When it comes to chronic pain, most people use opioids for relief. A newer option that many are resorting to is the use of cannabis. But is it a good idea to choose these two over non-drug treatments like gentle massages, pet therapy, and acupuncture? Not so much.
Opioids come with negative side effects such as addiction and can even cause loss of life on overdosage. Cannabis is being voted for as the safer alternative but research on the herb is limited and it too, has adverse effects.
Now researchers from New Zealand have found that media reports on chronic pain discuss cannabis and opioids as treatment options more as opposed to non-drug treatment routes. The New Zealand Medical Journal has published this latest study of news reports.
More Focus On Drugs
For the purpose of this research, researchers looked at the news reports published from January 2015 to June 2019. All the 240 articles were on chronic pain, which is among the leading causes of disability. Authors of the study say that few of these news pieces covered non-drug treatments for relief from chronic pain.
In actual, non-pharmaceutical treatments are more preferred for most kinds of chronic pain conditions. Researchers noted that news on opioids called them relatively ineffective and risky whereas that on cannabis called the drug more effective and safer. Cannabis was favored even though there are not many studies on its long-term effects.
What put cannabis forward as a more suitable option were mainly the reviews of people who had found it efficient. No reports talked about adverse effects linked to cannabis even though there are quite a few of those, particularly for adolescents.
Cannabis use can cause dependency, depression, and cognitive problems among youngsters. Little focus was on non-drug treatments such as cognitive behavioral therapy and exercise even though those are safe and effective in the long run.
Researchers said, “Pharmacological strategies are only recommended for some chronic pain conditions, such as cancer pain and neuropathic pain. For other pain conditions, drug treatments are recommended to be used with care and caution because of potential side effects and limited long-term effectiveness.”
Why Non-Drug Treatments Are Better
While drugs have negative side effects, non-pharmaceutical treatments do not. Moreover, these non-drug options also happen to have more benefits. Take for instance, exercise and acupuncture. The former helps with chronic pain as well as boosts brain and cardiovascular health.
Acupuncture also helps with focus, digestion, and immunity along with providing relief from chronic pain. While cannabis is being lauded as a suitable option it needs more research to prove it reliable.
A new research shows that in New Zealand, news articles focus more on opioids and cannabis for chronic pain relief. Though the former is seen negatively mainly, the latter is celebrated as a safer option. In truth, cannabis has side effects. What’s more, for most cases of chronic pain, relief through non-pharmaceutical measures is better.