Does cannabis help pain management?

Executive summary

* A systematic review (find all evidence) and meta-analysis (pool it together) has been done to try to answer the question: does cannabis help pain management?

* The researchers found 32 trials, which were relevant to this research question. The trials involved 5,174 adults with chronic pain who had been randomised to either medical cannabis or placebo for between one and five and a half months. Outcomes of interest were pain, sleep quality and general functioning. Cognitive and physical adverse effects were reported.

* This note explains the standard scales used to measure and compare factors such as pain, sleep, emotional wellbeing etc and what counts as a meaningful improvement.

* There were industry conflicts with the trials and some of the paper authors. Had the claims been strident, the conflicts may have been of concern, but the claims were modest.

* Small improvements in some outcomes were reported, alongside small increased risks of adverse events.

 

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