NZ’s only nationwide medicinal cannabis service provider with clinics in Auckland, Tauranga, Nelson, Wellington, Christchurch, Dunedin & Queenstown.

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Chronic Pain

What is Chronic Pain?

Physical pain is experienced by most of us at various stages throughout our lives. It is the nervous system passing on messages to the brain in reaction to trauma on, or in the body. It is a normal bodily function. Acute pain doesn’t last long and disappears completely once the body has healed from its injury.
Chronic pain though is different, as clinically it lasts more than 3 months. The pain may be constant, or can come and go intermittently with varying degrees of severity. It continues long after recovery from injury or illness.

Neuropathic pain can occur if a nervous system is damaged or not working correctly, with damaged nerve fibres sending incorrect signals to the brain. Neuropathic pain can often manifest as chronic pain and vice versa.

About 25% of people with chronic pain will continue to have a condition called chronic pain syndrome (CPS). This occurs when pain symptoms interfere with daily life and can lead to mental disorders such as depression and anxiety, whilst also interrupting sleep quality. What makes these conditions even more stressful is that they sometimes occur for no obvious reason.
What causes chronic pain?
Chronic pain is usually caused by an initial injury, such as a back sprain or pulled muscle. It can also include illnesses, musculoskeletal problems, injury, surgery and cancer.

Chronic pain can be widespread and can take many different forms. Sources of the pain can include, but are not limited to:

-Fibromyalgia, widespread pain in bones & muscle
-Arthritis or joint pain
-Headaches, including severe migraines
-Chronic pain caused by scar tissue
-Post-surgical pain
-Pain in various parts of the body, such as your neck and lower back
-Localised chronic pain caused by cancerous tumours
-Orchialgia (testicular pain)
What causes neuropathic pain?
Neuropathic pain can develop post-injury due to nerve damage and complications experienced during recovery.

Neuropathic pain can be chronic; it can also present differently from other forms of chronic pain. Sources of the pain can include, but are not limited to, diseases such as:

-Chronic fatigue syndrome
-IBS and other gastrointestinal issues
-Facial nerve problems
-Central nervous system disorders such as Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis
-HIV infection or AIDS
-Complex regional pain syndrome

Other sources may include:

-Nerve compression or infiltration by tumours
-Vulvodynia, a pain that affects the vulva, occurring with no obvious cause
-Phantom pain caused by amputation
-Pain caused by radiation therapy and other chemotherapy drugs
-Spinal nerve compression or inflammation
-Nerve damage caused by trauma or surgeries
How common are these pain disorders?
According to the Cleveland clinic, chronic pain disorders are one of the leading reasons for people to seek medical help, with approximately 25% of adult Americans experiencing chronic pain at some point during their lives. Similar levels have been observed in Europe and New Zealand, but there is an argument that this statistic could be skewed due to underreporting.

Studies have shown that the presence of co-morbidities has led to the under reporting of chronic pain, especially in elderly populations. These reported and real numbers are expected to rise globally as our population ages.

What the research shows

Centuries of anecdotal evidence is being constantly supported by new scientific research and clinical studies. Chronic pain is complex however, often occurring without an obvious cause. For this reason, it can be difficult for scientists to conclusively claim that medicinal cannabis or cannabis-based products are helpful for managing pain.

Despite this complication, extensive research has shown that medicinal cannabis can help to reduce and manage pain by altering pain perception pathways in the brain. Cannabinoids help to inhibit and stimulate the endocannabinoid system, which is an essential system for maintaining homeostasis or balance within the body.

Early research has also shown that terpenes, found within medicinal cannabis, activate the body’s CB1 and CB2 receptors which form part of the endocannabinoid system and influence pain perception. CB1 is involved in analgesic pathways while CB2 receptors are expressed in immune-related tissues and the central nervous system.

These terpenes, such as umulene, geraniol, linalool, and β-pinene may mimic cannabinoids by alleviating chronic pain symptoms. A 2021 study combining terpenes with cannabinoids revealed that pain-relieving effects were amplified without an increase in negative side effects.

Talk to CannaPlus+ today

At CannaPlus+, we’re committed to bringing the highest level of medical care to provide comprehensive treatment plans, with patient care at the centre of every action we take.

Medicinal Cannabis may be an alternative or adjunct medication for managing some ailments.

In the first instance, it’s important to research what the alternatives are and to talk to a health care professional. 

How CannaPlus+ can help – if you would like to book a consultation with one of our Doctors to see if Medicinal Cannabis may be appropriate for you. Our dedicated team of doctors will see if you are eligible for a script and create your plan in based on your health goals. Click here to find out more and book a consultation.