If all of the Canadians suffering from fibromyalgia were to create their own city, it’d be the 4th largest in the country. Fewer folks than Calgary, but more than in Ottawa.
For those unfamiliar, fibromyalgia is a pain disorder. Those suffering feel widespread musculoskeletal pain and can experience symptoms of fatigue, sleep, memory and mood issues. The cause of fibromyalgia is still unknown. For some, it’s related to recovery from physical trauma. For others, there doesn’t seem to be a specific event but a slow onset of symptoms. There is no cure, and patients suffering from the disorder have a variety of medications or treatments presented to them to control symptoms. If you know somebody suffering from fibromyalgia, you know that pain management will be a battle they will fight for the rest of their lives. But that doesn’t mean it’s a battle they will lose!
Less than half of those suffering from fibromyalgia find any benefit from available medication, which is why many are encouraged to try medical cannabis to treat their symptoms. And medical research communities continue to discover more about the relationship between medical cannabis and fibromyalgia treatment every day. A National Pain Foundation Survey from 2014 found medical cannabis to be a more effective treatment of fibromyalgia than any of the three prescription drugs approved by the FDA. A randomized, double-blind placebo test using nabilone, a synthetic cannabinoid, on those suffering from fibromyalgia also showed positive results: it improved symptoms and was “well-tolerated” by the test group. Another study on a different synthetic cannabinoid showed significant reduction in pain with no major adverse effects (except dry mouth… what can you do?).
This isn’t to suggest cannabis will be a magic fix, but could be an appropriate addition to your medical routine. This study from 2011 – specific to medical cannabis use for patients of fibromyalgia – acts as a good example:
“Patients used cannabis not only to alleviate pain but for almost all the symptoms associated to FM, and no one reported worsening of symptoms following cannabis use. The proportion of patients who reported strong relief ranged from 81% for sleep disorders to 14% for headache.”
The efficacy of cannabis on a number of symptoms was varied, however, no patients reported any worsening symptoms. The symptoms most regularly improved were pain, sleep disturbances, stiffness, mood, and anxiety. For anybody that has experienced chronic, long-term pain, they know the lessening of these symptoms goes a long way to improve quality of life. 81% noted improved sleep. We all know how important getting that rest is – and how difficult a sleepless night can be physically and mentally.
Medicinal cannabis studies specific to fibromyalgia have only been meaningfully taking place for a decade. It will take years more to build up the quality of research necessary for our healthcare system to adapt to these emerging trends in cannabis treatment for fibromyalgia symptoms. If you are living in pain right now – today – you shouldn’t have to wait.