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Can cannabis be the solution for chronic pain?



Key Points:

  • CBD as a Potential Treatment: Cannabidiol (CBD), a non-intoxicating component of cannabis, is being explored as a potential treatment for neuropathic pain following spinal cord injuries. Anecdotal reports suggest its efficacy, but further clinical studies are needed for concrete dosing guidance.

  • The SCAN Trial: The Spinal Cord And Neuropathic Pain (SCAN) trial, conducted by the University of Sydney in partnership with the Lambert Initiative for Cannabinoid Therapeutics, aims to investigate the safety and effectiveness of CBD in reducing neuropathic pain. Advanced brain imaging techniques are used to understand brain changes contributing to this pain and identify biomarkers for personalised pain management.

  • Potential Impact and Future of Pain Management: Success in the SCAN trial could revolutionise neuropathic pain management, potentially leading to policy changes regarding the prescription of medicinal cannabis. This trial could also encourage further research into the benefits of CBD for various neuropathic pain conditions, providing hope for improved pain relief and management.


Chronic pain is a pressing issue for individuals grappling with spinal cord injuries, affecting 80% of this population. One form of persistent pain is neuropathic pain, resulting from spinal cord damage and often described as stabbing, burning, or tingling sensations. The impact of neuropathic pain on individuals' lives is profound, making the quest for effective treatments crucial. In a pioneering initiative, the University of Sydney has embarked on a world-first trial to explore the potential of cannabidiol (CBD), a non-intoxicating component of cannabis, as a treatment for neuropathic pain following spinal cord injuries. HCPA provides crucial insights and guidance, ensuring individuals have the necessary information and support to contribute to innovative trials like SCAN.


The Painful Reality

Individuals with spinal cord injuries face a significant challenge in managing chronic pain. The existing treatment options are limited and can sometimes worsen the condition due to significant side effects. Neuropathic pain remains a complex aspect of spinal cord injuries, demanding innovative solutions and research to improve the quality of life for those affected.


Cannabis as a Potential Solution

Anecdotal reports suggest that cannabis and its derivatives may relieve neuropathic pain. However, a comprehensive understanding of how cannabis alleviates pain is still elusive. Professor Iain McGregor, a study co-investigator, highlights the need for clinical studies to provide concrete dosing guidance for doctors and patients.


Introducing the SCAN Trial

The Spinal Cord And Neuropathic pain (SCAN) trial, conducted in partnership with the Lambert Initiative for Cannabinoid Therapeutics, seeks to investigate the safety and effectiveness of CBD in reducing neuropathic pain among individuals with spinal cord injuries. The study uses advanced brain imaging techniques to unravel the specific brain changes contributing to neuropathic pain post-spinal cord injury. Additionally, the trial endeavours to identify a biomarker that predicts individual responses to CBD treatment, facilitating personalised approaches to pain management. HCPA can provide information about how individuals can participate in the SCAN trial and what support is available.


A Glimpse into the Trial

The SCAN trial, a pioneering endeavour in Sydney's Neuroscience Research Australia (NeuRA), will randomly allow participants to experience both CBD and a placebo over six weeks. Participants will monitor their pain levels and sleep patterns during each treatment phase. Before and after each treatment period, comprehensive brain scans, questionnaires, and blood collection will be carried out to gauge the effects of CBD on neuropathic pain.


Shaping the Future of Pain Management

Success in the SCAN trial could revolutionise neuropathic pain management following spinal cord injuries. It may inform policy changes regarding the prescription of medicinal cannabis, ensuring better access and treatment for patients. Furthermore, this trial could pave the way for extensive research into the potential benefits of CBD for various neuropathic pain conditions, which are often under-treated and poorly understood. HCPA is committed to supporting research initiatives like SCAN, advocating for advancements in pain management, and ensuring individuals have the information they need to be part of such transformative trials.


Conclusion

The SCAN trial stands at the forefront of groundbreaking research, offering hope to individuals grappling with neuropathic pain after spinal cord injuries. The potential for CBD to alleviate this chronic pain could be a game-changer, vastly improving the quality of life for countless individuals. As research advances, supporting and investing in studies like SCAN is imperative to open new doors for effective and accessible pain management. For those interested in being part of this transformative journey in medical science, the opportunity awaits—a chance to be a part of a new chapter in pain management and relief.



HCPA is an all-in-one solution for Medicinal Cannabis providers, supporting them with registration, growth and consulting. Contact us here or call 03 9084 7472 to learn how we can help you succeed.

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