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Cannabis Use In Young Adults With Chronic Pain

More than one in five young adults who experience chronic pain say they use cannabis and/or CBD oil to manage it according to a recent survey.

The Harris Poll survey, carried out on behalf of the Samueli Foundation, found 65% of young American adults aged 18-34 report experiencing chronic pain. That’s significantly higher than in older adults (52%).

The most common forms of pain reported by young adults were back-related (32%), neck and knees (20% each)

Younger adults are also more likely to use cannabis and/or CBD oil for managing that page – 22% vs 11%.

Wayne Jonas, MD, executive director of Integrative Health Programs at Samueli Foundation, says while there’s evidence medical cannabis is useful for treating pain associated with some conditions, it’s lacking when it comes to using cannabis for common chronic conditions.

“Instead, young people should be working with their physicians to first try non-drug treatments that are recommended by the medical community, such as massage therapy, yoga, physical therapy, and exercise.”

Dr. Jonas is an expert in integrative health and health care delivery, which is the pursuit of personal health and well-being foremost, while addressing disease as needed.

The survey found 78% of adults (assumed: all ages) with chronic pain use non-drug treatments, while 70% use pharmacological treatments. The most common approaches to managing pain were pain relievers (53%), which isn’t surprising – but this was followed by exercise at 43%, which is interesting. Cannabis/CBD came in number five (16%) after heat/ice (34%) and healthy eating (26%).

79% of Americans with chronic pain say they wish it was taken more seriously by health care providers, and 68% want more information from these providers on the issue – results Dr. Jonas says are a wake-up to physicians.

Just on the use of CBD for pain – there is some research suggesting cannabidiol reduces inflammation through its interaction with the body’s endocannabinoid receptors, but further human studies are required to substantiate the claim. A 2020 review by researchers from University of California, Irvine noted CBD could have benefits for relieving chronic pain, but this positive effect appeared specific to certain conditions.

Basically, the scientific jury is still well and truly out on the topic.

Steven Gothrinet
Steven Gothrinet has been part of the Hemp Gazette in-house reporting team since 2015. Steven's broad interest in cannabis was initially fueled by the realisation of industrial hemp's versatility across multiple sectors. You can contact Steve here.

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