Can Cannabis Help Control Fibromyalgia Pain?
The condition impacts about four million people in the U.S. alone. Cannabis may offer relief.
Most people know fibromyalgia as a health condition that can cause pain all over the body. That's true, but it also can lead to other issues, such as lack of sleep, chronic fatigue, and emotional and mental health issues.
Fibromyalgia patients (at least four million of them in the United States) always search for treatments that can help combat the pain and reduce the risk of these other issues. They may have found something in medical marijuana.
A new study published in the journal Pain Medicine reports that fibromyalgia patients who used cannabis oil had lower (i.e., better) scores on a Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire (FIQ) given before, during, and after an eight-week study period.
The study concluded that THC-rich cannabis oil "can be a low-cost and well-tolerated therapy to reduce symptoms and increase the quality of life of patients with fibromyalgia."
The findings mirror a previous study from Israel that found patients experienced less pain over six months when they used cannabis as a treatment.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people with fibromyalgia suffer from many different symptoms. In addition to pain, fatigue, and mental health issues, they also must deal with what is known as abnormal pain perception processing, which refers to a condition where those with fibromyalgia become more sensitive to pain than those who do not have fibromyalgia.
Other symptoms include:
- Body pain and stiffness
- Fatigue and tiredness
- Difficulty with thinking, memory, and concentration
- Headaches and migraines
The study involved a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial that lasted eight weeks. All the test subjects were women in Brazil who had fibromyalgia. One control group received a placebo, while another received THC-rich cannabis oil.
Those who used cannabis oil scored better on the FIQ in several categories. They included "feeling good," the ability to do work, and reduced pain and fatigue. Researchers also reported that there were "no intolerable adverse effects."
Treating pain has emerged as one of the primary reasons people use medical marijuana. Advocates have espoused the benefits for years. But recently, science has started to catch up and generally back those claims.
For example, a 2020 study from Canada found that patients experienced significant pain relief using medical marijuana. Many also quit using potentially dangerous opioids to combat pain once they started to use cannabis.
Overall, plant medicine has emerged as an alternative to prescription drugs when it comes to pain management. That's a significant shift, as chronic pain impacts as much as one-third of the U.S. population.