In a preliminary study on the effects of medical marijuana on pain symptoms, researchers in Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey, are finding that medical marijuana has a profound impact on the pain symptoms of those suffering from deadly and chronic diseases.
Using the Wong-Baker FACES Pain Rating Scale, researchers asked 145 patients of the Compassionate Care Foundation dispensary to rate their pain at the start of the study and at different increments over time since using medical marijuana.
The results so far have been “absolutely dramatic,” according to Suzanne Miller, a researcher with a Ph.D. who sits on the dispensary’s board of trustees. She spoke with the Philadelphia Inquirer about the results and said that 80 percent of patients who had completed the rankings at least twice in the past two months have shown significant improvement in their pain symptoms.
Most patients have shown a decrease in 30 to 50 percent of their pain levels. That is dramatic, according to Miller.
“You usually see smaller results, about 10 percent, or 20 percent,” she said.
An author of four books, contributor to more than 100 academic articles, professor and the director of behavioral medicine at Fox Chase Cancer Center, Miller plans to gather more data as she and her team prepare to submit the findings for publication later this fall.
The Wong-Baker FACES Pain Rating Scale uses a row of faces to help individuals identify their level of pain. In the case of the study, patients had the option of choosing between six faces, including smiling, wincing, frowning and sobbing faces, for their pain assessments. The idea is to rank their pain—suffered from diseases such as cancer, multiple sclerosis, and epilepsy—and see if it changes with the help of medical marijuana.
Two patients who agreed to be interviewed said the marijuana they bought changed their lives. Three other patients who were able to be reached by phone said the marijuana had markedly improved their pain.
New Jersey is one of 22 states that have legalized medical marijuana and has a strict regulation program that calls for doctors to write “recommendations” for patients to use marijuana to treat their symptoms.
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