Chronic pain is a debilitating condition that effects over 100 million Americans, which is 4 times more than the rate of Diabetes and 9 times the rate of Cancer.1, 2, 3
Although, most chronic pain sufferers can recall an initial event that triggered the condition – serious infection, sports injury, surgery – some patients will develop chronic pain without any such injury or event (AAPM).
Survey’s have indicated that neuropathic pain is one of the most common conditions related to chronic pain. In a survey by the NIH, respondents with chronic pain indicated that low back pain was the most common (27%), followed by severe headache or migraine pain (15%), neck pain (15%) and facial ache or pain (4%).4
This condition effects people from all walks of life and age groups. It is estimated that over 76.5 million Americans deal with chronic pain lasting more than 24hrs. Older adults aged 45-64 years are the most likely to report this pain lasting more than 24hrs followed by young adults ages 20-44.5
Back pain is the leading cause of disability in Americans under 45 years old. More than 26 million Americans between the ages of 20-64 experience frequent back pain.5
This is a condition that effects people from all age groups. It is estimated that more than one-quarter of Americans (26%) age 20 years and over – or, an estimated 76.5 million Americans – report that they deal with a chronic pain lasting for more than 24hrs.5
Older populations aged 45-64 years were the most likely to report pain lasting more than 24 hours (30%). Twenty-five percent (25%) of young adults age 20-44 reported pain, and adults age 65 and over were the least likely to report pain (21%).5
Opioids are commonly used to treat patients with chronic pain (CP), though there is little evidence that they are effective for long term CP treatment. However, the negative effects of opiates are well illustrated in the literature.8
Surveys of chronic pain sufferers who sought care from their physician and were currently using an opioid to treat their pain have expressed little to no control over their pain. In addition, over half have said that they experience debilitating pain more than once a day; thus severely decreasing their quality of life and well-being.
86% reported an inability to sleep well.
Prescription painkillers are considered a major contributor to the total number of drug deaths. In 2007, for example, nearly 28,000 Americans died from unintentional drug poisoning, and of these, nearly 12,000 involved prescription pain relievers.
Currently, the common treatment for chronic pain is with an opioid (e.g., Vicodin, Percocet, Oxycodone, Oxycontin etc…). However, there is actually little evidence to prove these drugs are effective at treating and managing chronic pain. In contrast, the negative side effects and addictive properties of opioids have been illustrated in research and clinical literature very well.6
Surveys of chronic pain sufferers who sought care from their physician and were currently using an opioid to treat their pain have expressed little to no control over their pain.10
Over the past decade, researchers have begun to study whether medical marijuana is an effective treatment for chronic pain vs. standard of care with opioids.
The current published research has suggested that substituting medical marijuana for opioids and other medications for chronic pain treatments has been significantly better at controlling the patients’ symptoms while reducing the harmful side effects commonly associated with patients on opioids. In addition to alleviating their pain, patients have expressed that medical marijuana has had a positive effect on reducing their usage and dependence on highly addictive pain medicines. Lastly, due to the low side effect panel, medical marijuana has also been shown to be a efficacious alternative for older patients’ with complex comorbidities. 7, 8, 9