A significant proportion of Minnesotans with intractable pain who are taking medicinal cannabis are seeing a pain reduction of 30% or more.
Intractable pain is severe and constant pain that can’t be cured by any known means and it’s often treated with opioids; leading to a risk of dependence, abuse and side effects.
In 2016, intractable pain was added to the list of qualifying conditions for the use of medicinal cannabis in Minnesota. Between August 1 and December 31 2016, 2,245 intractable pain patients enrolled in the state’s program. The most common ailments were axial back pain (23%), radicular back pain (14%), fibromyalgia/myofascial pain (10%), neuropathy (8%) and osteoarthritis (7%).
A study published last week that was conducted by the Minnesota Department of Health looked at the results for this initial group.
Among those who responded to the patient (54% response rate) and health care practitioner (40% response rate) surveys, a high level of benefit was reported by 61% and 43%, respectively; relaying scores of 6 or 7 on a 7-point scale.
Just 10% of patients and 24% of health care practitioners reported scores of 1, 2 or 3 (little or no benefit).
Forty-two percent of patients experiencing moderate to high pain levels reported a pain reduction of thirty percent or more.
Another interesting outcome was 63% of the 353 patients who self-reported taking opioid medications when beginning to take medical cannabis reduced or eliminated opioid use after six months.
This positive result has been seen in other pain-related studies, including one out of University of Michigan in 2016 that found patients using medical cannabis to manage chronic pain experienced a 64 percent reduction in their use of prescription opioid-based medications.
For the Minnesota group, while 40 percent of patients reported adverse side effects (with 90 percent stating