According to several scientific studies, people who use medical cannabis for pain management can expect a higher quality of life. The most recent of these appeared earlier this month in the journal Medical Cannabis and Cannabinoids and contains some interesting findings.
Medical Cannabis, Pain Management And Quality Of Life
The relationship between physical pain and quality of life is obvious, with an increase in the former inevitably leading to a decrease in the latter. Medical cannabis is highly effective at relieving various types of pain, giving rise to the theory that those who use it may enjoy a higher quality of life.
This hypothesis can only be confirmed by conducting large-scale clinical studies, and the mounting scientific evidence is now beginning to paint a more concrete picture. The new research, for example, involved 181 adult pain patients, all of whom were enrolled in the Pennsylvania medical marijuana programme.
The study authors sought to evaluate the effect of medical cannabis on health-related quality of life. To do so, they assessed participants’ well-being at four different time points during their first eight weeks on the programme.
Between the second and eighth weeks, the number of patients who described themselves as being in extreme pain fell from six percent to one percent. Meanwhile, the proportion of pain-free participants rose from 20 percent to 32 percent.
Over the same timeframe, the number of individuals suffering from severe anxiety or depression decreased from 26 percent to 13 percent. In comparison, the number who described themselves as not anxious or depressed rose from 49 percent to 55 percent.
According to the researchers, participants using medical cannabis “had a significant improvement in both pain scores and health-related quality of life.” An overall enhancement of physical and emotional well-being was the main driver of this improvement in life satisfaction.
Research Highlights Effect Of Medical Cannabis On Quality Of Life
Several other studies have helped to illuminate the positive effects of medical cannabis on quality of life. Research published in 2016, for instance, found that pain severity fell from 75 percent to 62.5 percent in participants using cannabis for pain management over six months.
Consequently, patients reported a significant decrease in the extent to which their painful symptoms interfered with their lives. This led to a marked reduction in “social and emotional disability” and allowed participants to reduce their use of opioid painkillers by 44 percent. Based on these findings, it’s easy to see how medical cannabis improves the quality of life of pain patients.
Another study from 2020 followed 751 chronic pain sufferers for an entire year[iii]. Reductions in pain severity and life interference were observed after one month of medical cannabis use and were sustained for the 12-month study period. Improvements in physical and mental health, meanwhile, became noticeable after three months.
“Significant decreases in headaches, fatigue, anxiety, and nausea were observed after initiation of [medical cannabis] treatment,” write the study authors. More studies like these are needed to fill in the gaps in our current understanding. However, the research carried out so far leaves little doubt that medical cannabis generates considerable improvements in quality of life.