Cannabinoids in the management of chronic pain: a front line clinical perspective.



Chronic pain is an escalating public health problem. Currently available treatments are inadequate to control chronic pain conditions, and there is a critical need for novel treatments. Over a half century of elegant preclinical research has identified the presence of a sophisticated endocannabinoid system that is part of our natural pain and immune defense network. Convergent work has supported the significant potential to exploit this system to decrease pain and inflammation. Although the clinical research remains in its infancy, recent systematic reviews have found that 25 of 30 randomized controlled trials have demonstrated a significant analgesic effect. The authors concluded that cannabinoids currently available for clinical use demonstrate a modest analgesic effect and are safe for the management of chronic pain. There is a critical need for more translational research so that the excellent work of Dr. Itai Bab and our basic science colleagues around the world can move forward in providing novel cannabinoid-based medicines. This should include more potent analgesics that are limited in side effects with several routes of delivery. Our patients deserve additional agents for pain control with a novel mechanism of action, and cannabinoids are the new frontier.

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