Original article| Volume 75, 104742, July 2023

Characterizing cannabis use in a sample of adults with multiple sclerosis and chronic pain: An observational study


      • In this sample of 242 people with MS (PwMS) and chronic pain, 65 (27%) reported the use of cannabis for pain management.
      • The most common route of administration was oil/tincture (reported by 42% of cannabis users), followed by vaped (22%) and edible (17%) products.
      • Cannabis users were slightly younger than non-users and reported higher levels of pain intensity, pain interference, and neuropathic pain.
      • Longitudinal studies are needed to examine the effects of cannabinoid use on pain-related outcomes over time, as well as qualitative research to explore motives for cannabis use.



      Although cannabis has become an increasingly common method for pain management among people with multiple sclerosis (PwMS), there is a dearth of knowledge regarding the types of cannabis products used as well as the characteristics of cannabis users. The current study aimed to (1) describe the prevalence of cannabis use and the routes of administration of cannabis products in adults with an existing chronic pain condition and MS, (2) to examine differences in demographic and disease-related variables between cannabis users and non-users, and (3) to examine differences between cannabis users and non-users in pain-related variables, including pain intensity, pain interference, neuropathic pain, pain medication use, and pain-related coping.


      Secondary analysis of baseline data from participants with multiple sclerosis (MS) and chronic pain (N = 242) enrolled in an RCT comparing mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT), cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), and usual care for chronic pain. Statistical methods included t-tests, Mann-Whitney tests, chi-square tests, and Fisher's exact tests to assess for differences in demographic, disease-related, and pain-related variables between cannabis users and non-users.


      Of the 242 participants included in the sample, 65 (27%) reported the use of cannabis for pain management. The most common route of administration was oil/tincture (reported by 42% of cannabis users), followed by vaped (22%) and edible (17%) products. Cannabis users were slightly younger than non-users (Medage 51.0 vs 55.0, p = .019) and reported higher median pain intensity scores (6.0 vs 5.0, p = .022), higher median pain interference scores (5.9 vs 5.4, p = .027), and higher median levels of neuropathic pain (20.0 vs 16.0, p = .001).


      The current study identified factors that may intersect with cannabis use for pain management and adds to our current knowledge of the types of cannabis products used by PwMS. Future research should continue to investigate trends in cannabis use for pain management, especially as the legality and availability of products continue to shift. Additionally, longitudinal studies are needed to examine the effects of cannabis use on pain-related outcomes over time.


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