What is chronic pain?

Chronic pain is a complex condition that unfortunately affects many people in Australia.  Chronic pain usually begins after an injury or event.  Over time, whilst some people’s bodies recover from this initial problem, some others develop and change into chronic pain.  

Chronic pain is a long-standing acute condition that is inadequate. Tissues involved in chronic inflammation, for example, can be distinguished microscopically from those with acute inflammation by changes of regeneration and repair. 

Chronic pain is not a symptom of an illness. It is an illness. It has its own symptoms, signs and complications.  

How is chronic pain treated?  

Chronic pain can be very difficult to treat, and usually involves seeing many different medical professionals who can help you with different aspects of your condition. Many times, patients suffering from chronic pain will require ongoing support in the long term. The goal is often about managing this pain successfully over time rather than looking for a cure and is similar to the management of other chronic conditions. 

As a part of the complete holistic approach managing chronic pain (which usually involves frequent reviews with doctors and allied health professionals), the use of painkillers, or analgesia, also usually form a part of the treatment process but acupuncture and massage treatment is also common 

Whilst there are many types of painkillers, including ones that you can find over the counter (like paracetamol or ibuprofen) to very strong ones (such as opioids such as oxycodone), many of them can themselves cause side effects and problems for patients. 

Does cannabis and/or CBD oil work for chronic pain?  How effective is cannabis and/or CBD oil for chronic pain? 

There are a lot of individual stories that cannabis can be effective for treating pain – but how effective is it for the majority of people? 

The short answer is that it depends on many factors:  it seems to work very well for some, but it isn’t a cure-all and doesn’t work for everyone. The data from the TGA suggest over 80% of patients accessing medicial cannabis treatment are doing so with chronic pain being their primary diagnosis / reason. 

Various studies have looked at the use of different forms of cannabis (THC, CBD, combinations of both, and whole flower) in different types of chronic pain (such as that from nerve, joint, inflammatory, cancer, musculoskeletal).  Overall, the results are mixed, showing a moderate benefit for many combinations (but not all). 

One advantage of cannabinoids is that, unlike opioids (a common form of potent pain killer), they seem to have a safer side effect profile.  In situations where too much is taken, opioids are known to cause a person to stop breathing.  The same does not happen with cannabinoids.  Whilst cannabis oil can cause side effects like with any other medication, these generally tend to be mild and can go away by themselves over time. 

Clinical research papers on Chronic Pain can be found here;