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J Pain Res. 2018 Sep 6;11:1761-1767. doi: 10.2147/JPR.S166617. eCollection 2018.

Cannabinoids and spinal cord stimulation for the treatment of failed back surgery syndrome refractory pain.

Author information

1
Anesthesia, Intensive Care and Pain Therapy, Azienda Ospedaliera Universitaria "G Martino" Messina - University of Messina, Messina, Italy.
2
Pain Therapy Unit, San Vincenzo Hospital, Azienda Sanitaria Provinciale Messina, Messina, Italy.
3
Department of Biomedical and Dental Sciences and Morphofunctional Imaging, University of Messina, Messina, Italy, gcalapai@unime.it.
4
Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, University of Messina, Messina, Italy.

Abstract

Objective:

This study aimed to evaluate pain and its symptoms in patients with failed back surgery syndrome (FBSS) refractory to other therapies, treated with a combination of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD), in association with spinal cord stimulation (SCS).

Settings:

Outpatients referred at Pain Unit of San Vincenzo Hospital in Taormina (Italy), between September 2014 and January 2016.

Subjects:

Eleven FBSS patients diagnosed with neuropathic pain using the Douleur Neuropathique 4 questionnaire and suffering from moderate to severe chronic refractory pain, and undergoing treatment with SCS and a combination of THC/CBD for 12 consecutive months.

Materials and methods:

All the included patients discontinued previous unsuccessful therapy at least 2 months before the beginning of the cannabinoid therapy, with the exception of the SCS that was continued. Patients received a fixed dosage of cannabinoid agonists (THC/CBD) that could be increased subjective to pain control response. A Brief Pain Inventory questionnaire was administered to measure pain and its interference with characteristic dimensions of feelings and functions. The duration of treatment with SCS and THC/CBD combination was 12 months.

Results:

Effective pain management as compared to baseline result was achieved in all the cases studied. The positive effect of cannabinoid agonists on refractory pain was maintained during the entire duration of treatment with minimal dosage titration. Pain perception, evaluated through numeric rating scale, decreased from a baseline mean value of 8.18±1.07-4.72±0.9 by the end of the study duration (12 months) (P<0.001).

Conclusion:

The results indicate that cannabinoid agonists (THC/CBD) can have remarkable analgesic capabilities, as adjuvant of SCS, for the treatment of chronic refractory pain of FBSS patients.

KEYWORDS:

CBD; FBSS; SCS; THC; cannabidiol; cannabinoids; cannabis; delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol; failed back surgery syndrome; refractory pain; spinal cord stimulation

Conflict of interest statement

Disclosure The authors report no conflicts of interest in this work.

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