In a nationwide survey of cannabis-based therapy use among Americans with multiple sclerosis (MS), almost half of respondents endorsed such products, primarily for nerve-based pain and sleep disturbances, and the perceived benefits for sleep and pain were highly correlated.
The reported scores for perceived pain were generally worse among recent or current cannabis users, the results showed.
These findings identified gaps between community and clinical use and illustrated the need for studies that investigate the impact of cannabis therapies for chronic MS symptoms.
The survey results were described in the study, “Cannabinoid use among Americans with MS: Current trends and gaps in knowledge,” published in the Multiple Sclerosis Journal – Experimental, Translational and Clinical.
Chronic pain commonly affects people with MS and is frequently associated with sleep disturbances and fatigue. Given the lack of treatment options for these symptoms, there is a growing use of cannabis among people with MS.
Despite increasing public support for the clinical use of cannabis-based treatments, evidence supporting its benefits to treat pain and sleep disturbances is scarce, as are specific guidelines on its use in patients with different symptoms and co-conditions.
Studies are therefore needed to investigate the benefits and harms of cannabis-based therapies in various neurological conditions, according to researchers. Data including real-world MS patient experiences, and national estimates of cannabis use and its perceived benefits and side effects, may help guide clinical practice and much-needed research, investigators say.
Thus, a team from the University of Michigan assessed the prevalence of cannabinoid use among MS patients in the U.S., exploring the therapy’s impact on healthcare provider guidance, and investigating the association between cannabis use and nerve-based (neuropathic) pain and sleep disturbances.
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