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Chronic Pain – Can I use Cannabis to treat my chronic pain?
- The facts
Pain UK, a charity which supports people living with pain conditions, estimates that there are currently 28 million people across the UK living with chronic pain. Chronic pain is pain which has been continuous for a long period and which is beyond that which can be explained by other physical injuries or conditions. There are different types of chronic pain disorders and they can affect different parts of the body. The most common type if chronic pain in the UK is lower back.
- Chronic pain in injury compensation claims
At Aston Knight Solicitors, a local solicitor in Bury, we have experience of representing chronic pain sufferers in their personal injury compensation claims arising out of accident at work claims, road traffic accidents, trips or falls or clinical negligence claims. Chronic pain issues can be fairly controversial in injury compensation claims with insurers often disputing the veracity of the chronic pain. Our experience has shown management of chronic pain in patients with multiple problems is complex, usually requiring specific treatment and often patients do not recover but learn to cope with the condition, becoming reliant on medication. A common question asked by our clients is whether cannabis can help and/or be used legally to treat their common pain?
- Cannabis – a new hope?
Whilst we are unable to offer any advices on medication, we can advise that research has suggested a component found in the cannabis plant can be helpful at treating chronic pain. Cannabidiol (CBD) oil has been traditionally used for thousands of years to treat various types of pain, but it has only recently begun to be studied again by the medical community.
- What is CBD Oil?
CBD is one of many compounds, known as cannabinoids, that are found in the cannabis plant. Researchers have been looking at the potential therapeutic uses of CBD.
- Is CBD Marijuana?
Until recent years, the most well-known compound in cannabis was delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). This is the most active ingredient in marijuana.
Marijuana contains both THC and CBD, but the compounds have different effects. THC is the component of marijuana that’s responsible for getting you high.
Unlike THC, CBD is not psychoactive. This means that it does not change the state of mind of the person who uses it. However, it does appear to produce significant changes in the body and has been found to have medical benefits.
- Does CBD oil work in the treatment of Chronic Pain?
Studies on CBD oil and pain management have shown a great deal of promise. CBD can offer an alternative for people who have chronic pain and rely on more dangerous, habit-forming medications like opiods.
Studies published in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry in 2012 and in 2013 in the Journal of Pain suggest that cannabis might be more effective at relieving the pain associated with CRPS than opiod based medications, including morphine. Other studies show that CBD reduces chronic pain with muscle spasms, arthritis, and nerve pain. Further studies published in the Journal of Experimental Medicine found cannabinoids such as CBD could be a helpful new treatment for people with chronic pain.
Research suggests pain and inflammation can be reduced through CBD use and patients were not likely to build up a tolerance to the effects of CBD, so they would not need to continually increase their dose.
- Is CBD a medicine?
In 2017, the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) classed cannabidiol (CBD) as a medicine in the UK, but it has yet to be licensed as a medicine. As a medicine, CBD can only be prescribed by doctors in very special and limited circumstances. British drug company GW Pharmaceuticals is leading the charge with two medicines – Sativex and Epidiolex. The first is a nasal spray that the British government approved for severe pain and to treat multiple sclerosis (MS); the second is a syrup that is still being studied in the US for its potential to treat two of the hardest forms of childhood epilepsy.
- CBD for Chronic Pain Relief
Researchers believe that CBD interacts with receptors in your brain and immune system. Receptors are tiny proteins attached to your cells that receive chemical signals from different stimuli and help your cells respond. This creates anti-inflammatory and painkilling effects that help with pain management. This means that CBD oil may benefit people with chronic pain, such as chronic back pain.
One study assessed how good CBD works to relieve chronic pain. The review looked at studies conducted between the late 1980s and 2007. Based on these reviews, researchers concluded CBD was effective in overall pain management without adverse side effects. They also noted that CBD was beneficial in treating insomnia related to chronic pain. The authors of the study also noted that CBD was most helpful in people with MS.
- CBD use in the fight against cancer
CBD has been studied for its use as an anti-cancer agent. A study posted in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology notes that CBD appears to block cancer cells from spreading around the body and invading an area entirely. The research indicates that this compound tends to suppress the growth of cancer cells and promote the death of these cells.
Researchers note that CBD may help in cancer treatment because of its low toxicity levels. They call for it to be studied along with standard treatments, to check for synergistic effects.
- Further research
Overall, researchers agree that while there isn’t conclusive data to support CBD oil as the preferred method of pain management, these types of products have a lot of potential. CBD products might be able to offer relief for many people who have chronic pain, all without causing intoxication and dependence. Oil versions of CBD may not be as effective as other forms, and more human studies are needed.
If you or a loved one have been involved in an accident or injury at work and require legal advice please contact a member of our specialist team on 0800 999 6661 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
By Emma Pearce, Solicitor