There have been some exciting developments when it comes to research and knowledge on the implications of cannabis and pain tolerance. A study that has been conducted by the University of British Columbia Okanagan campus has shown that cannabis use, unlike opiate use which is what is commonly used for pain, does not make pain sensitivity worse in the way that opiates do.

There has been an increased interest in the use of medicinal cannabis for some time now. With a lot of information floating around about medical cannabis being used for many different diseases and treatments, pain management is one of the top priorities for cannabis use and the issue people use it for most. This new study is important because it means that using cannabis for pain management could be consistent and more widespread. This also means that patients won’t need increased amounts of cannabis to alleviate the same levels of pain, as they might when it comes to using standard opiates. 

Recent years have seen an increase in the adoption of cannabinoid medicines, which have demonstrated effectiveness for the treatment of chronic pain,” said Michelle St. Pierre, one of the researchers who worked on the study. “However, the extent to which frequent cannabis use influences sensitivity to acute pain has not been systematically examined.

This study should come as good news to patients who are already using cannabis to treat pain,” added co-author Zach Walsh, head of the UBC Therapeutic Recreational and Problematic Substance Use Lab, the group that specifically conducted the study. “Increases in pain sensitivity with opioids can really complicate an already tough situation; given increasing uptake of cannabis-based pain medications it’s a relief that we didn’t identify a similar pattern with cannabinoids.

Opiates are currently the go-to prescribed items for pain and dependence on opiates is a major issue. More patients will find that the sensitivity to pain is increased, and therefore, you need more prescribed opiates to feel the original relief of pain. The more you have, the more reliant you become on using them, and therefore it can lead to other issues such as pain medication addiction, which is a rising problem in the United States.

There is a different effect from opioid users; sustained use of opioids can make people more reactive to pain. We wanted to determine if there was a similar trend for people who use cannabis frequently,” said St. Pierre. “Cannabis and opioids share some of the same pain-relief pathways and have both been associated with increases in pain sensitivity following acute use.

Our results suggest frequent cannabis use did not seem to be associated with elevated sensitivity to experimental pain in a manner that can occur in opioid therapy,” St. Pierre concluded. “This is an important distinction that care providers and patients should consider when selecting options for pain management.” 

This is an exciting time for people who are already advocates of the use of cannabis as a pain management tool. Hopefully, there will be more research into this as more people become interested in the medical benefits that cannabis could offer.
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