Do you suffer from chronic pain?
A recent informal customer survey asked people why they use medical cannabis.
71% of our survey respondents use medical cannabis to treat pain, and 24% of these people specifically identified arthritis or arthritic conditions (e.g., fibromyalgia) as the cause of their pain.
Here’s some data on chronic pain in Canada, and why it’s so important to fight for new solutions.
What is chronic pain?
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH):
“…pain is regarded as chronic when it lasts or recurs for more than 3 to 6 months.”
It affects about 20% of individuals around the world and has been recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a disease.
According to a June 2019 Canadian Pain Task Force Report, one in five Canadians live with chronic pain, and about half of these people have been living with the illness for ten years or more.
The report also confirms:
- Chronic pain worsens with age but also affects kids and teenagers
- One in three Canadians over 65 has some form of chronic pain
- More females than males experience chronic pain
The Costs of Chronic Pain
To the extent that chronic pain reduces a person’s quality of life, it also impedes their ability to participate in work, education, relationships, and communities.
A few major health issues Canadians face in the wake of this illness include:
- A reduction in overall productivity
- A burden on our health care systems
- Emotional health problems
- Increased risk of suicide
- Sleep problems
- Cognitive impairment
Chronic pain in our society costs us too much, especially considering that there are natural forms of relief that are still not yet widely available.
If the estimated cost of chronic pain is an estimated $60 billion annually, Canadians need to keep seeking alternative solutions.
What are we doing for chronic pain management?
With the elderly population continuing to grow, costs of living going up, and health care facing increasingly tight budgets, it’s clear that there needs to be considerable focus put towards chronic pain management.
The authors of the aforementioned report see pharmaceuticals as a core component of pain treatment, but should be used as “part of an overall multidisciplinary pain management plan that also incorporates psychological, physical, and self-management dimensions.”
This position is consistent with Western medicine’s approach to pain management.
To manage pain, usually, our first step is reaching for over-the-counter pharmaceuticals such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory products (NSAIDs).
This reliance on over-the-counter products is nurtured and reinforced by millions of dollars spent annually on advertising by pharmaceutical companies.
The next level of pain relief is prescription products.
Unfortunately, almost all of these products, prescription, and non-prescription, have very significant side effects when used over a long period, including mood swings, loss of bone density, organ damage, and addiction.
Could the cure be worse than the disease?
Moving Beyond Pharmaceuticals
Medicinal cannabis contains no additives and no synthetics. Side effects are rare, and the ones that we know about are manageable.
The two main compounds in the cannabis plant are CBD (cannabidiol) and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol).
CBD reduces inflammation, which is the cause of many pain symptoms. THC reduces pain by disconnecting signals within the brain that connect physical sensations from emotional sensations.
Medicinal cannabis products can contain CBD exclusively, THC exclusively, or some combination of the two ingredients.
People who use medicinal cannabis to treat chronic pain have recognized its tremendous potential.
Even organizations such as the Arthritis Society and the Arthritis Foundation are cautiously optimistic and support further research that can bring medicinal cannabis into mainstream health care.
Yet, the research needed to make medicinal cannabis widely available is still lacking.
Why are we not, as a society, acting with a sense of urgency, especially in light of the fact that the Government of Canada has legalized medicinal cannabis?
Canadian Medical Marijuana Access Regulations granted legal access to cannabis for individuals with HIV/AIDS and other illnesses in 2001—that was 18 years ago!
We need more information on how cannabis works with the body’s endocannabinoid system.
We also need more information on products and dosing to suit individual needs.
It can take many, many years to conduct clinical trials, and valuable time is being lost. Given the scope of pain within the general population, there seems to be little urgency, let alone any momentum to push forward on the research front.
Would you try cannabis for chronic pain?
Lune Wellness remains convinced that in the long term, medicinal cannabis research will prove what the anecdotal information is telling us.
If you’ve been thinking about taking medicinal cannabis to treat pain, we recommend starting with an oral CBD product that does not contain THC.
Simply start with a small dose and gradually increase it until you feel a benefit, then stay at that dose.
Topical products can also work to reduce chronic pain which is at or just below skin level. We suggest using THC-based products for this purpose because they will be more effective.
(Note: Neither of these options will get you “high”!)
If you have any questions, contact us at email@example.com—we’re eager to help!