Pain that lasts for more than three months or beyond what would be considered normal healing time is known as Chronic Pain. Conditions such as migraine, osteoporosis, arthritis and back pain are considered Chronic Pain but it can also include nerve pain, pelvic and abdominal pain, facial pain and ongoing pain after surgery. Acute short-term pain can become Chronic Pain if it is not treated or is poorly treated.
If pain remains untreated for a long time, there is greater risk of the body becoming sensitized to pain and the pain becoming long-term. The psychological effects of Chronic Pain, such as anxiety and depression, can reduce the quality of life of the person with the pain.
Generally medication is used to manage Chronic Pain, depending on the type of pain. Often medication is used together with strategies such as physiotherapy, massage, yoga, psychological therapy, and relaxation techniques. Other treatments such as nerve blocks, steroid injections and surgery may also help alleviate Chronic Pain. Most people benefit from using a combination of treatments and self-management strategies.
Chronic Pain factsheet
Pharmaceutical treatments for Chronic Pain vary in their effectiveness and in some cases have significant side-effects as well as being unsuitable for long term use. Approximately 65% of the prescriptions for medical cannabis in Australia are to treat chronic non-cancer pain. As well as the potential for reducing pain, use of medical cannabis may include benefits such as improved sleep, better quality of life and improved mood. This in turn may contribute to improvements in Chronic Pain.
More effective drug therapy alternatives with fewer side effects are needed for pain relief. Further controlled trials are needed to verify the effectiveness of medical cannabis for pain relief as well to understand its potential side-effects and long-term effects.
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