Chronic pain sufferers seek better access to medicinal cannabis

Call to make access to medicinal cannabis simpler and more affordable

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WHEN THE PAIN WON'T STOP: Many chronic pain patients are considering medicinal cannabis. Image by Heike Frohnhoff from Pixabay

WHEN THE PAIN WON'T STOP: Many chronic pain patients are considering medicinal cannabis. Image by Heike Frohnhoff from Pixabay


Many suffering chronic pain are considering medicinal cannabis as a treatment option.


PEOPLE living with pain want to know more about medicinal cannabis but face hurdles when it comes to accessing treatment.

Chronic Pain Australia's annual National Pain Week survey reveals that many people with chronic pain want access to medicinal cannabis to be simpler and more affordable, with 32 per cent of people speaking to their GP about accessing the treatment.

The organisation's national president Jarrod McMaugh said hurdles faced by people seeking medicinal cannabis included a complicated approval process and cost.

"People living with pain from across Australia have told us that approval can be at the will of the specific doctor you are seeing, depending on their attitude towards it," Mr McMaugh said.

"What we are hearing very clearly is that they feel there is stigma being attributed to medicinal cannabis which is not necessarily placed on other treatment options."

Mr McMaugh said his organisation would like to see medicinal cannabis treated in the same way as any other legal treatment option "subject to the same regulatory standards and evidence as all other medications used in the treatment of pain".

"Community education is also an important part of the process," he said.

"The survey showed almost 68 per cent of respondents wanted to gain more knowledge about the science behind medicinal cannabis, so there is much work still to be done in that regard."

To that end, Chronic Pain Australia intends to hold more public education sessions throughout the country later in the year.

Interestingly, only 14 per cent of the 1200 survey respondents were men - a low result for the second year in a row.

"There is currently a lot of discussion at a national level around the way we manage pain in Australia," Mr McMaugh said. "If men don't participate in this process then we may end up with a pain management system that hasn't included the needs and wishes of half the population."

While the majority of respondents (60 per cent) used a combination of allied health professionals to manage their pain, 84 per cent did not find them affordable and 96 per cent felt the government should provide support in the form of a partial or full rebate.

"Responses to the survey also tell us that medication regularly plays a very necessary part of a person's treatment plan, yet people living in pain are all too often labelled as drug seekers for requiring assistance to simply get out of bed in the morning," Mr McMaugh said.

The facts

ONE in five Australians lives with chronic pain. The prevalence rises to one in three people over the age of 65.

ONE in five GP consultations involve a patient with chronic pain and almost 5 per cent of patients visiting a GP report severe, disabling chronic pain.

THE prevalence of chronic pain is projected to increase as our population ages - from around 3.2 million in 2007 to five million by 2050.

CHRONIC pain is pain that doesn't go away when the injury or illness has resolved - and lasts longer than three months. It can be associated with chronic disease or injury, such as arthritis, lupus, cancer and ongoing infection post-injury.

MANY people live with chronic pain that does not have an obvious explanation in the structures of the body. In these situations, the nervous system and brain play a key role.

PAIN that relates to sensitisation of the nervous system can be particularly problematic. It is invisible and can lead to stigma.

READ MORE: National Pain Week 2019: Tips to manage your pain

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