A new survey by the National Pain Foundation suggests that medical marijuana can outperform currently available drugs for the treatment of fibromyalgia.
The survey, conducted online, asked more than 1,300 patients with chronic pain disorder to evaluate the effectiveness of treatments that have been tested. Medical marijuana compared with only three drugs FDA approved for fibromyalgia: Savella, Lyrica and Cymbalta.
Only 8% of patients who used Cymbalta and 10% did so with Lyrica or Savella found effective in controlling the symptoms of the disorder.
For each of the three drugs, more than 60% of patients reported that “does not help them at all.”
On the other hand, 62% of patients treated with medical marijuana found them to be “very effective”. Another 33% said “helped a little” and only 5% felt that the use of cannabis for fibromyalgia “did not help at all. ”
“I have not found anything that worked for me, other than marijuana,” said one patient in the study. “Nothing but medical marijuana has taken its toll in pain and mental problems,” she wrote another.
Fibromyalgia is a disorder of the central nervous system that affects 2-4% of the population, predominantly women.
In a 2011 study conducted by Spanish researchers, patients who used cannabis showed improvements in pain, stiffness, relaxation and wellness perception.
Cannabis use was associated with beneficial effects on some symptoms of fibromyalgia.
Also, in a survey of 2012 found that 1 in 8 Canadians living with fibromyalgia are based on marijuana to cope with their symptoms.
“We believe there is probably a role for this class of compounds, called cannabinoids.”
“It’s just a matter of working out how this will be put into practice”
A previous study by Dr. Ware and his team found that nabilone, a pill containing the active ingredient in marijuana, THC, may help fibromyalgia sufferers sleep better. Nabilone has also been shown to reduce pain and improve quality of life scores in patients with the disorder.
However, some patients prefer natural cannabis on synthetic versions, knowing they have more powerful side effects.
I have patients with a variety of pain syndromes that have failed all other treatments and for which cannabis herb was the only reasonable option they have to control their symptoms.