Understanding the epidemiology and perceived efficacy of cannabis use in patients with chronic musculoskeletal pain

pubmed logo

“Background: The belief that cannabis has analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties continues to attract patients with chronic musculoskeletal (MSK) pain towards its use. However, the role that cannabis will play in the management of chronic MSK pain remains to be determined. This study examined 1) the rate, patterns of use, and self-reported efficacy of cannabis use among patients with chronic MSK pain and 2) the interest and potential barriers to cannabis use among patients with chronic MSK pain not currently using cannabis.

Methods: Self-reported cannabis use and perceived efficacy were prospectively collected from chronic MSK pain patients presenting to the Orthopaedic Clinic at the University Health Network, Toronto, Canada. The primary dependent variable was current or past use of cannabis to manage chronic MSK pain; bivariate and multivariable logistic regression were used to identify patient characteristics independently associated with this outcome. Secondary outcomes were summarized descriptively, including self-perceived efficacy among cannabis users, and interest as well as barriers to cannabis use among cannabis non-users.

Results: The sample included 629 patients presenting with chronic MSK pain (mean age: 56±15.7 years; 56% female). Overall, 144 (23%) reported past or present cannabis use to manage their MSK pain, with 63.7% perceiving cannabis as very or somewhat effective and 26.6% considering it as slightly effective. The strongest predictor of cannabis use in this study population was a history of recreational cannabis use (OR 12.7, p<0.001). Among cannabis non-users (N=489), 65% expressed interest in using cannabis to manage their chronic MSK pain, but common barriers to use included lack of knowledge regarding access, use and evidence, and stigma.

Conclusions: One in five patients presenting to an orthopaedic surgeon with chronic MSK pain are using or have used cannabis with the specific intent to manage their pain, and most report it to be effective. Among non-users, two-thirds reported an interest in using cannabis to manage their MSK pain, but common barriers to use existed. Future double-blind placebo-controlled trials are required to understand if this reported efficacy is accurate, and what role, if any, cannabis may play in the management of chronic MSK pain.”


“One in five patients presenting to an orthopaedic surgeon with chronic MSK pain are using or have used cannabis with the specific intent to manage their pain, and most report it to be effective. Among non-users, two-thirds reported an interest in using cannabis to manage their MSK pain, but common barriers to use existed. Future double-blind placebo-controlled trials are required to understand if this reported efficacy is accurate, and what role, if any, cannabis may play in the management of chronic MSK pain.”


Δ 9 -Tetrahydrocannabinol alleviates hyperalgesia in a humanized mouse model of sickle cell disease

pubmed logo

“People with sickle cell disease (SCD) often experience chronic pain as well as unpredictable episodes of acute pain, which significantly affect their quality of life and life expectancy. Current treatment strategies for SCD-associated pain primarily rely on opioid analgesics, which have limited efficacy and cause serious adverse effects.

Cannabis has emerged as a potential alternative, yet its efficacy remains uncertain. In this study, we investigated the antinociceptive effects of Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), cannabis’ intoxicating constituent, in male HbSS mice, which express >99% human sickle hemoglobin, and male HbAA mice, which express normal human hemoglobin A, as a control.

Acute THC administration (0.1-3 mg-kg-1, intraperitoneal, i.p.) dose-dependently reduced mechanical and cold hypersensitivity in HbSS, but not HbAA mice. In the tail-flick assay, THC (1 and 3 mg-kg-1, i.p.) produced substantial antinociceptive effects in HbSS mice. By contrast, THC (1 mg-kg-1, i.p.) did not alter anxiety-like behavior (elevated plus maze) or long-term memory (24-h novel object recognition). Subchronic THC treatment (1 and 3 mg-kg-1, i.p.) provided sustained relief of mechanical hypersensitivity but led to tolerance in cold hypersensitivity in HbSS mice.

Together, the findings identify THC as a possible therapeutic option for the management of chronic pain in SCD. Further research is warranted to elucidate its mechanism of action and possible interaction with other cannabis constituents. 

Significance Statement The study explores THC’s efficacy in alleviating pain in sickle cell disease (SCD) using a humanized mouse model. Findings indicate that acute THC administration reduces mechanical and cold hypersensitivity in SCD mice without impacting emotional and cognitive dysfunction. Subchronic THC treatment offers sustained relief of mechanical hypersensitivity but leads to cold hypersensitivity tolerance. These results offer insights into THC’s potential as an alternative pain management option in SCD, highlighting both its benefits and limitations.”



Select Minor Cannabinoids from Cannabis sativa are Cannabimimetic and Antinociceptive in a Mouse Model of Chronic Neuropathic Pain

pubmed logo

“Chronic pain conditions affect nearly 20% of the population in the United States. Current medical interventions, such as opioid drugs, are effective at relieving pain but are accompanied by many undesirable side effects. This is one reason increased numbers of chronic pain patients have been turning to Cannabis for pain management. 

Cannabis contains many bioactive chemical compounds; however, current research looking into lesser-studied minor cannabinoids in Cannabis lacks uniformity between experimental groups and/or excludes female mice from investigation. This makes it challenging to draw conclusions between experiments done with different minor cannabinoid compounds between labs or parse out potential sex differences that could be present.

We chose five minor cannabinoids found in lower quantities within Cannabis: cannabinol (CBN), cannabidivarin (CBDV), cannabigerol (CBG), Δ8-tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ8-THC), and Δ9-tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV). These compounds were then tested for their cannabimimetic and pain-relieving behaviors in a cannabinoid tetrad assay and a chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN) pain model in male and female CD-1 mice.

We found that the minor cannabinoids we tested differed in the cannabimimetic behaviors evoked, as well as the extent. We found that CBN, CBG, and high dose Δ8-THC evoked some tetrad behaviors in both sexes, while THCV and low dose Δ8-THC exhibited cannabimimetic tetrad behaviors only in females. Only CBN efficaciously relieved CIPN pain, which contrasts with reports from other researchers. Together these findings provide further clarity to the pharmacology of minor cannabinoids and suggest further investigation into their mechanism and therapeutic potential. 

Significance Statement Minor cannabinoids are poorly studied ligands present in lower levels in Cannabis than cannabinoids like THC. In this study we evaluated 5 minor cannabinoids (CBN, CBDV, CBG, THCV, and Δ8-THC) for their cannabimimetic and analgesic effects in mice. We found that 4 of the 5 minor cannabinoids showed cannabimimetic activity, while one was efficacious in relieving chronic neuropathic pain. This work is important in further evaluating the activity of these drugs, which are seeing wider public use with marijuana legalization.”



Cannabidiol in the dorsal hippocampus attenuates emotional and cognitive impairments related to neuropathic pain: Role of prelimbic neocortex-hippocampal connections

pubmed logo

“Background and purpose: Chronic neuropathic pain (NP) is commonly associated with cognitive and emotional impairments. Cannabidiol (CBD) presents a broad spectrum of action with a potential analgesic effect. This work investigates the CBD effect on comorbidity between chronic NP, depression, and memory impairment.

Experimental approach: The connection between the neocortex and the hippocampus was investigated with biotinylated dextran amine (BDA) deposits in the prelimbic cortex (PrL). Wistar rats were submitted to chronic constriction injury (CCI) of the sciatic nerve and CA1 treatment with CBD (15, 30, 60 nmol).

Key results: BDA-labeled were found in CA1 and dentate gyrus. CCI-induced mechanical and cold allodynia increased c-Fos protein expression in the PrL and CA1. The number of astrocytes in PrL and CA1 increased, and the number of neuroblasts decreased in CA1. The CCI animals showed increasing depressive-like behaviors, such as memory impairment. CBD (60 nmol) treatment decreased mechanical and cold allodynia, attenuated depressive-associated behaviors, and improved memory performance. Cobalt chloride (CoCl2: 1 nM), WAY-100635 (0.37 nmol), and AM251 (100 nmol) intra-PrL reversed the CBD (60 nmol) effect intra-CA1, both in nociceptive, cognitive, and depressive behaviors.

Conclusion: CBD represents a promising therapeutic perspective in the pharmacological treatment of chronic NP and associated comorbidities such as depression and memory impairments. The CBD effects possibly recruit the CA1-PrL pathway, inducing neuroplasticity. CBD acute treatment into the CA1 produces functional and molecular morphological improvements.”


“Cannabidiol (CBD), in turn, is an essential tool for treating symptoms associated with pain and comorbidities with emotional and cognitive changes.”


The Potential Antinociceptive Effect and Mechanism of Cannabis sativa L. Extract on Paclitaxel-Induced Neuropathic Pain in Rats Uncovered by Multi-Omics Analysis

pubmed logo

“Cannabis sativa L. (hemp) is a herbaceous plant rich in cannabinoids with a long history of use in pain treatment.

The most well-characterized cannabinoids, cannabidiol (CBD) and Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ9-THC), garnered much attention in chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN) treatment. However, few studies have investigated the biological benefits and mechanism of hemp extract on CIPN.

In the present study, hemp extract (JG) rich in cannabinoids was extracted by supercritical fluid carbon dioxide extraction (SFCE). The antinociceptive efficacy was evaluated using a paclitaxel-induced peripheral neuropathy (PIPN) rat model based on behavioral tests. Further omics-based approaches were applied to explore the potential mechanisms.

The results showed that JG decreased mechanical allodynia, thermal hyperalgesia, and inflammatory cytokines in PIPN rats significantly. Transcriptome analysis identified seven key genes significantly regulated by JG in PIPN model rats, mainly related to the neuroactive ligand-receptor interaction pathway, PPAR signaling pathway, and cAMP signaling pathway. In metabolomic analysis, a total of 39 significantly altered metabolites were identified, mainly correlated with pentose and glucuronate interconversions and the glycerophospholipid metabolism pathway.

Gut microbiota analysis suggested that increased community Lachnoclostridium and Lachnospiraceae_UCG-006 in PIPN rats can be reversed significantly by JG.

In conclusion, hemp extract exhibited antinociceptive effects on PIPN. The analgesic mechanism was probably related to the regulation of inflammation, neuroactive ligand-receptor interaction pathway, sphingolipid metabolism, etc. This study provides novel insights into the functional interactions of Cannabis sativa L. extract on PIPN.”


“In conclusion, the antinociceptive effects and mechanism of Cannabis sativa L. extract rich in cannabinoids in PIPN rats were evaluated by using pharmacological methods integrated with transcriptomic analysis, metabolomic analysis, and gut microbiota analysis. 

Cannabis sativa L. extract effectively alleviated neuropathic pain induced by PTX, mainly by the identified 7 key genes, 39 metabolic biomarkers, and 2 bacterial genera.

Related pathways may be involved in the inflammatory response, regulating neuroactive ligand–receptor interaction pathway, PPAR signaling pathway, inflammatory mediator regulation of TRP channels, glycerophospholipid metabolism, pentose and glucuronate interconversions, etc.

Our study provides novel insights into the functional interactions of Cannabis sativa L. extract on PIPN, which offers key information for new strategies in PIPN treatment and provides a reference for the medicinal development of hemp.”


Terpenes from Cannabis sativa induce antinociception in a mouse model of chronic neuropathic pain via activation of adenosine A2A receptors

pubmed logo

“Terpenes are small hydrocarbon compounds that impart aroma and taste to many plants, including Cannabis sativa.

A number of studies have shown that terpenes can produce pain relief in various pain states in both humans and animals. However, these studies were methodologically limited and few established mechanisms of action.

In our previous work, we showed that the terpenes geraniol, linalool, β-pinene, α-humulene, and β-caryophyllene produced cannabimimetic behavioral effects via multiple receptor targets. We thus expanded this work to explore the potential antinociception and mechanism of these Cannabis terpenes in a mouse model of chronic pain.

We first tested for antinociception by injecting terpenes (200 mg/kg, IP) into male and female CD-1 mice with mouse models of chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN) or lipopolysaccharide-induced inflammatory pain, finding that the terpenes produced roughly equal antinociception to 10 mg/kg morphine or 3.2 mg/kg WIN55,212. We further found that none of the terpenes produced reward as measured by conditioned place preference, while low doses of terpene (100 mg/kg) combined with morphine (3.2 mg/kg) produced enhanced antinociception vs either alone. We then used the adenosine A2A receptor (A2AR) selective antagonist istradefylline (3.2 mg/kg, IP) and spinal cord-specific CRISPR knockdown of the A2AR to identify this receptor as the mechanism for terpene antinociception in CIPN. In vitro cAMP and binding studies and in silico modeling studies further suggested that the terpenes act as A2AR agonists.

Together these studies identify Cannabis terpenes as potential therapeutics for chronic neuropathic pain and identify a receptor mechanism for this activity.”



[Topical Use of Cannabis in Inflammatory Diseases in patients of the IPS Salud Social in Barranquilla, Colombia]

pubmed logo

“Objective: To relate the topical use of cannabis as an analgesic therapeutic alternative in patients with some inflammatory diseases in Salud Social I.P.S during May to July 2023.

Methods: An analytical, retrospective study was carried out. The population from which the sample was obtained corresponds to patients diagnosed with Arthrosis, Unspecified, Non-Toxic Multinodular Goiter, Epilepsy, Unspecified Type Venous Insufficiency (Chronic) (Peripheral), Unspecified Lumbago, Secondary Gonarthrosis, Rotator Cuff Syndrome, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, in Salud Social I.P.S of Barranquilla, Atlántico. A sample of 23 patients diagnosed with these pathologies was obtained by non-probabilistic convenience sampling.

Results: All patients showed pain relief after two months of follow-up, two experienced adverse effects. Some studies suggest that cannabinoids present in cannabis, such as CBD and THC, may have analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties that could alleviate pain and inflammation associated with these conditions. This is consistent with the present study.

Conclusion: Topical cannabis is presented as a therapeutic alternative in inflammatory diseases, however, it is important to highlight that research on the use of cannabis in these diseases is limited and more studies are needed to fully understand its effects and potential benefits.”



Cannabis oil extracts for chronic pain: what else can be learned from another structured prospective cohort?

pubmed logo

“Introduction: The use of medicinal cannabis for managing pain expands, although its efficacy and safety have not been fully established through randomized controlled trials.

Objectives: This structured, prospective questionnaire-based cohort was aimed to assess long-term effectiveness and safety of cannabis oil extracts in patients with chronic pain.

Methods: Adult Israeli patients licensed to use cannabis oil extracts for chronic pain were followed prospectively for 6 months. The primary outcome measure was change from baseline in average weekly pain intensity, and secondary outcomes were changes in related symptoms and quality of life, recorded before treatment initiation and 1, 3, and 6 months thereafter. Generalized linear mixed model was used to analyze changes over time. In addition, “responders” (≥30% reduction in weekly pain at any time point) were identified.

Results: The study included 218 patients at baseline, and 188, 154, and 131 at 1, 3, and 6 months, respectively. At 6 months, the mean daily doses of cannabidiol and Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol were 22.4 ± 24.0 mg and 20.8 ± 30.1 mg, respectively. Pain decreased from 7.9 ± 1.7 at baseline to 6.6 ± 2.2 at 6 months (F(3,450) = 26.22, P < 0.0001). Most secondary parameters also significantly improved. Of the 218 participants, 24% were “responders” but could not be identified by baseline parameters. “Responders” exhibited higher improvement in secondary outcomes. Adverse events were common but mostly nonserious.

Conclusion: This prospective cohort demonstrated a modest overall long-term improvement in chronic pain and related symptoms and a reasonable safety profile with the use of relatively low doses of individually titrated Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabidiol.”


“In conclusion, this structured, prospective cohort study demonstrated modest improvements in pain, associated symptoms, functioning, and quality of life, and a reduction in opioid use. The reduction in “disease burden” was more pronounced in nearly a quarter of the patients, but no predictors for treatment success could be identified before treatment initiation. The doses of THC and CBD in the oil extracts were modest and considerably lower than those required to achieve similar magnitude of effect by cannabis inflorescence. Although medical cannabis treatment appears to be generally safe for most patients, some still experience SAEs.”


Natural Products Derived from Cannabis sativa for Pain Management

pubmed logo

“Cannabis sativa is one of the oldest medicinal plants in human history. Even ancient physicians from hundreds of years ago used Cannabis sativa to treat several conditions like pain.

In the modern era, the research community, including health-care providers, have witnessed wide-scale changes in cannabis policy, legislation, and marketing, with a parallel increase in patient interest. A simple search in PubMed using “cannabis and pain” as keywords provides more than 2,400 articles, about 80% of which were published in the last 8-10 years. Several advancements have been achieved in understanding the complex chemistry of cannabis along with its multiple pharmacological activities.

Preclinical data have demonstrated evidence for the promising potential of cannabis for pain management, and the continuous rise in the prevalence of pain increases the urgency to translate this into clinical practice. Despite the large body of cannabis literature, researchers still need to find rigorous answers for the questions about the efficacy and safety of cannabis in treatment of certain disorders such as pain. In the current chapter, we seek to present a critical overview about the current knowledge on cannabis with special emphasis on pain-related disorders.”



Cannabidiol Alleviates Chronic Prostatitis and Chronic Pelvic Pain Syndrome via CB2 Receptor Activation and TRPV1 Desensitization

pubmed logo

“Purpose: This study elucidates the mechanism of the physiological effect of cannabidiol (CBD) by assessing its impact on lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-induced inflammation in RWPE-1 cells and prostatitis-induced by 17β-estradiol and dihydrotestosterone in a rat model, focusing on its therapeutic potential for chronic prostatitis/chronic pelvic pain syndrome (CP/CPPS).

Materials and methods: RWPE-1 cells were stratified in vitro into three groups: (1) controls, (2) cells with LPS-induced inflammation, and (3) cells with LPS-induced inflammation and treated with CBD. Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays and western blots were performed on cellular components and supernatants after administration of CBD. Five groups of six Sprague-Dawley male rats were assigned: (1) control, (2) CP/CPPS, (3) CP/CPPS and treated with 50 mg/kg CBD, (4) CP/CPPS and treated with 100 mg/kg CBD, and (5) CP/CPPS and treated with 150 mg/kg CBD. Prostatitis was induced through administration of 17β-estradiol and dihydrotestosterone. After four weeks of CBD treatment, a pain index was evaluated, and prostate tissue was collected for subsequent histologic examination and western blot analysis.

Results: CBD demonstrated efficacy in vivo for CP/CPPS and in vitro for inflammation. It inhibited the toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4)/nuclear factor-kappa B (NF-κB) pathway by activating the CB2 receptor, reducing expression of interleukin-6, tumor necrosis factor-alpha, and cyclooxygenase-2 (COX2) (p<0.01). CBD exhibited analgesic effects by activating and desensitizing the TRPV1 receptor.

Conclusions: CBD inhibits the TLR4/NF-κB pathway by activating the CB2 receptor, desensitizes the TRPV1 receptor, and decreases the release of COX2. This results in relief of inflammation and pain in patients with CP/CPPS, indicating CBD as a potential treatment for CP/CPPS.”