Our latest research on medical cannabis for chronic pain

We conducted research to find out whether medical cannabis helps people with chronic pain. Our aim was to see if these patients find their anxiety, sleep, pain and discomfort improves after starting medical cannabis.

Why research medical cannabis for chronic pain?

There are currently a limited number of treatment options for chronic pain recommended by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE).

And due to laws in the past, we haven’t been able to carry out research on medical cannabis in the same way as other medicines. This means there currently isn’t much evidence to support the use of medical cannabis for chronic pain.

How was this piece of research carried out?

After a change in UK law in 2018, Sapphire Medical Clinics has provided medical cannabis for people with chronic pain who meet specific criteria. Patients agreed to take part in The UK Medical Cannabis Registry.

The UK Medical Cannabis Registry is a record of anonymous patient details, such as:

  • Their background, like their age and gender
  • The medical cannabis they’re receiving
  • Any side effects from medical cannabis
  • Results using well-known patient questionnaires that doctors use to evaluate pain, anxiety, health-related quality of life and sleep

The aim of The UK Medical Cannabis Registry is to expand the understanding of medical cannabis in the UK by collecting and analysing clinical data provided by patients.

190 patients were included in this analysis for chronic pain, and these patients:

  • Had chronic pain
  • Completed the initial questionnaire
  • Were enrolled in the registry for over a month

Of the 190 patient questionnaires we analysed, 135 patients completed the questionnaires at one month, 68 patients at three months, and 44 at six months.

What did this piece of research find out?

The patients showed significant improvements in their pain at one, three and six months, including a reduction in how severe their pain is and how much it affects their quality of life. We also found a reduction in how severe their anxiety was, and improvements in sleep quality.

Patients also reported improvements in:

  • General health and quality of life
  • Mobility at one and three months
  • Depression at one month

What further research needs to be carried out?

More research is needed to be sure of the findings in this study. This is because it was an observational study. This means it only looked at the experience of patients who had already been chosen to receive medical cannabis rather than those who were selected at random. In addition, only a small group of patients completed the questionnaires.

There are many factors that can affect how someone feels about medical cannabis, and how they rate its effectiveness.

The ideal situation would be to do a study with two different groups of people. The first group would receive medical cannabis. The second group would be given a different medication to compare how effective it is at affecting the same condition.

If you’d like to read more about this study, you can find the full write up for this study here. The original research article is published here.