Cannabinoids for the Treatment of Chronic Non-Cancer Pain: An Updated Systematic Review of Randomized Controlled Trials

Abstract

An updated systematic review of randomized controlled trials examining cannabinoids in the treatment of chronic non-cancer pain was conducted according to PRISMA guidelines for systematic reviews reporting on health care outcomes. Eleven trials published since our last review met inclusion criteria. The quality of the trials was excellent. Seven of the trials demonstrated a significant analgesic effect. Several trials also demonstrated improvement in secondary outcomes (e.g., sleep, muscle stiffness and spasticity). Adverse effects most frequently reported such as fatigue and dizziness were mild to moderate in severity and generally well tolerated. This review adds further support that currently available cannabinoids are safe, modestly effective analgesics that provide a reasonable therapeutic option in the management of chronic non-cancer pain.

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Acknowledgments

The authors thank Robin Parker for her excellent assistance in conducting the literature search for this review

Conflict of Interest

ML is a founding director of Panag Pharm Inc and is medical advisor to Abide Therapeutics both start up companies focused on development of nonpsychotropic cannabinoids for treatment of pain and other health conditions, she also sits on the Board of the Canadian Consortium for the Investigation of Cannabinoids (CCIC) a nonprofit organization dedicated to research and education on cannabinoids.

MW has received a grant from Prairie Plant Systems for a clinical trial of cannabis for pain management. MW is Executive Director of the Canadian Consortium for the Investigation of Cannabinoids (CCIC), a non-profit organization dedicated to research and education on cannabinoids.

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Correspondence to M. E. Lynch.

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Lynch, M.E., Ware, M.A. Cannabinoids for the Treatment of Chronic Non-Cancer Pain: An Updated Systematic Review of Randomized Controlled Trials. J Neuroimmune Pharmacol 10, 293–301 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11481-015-9600-6

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Keywords

  • Cannabinoids
  • Chronic non-cancer pain
  • Neuropathic pain
  • Systematic review
  • Marijuana