Forty-two percent of Minnesota’s patients taking medical cannabis for intractable pain reported a pain reduction of 30 percent or more, according to a new study conducted by the Minnesota Department of Health.
“This study helps improve our understanding of the potential of medical cannabis for treating pain,” said Minnesota Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm. “We need additional and more rigorous study, but these results are clinically significant and promising for both pain treatment and reducing opioid dependence.”
The first-of-its-kind research study is based on the experiences of the initial 2,245 people enrolled for intractable pain in Minnesota’s medical cannabis program from Aug. 1, 2016 to Dec. 31, 2016. Of this initial group, 2,174 patients purchased medical cannabis within the study’s observation period and completed a required self-evaluation before each purchase.
As part of the self-evaluation, patients completed the PEG (pain, enjoyment and general activity) screening tool. On a scale of 0 to 10 (with 0 being no pain and 10 being the highest pain), patients rated their level of pain, how pain interfered with their enjoyment of life and how pain interfered with their general activity.
Using the PEG scale data, 42 percent of the patients who scored moderate to high pain levels at the beginning of the measurement achieved a reduction in pain scores of 30 percent or more, and 22 percent of patients both achieved and maintained a reduction of 30 percent or more over four months. The 30 percent reduction threshold is often used in pain studies to define clinically meaningful improvement.
Health care practitioners caring for program-enrolled patients suffering from intractable pain reported similar reductions in pain scores, saying 41 percent of patients achieved at least a reduction of 30 percent or more.
The study also found that of the 353 patients who self-reported taking opioid medications