ensure that:

  • You know what you’re getting,
  • What the label claims and what’s in the bottle is the same thing, and
  • That there are no harmful substances present in the product.

Want to check if you’re eligible for Medical Cannabis? Take our eligibility test for free!

Eligibility Screen

 

Disclaimer: This is not an inducement to use Medicinal Cannabis. Medical Cannabis doesn’t work for everyone, and it may not work for you. How Cannabis affects a person depends on many things, including their size, weight, age and health, dosage and tolerance, and the results can vary. Some people may experience side effects when taking Cannabinoid medication. The information provided by CDA Clinics is for educational and informational purposes only. For medical advice, please check with your doctor and request a referral.

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