A new study has found that cannabis is safe and effective for the treatment of chronic pain that occurs in people with sickle cell disease. The analgesic effect of cannabis has been long investigated for a number of painful conditions including arthritis and nerve pain syndromes; however, this study is the first to addressed concerns about its use in managing pain syndromes in sickle cell disease using a clinical trial.
Opioid medications have been the mainstay of treatment of chronic and acute pain in sickle cell crises. But as opioid-associated deaths began to rise, the options for analgesic treatment in these patients have become narrower.
This study experimented with vaporized cannabis in 33 patients with sickle cell disease. The participants inhaled vaporized cannabis or a vaporized placebo when they experienced pain. The patients received the drug in a two five-day inpatient sessions with a 30-day interval between. At the end of the trial, the researchers found that the participants who used vaporized cannabis reported that the pain interfered less and less with daily routine. The study team used vaporized cannabis because it delivers lower amounts of the drug to the body’s circulation than other forms of the drug.