Why Smoking Pot Might Not Ease Your Pain
A new review of 27 trials found that evidence is lacking
As we reported in the past, exactly how marijuana affects your health is certainly controversial. Now, here’s one more thing to add to the mix: Using cannabis for chronic pain is likely ineffective, a new review published in the Annals of Internal Medicine concludes.
After analyzing data from 27 previously published studies on marijuana and chronic pain, the researchers determined that there is low-strength evidence showing that it can help relieve nerve pain, but not enough evidence out there to prove it helps with other types of persistent pain, such as from cancer, multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia, or rheumatoid arthritis. (Here are 9 other things that prove pot is still pretty damn controversial.)
Chalk it up to problems with the initial studies, the researchers write. Most were small, methodologically flawed, or had too-short a follow up period to be definitive.
But review did conclude that there seems to be limited evidence that marijuana can cause harm in its users, such as through increased risk of car accidents, psychotic symptoms, worsening of bipolar disorder, and short-term cognitive impairment.
Bottom line: We need more (and better) high-quality studies on marijuana and pain to draw a firm conclusion on whether it should be considered an effective way to treat chronic pain.
Currently, evidence-based non-drug and opioid-free meds should be used first to help patients with chronic pain, the authors write. And for those still struggling with chronic pain, they need to have a frank discussion with their doctors about the evidence in favor of its effectiveness—and its possible harm.
Marijuana Health Report:
“If cannabis is being considered for medical use, it should certainly be after all well-established treatments have failed,” cannabis research Sachin Patel, M.D. told Reuters.
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