Chronic Pain and Medicinal Cannabis

Chronic Pain and Medicinal Cannabis

 

What is chronic pain?

 

The World Health Organization (WHO) considers chronic pain a disease in itself and not a symptom as medicine has traditionally treated pain. In addition, WHO describes chronic pain as the greatest threat to the quality of life worldwide and reiterates that the treatment of pain is a human right. 80% of cancer patients, in advanced stage, suffer from chronic pain.

 

What is chronic pain?

 

Chronic pain may be due to some traumatic injury, aging, incorrect lifting, obesity and poor posture. In many cases, chronic pain is an indication of an underlying disease, such as arthritis, diabetes, cancer, osteoporosis, herniated discs, herpes, neuropathy, multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia, headaches, migraines, muscle pain, etc.

 

Chronic pain statistics:

 

An investigation by the Colombian Association for the Study of Pain (Aced), which analyzed the prevalence of chronic pain, found that it affects 46 percent of people in Colombia. Seven out of every 10 people (70%) who say they have it have received treatment without finding improvement.

 

A recent study by Torrance et al found that the relevance of chronic pain, of any origin, in the general population is 48%.

 

Pain is the most frequent cause of consultation with a health professional. The Spanish Society of Pain (SED) estimates that between 40% and 80% of medical consultations are related to pain, being the most frequent cause for patients to go to the medical center.

This graph shows the importance of chronic pain in Colombia, where it finds the greatest potential for drug demand. Unfortunately, this demand is currently focused on chemical and synthetic medicines.

 

Conventional treatments against chronic pain:

 

Pain relief is a human right. However, the absence of policies for its correct approach and the barriers to access to medicines mean that it is repeatedly violated.

 

The first medications that were used were the tricyclic antidepressants: amitriptyline. Neurolécpticos: Levomepromacin, and then extended the spectrum to anticonvulsants: Clonazepam, pregabalin, gabapentin. Anesthetics – anti-inflammatories: paracetamol, Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as naproxen, celecoxib and ibuprofen and aspirin. Bisphosphonates, muscle relaxants, antidepressants specific inhibitors of serotonin and norepinephrine. Opioids: codeine, tramadol hydrochloride, morphine, fentanyl.

 

With most of these drugs tolerance to drugs can be generated (and the need to increase the dose), hyperalgesia (increased sensitivity to pain) and addiction. Those based on opioids can cause a variety of devastating side effects (restlessness, anxiety) and long-term problems (tachycardia, addiction, and suicidal tendencies). This has led to an epidemic of opioids, which has led to a considerable increase in deaths.

 

This has become in these countries a problem that has demanded attention and answers aimed at solving it in a different way.

 

Medicinal cannabis as an alternative to the relief of Chronic Pain:

Medical cannabis is an analgesic and provides a natural alternative to chemical pain medications. Those who consume medicinal cannabis as a treatment for pain may experience a general increase in their quality of life due to the many other medicinal benefits it provides.

 

Based on the experience of other countries such as Israel, Australia, Canada and the United States, cannabinoids are useful for the treatment of chronic pain.

 

In the words of Dr. Jordi Pérez, director of the Cancer Pain Program and Professor of Anesthesiology at McGill University in Montreal (Canada): “The available studies demonstrate its analgesic efficacy mainly in chronic pain pain such as neuropathic or oncological, providing benefits moderate for spasticity, insomnia, fatigue, anxiety and nausea. “

 

Dr. Pérez has pointed out that patients who treat chronic pain with medicinal cannabis and respond effectively, show a tendency to decrease the consumption of other analgesic drugs such as opioids, antidepressants and anti-inflammatory drugs and less possibility of developing dependence and addiction.

 

Medical cannabis is significantly safer for older people with chronic pain than opioids, according to researchers at Ben-Gurion University and Soroka University. Medical therapy with cannabis can significantly reduce chronic pain in patients over 65 years of age without adverse effects, according to researchers at Ben-Gurion University in Israel.

 

The new study, published in The European Journal of Internal Medicine, found that cannabis therapy is safe and effective for older patients seeking to address the symptoms of cancer, Parkinson’s, post-traumatic stress disorder, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, sclerosis multiple and other medical problems.

 

Some pain experts are advising that doctors recommend cannabis therapy, in addition to or in place of opiate medications to “reduce the morbidity and mortality associated with prescription pain medications.” Medical cannabis is a much better and safer and more effective alternative.

 

The Foundation for Health Research (Fuinsa) launched an initiative a decade ago, the Platform Without Pain, to raise awareness of the need for both the system and the patients themselves to take pain seriously. “The four vital signs are blood pressure, pulse, body temperature and respiratory rate. We defend that pain is added as a fifth sign, “says Antón Herreros, Fuinsa’s CEO.