Cannabis for Chronic Pain: A Rapid Systematic Review of Randomized Control Trials
Pain Management Nursing
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© 2020 American Society for Pain Management Nursing Background: The high prevalence of inadequately managed chronic pain indicates the need for alternative and multimodal treatment options. Use of cannabinoids in medicine is becoming a growing area of interest, specifically in the context of chronic pain. The efficacy of cannabinoids for the treatment of chronic pain is not well established. Aims: The objectives of this rapid systematic literature review are to summarize the efficacy and secondary effects of cannabinoids for chronic pain management. Design: Rapid systematic review of randomized control trials. Participants: Individuals with chronic pain (n = 1352). Methods: Embase, Cochrane, PubMed, and CINAHL databases were searched. Inclusion criteria included cannabis of any formulation used to treat chronic pain of any origin. Results: Thirteen randomized controlled trials met the inclusion criteria. Five demonstrated moderate analgesic effects of cannabis for chronic pain, and eight concluded there were no significant impacts on pain in the cannabis-treated group versus the control group. Conclusions: Evidence on the efficacy of cannabinoids for chronic pain shows patient-perceived benefit but inconsistent other treatment effects. These findings indicate cannabinoids may have a modest analgesic effect for chronic neuropathic pain conditions, and that the use of cannabinoids is relatively safe, with few severe adverse events. This review concludes that cannabinoids may have a potential role in chronic pain management. Inconsistent evidence on the efficacy of cannabis to treat chronic pain indicates the need for more studies on a larger scale. Clinicians should draw on available evidence and consider cannabinoids as a potential approach to chronic pain management.