The Arthritis Society has announced the recipient of another medical cannabis research grant, this one involving the use of oral cannabinoids in the management of fibromyalgia.
Fibromyalgia is an incurable, chronic condition that causes pain in the muscles and bones, poor sleep and fatigue; plus a variety of other symptoms that can vary patient to patient. It’s a significant issue – according to the Australian Government, it affects around 2-5% of the population. The condition occurs predominantly in young to middle-aged women.
In Canada, an estimated 520,000 people suffer from fibromyalgia.
The cause of fibromyalgia is not thoroughly understood; but it is thought to originate with issues in the brain. Usual painkillers don’t seem to have any effect, but anti-depressants are sometimes prescribed – which present their own issues. Opioids are administered in some cases, further contributing to what’s been called an “opioid epidemic” in North America.
The Arthritis Society says patients have reported pain and symptom management through the use of cannabis; but its efficacy in managing fibromyalgia is yet to be proven in large-scale clinical trials.
The research grant, awarded to McGill University’s Dr. Mark Ware, will go towards a study that will be used to help educate patients and health professionals in the potential risks and benefits of using oral forms of cannabis in fibromyalgia therapy.
“Opioids and NSAIDs for pain management are often ineffective for fibromyalgia pain, or can have serious negative side effects – especially when used for prolonged periods,” said Dr Ware.
“We hope to identify whether oral cannabinoids can offer the person with fibromyalgia hope for relief from their symptoms, and help restore their quality of life.”
The Arthritis Society has been very proactive with regard to the potential of medicinal marijuana; this being the second research project it has funded in the past 18 months. It’s quite a contrast to the Australian Rheumatology Association’s attitude, which recently stated it does not support the use of medical cannabis in the treatment of musculoskeletal conditions.
The Arthritis Society says it is doing its bit in supporting medical cannabis research, but that ” we can’t do it alone”. It has called on the Canadian government to stump up CAD $25 million in the nation’s 2017 federal budget to fund research over 5 years.
For the amount of good that money could do, $25 million seems like pocket change.