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Cannabinoids not very effective for chronic non-cancer pain

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Review of: Stockings E, et al. Cannabis and cannabinoids for the treatment of people with chronic noncancer pain conditions: a systematic review and meta-analysis of controlled and observational studies. Pain 2018;159:1932–54.

Key learning points

  • There has been increasing interest in the use of cannabis and cannabinoids for the treatment of chronic pain.

  • This review analysed outcomes based on cannabinoid type and specific chronic non-cancer pain conditions.

  • Compared with placebo, the clinical impact of cannabinoids on chronic pain was slight and adverse effects were common.

The authors of a systematic review and meta-analysis concluded that cannabinoids are unlikely to be highly effective medicines for chronic non-cancer pain.1


This systematic review and meta-analysis included 104 studies (47 randomised controlled trials [RCTs]), involving a total of 9958 participants (median age 42 years), that compared cannabinoids with placebo or active comparator for the treatment of chronic non-cancer-related pain (CNCP).1 The studies included neuropathic pain, fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis and …

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  • Contributors DTB Team.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; Internally peer reviewed.