The following information is presented for educational purposes only.
Medical Marijuana Inc. provides this information to provide an understanding
of the potential applications of cannabidiol. Links to third party websites
do not constitute an endorsement of these organizations by Medical Marijuana
Inc. and none should be inferred.
Fibromyalgia is a disorder characterized by intense musculoskeletal pain
that affects 5 million Americans. Studies have shown marijuana effectively
lowers pain levels and improves quality of sleep in patients.
Overview of Fibromyalgia
Fibromyalgia is a common disorder characterized by widespread pain and
fatigue that primarily affects women. The disorder can greatly affect a
person’s abilities to perform daily activities and causes sleep problems.
According to Mayo Clinic, having fibromyalgia affects the way the brain
processes pain signals and makes painful sensations feel amplified.
In addition to pain, fatigue and sleep problems, those with fibromyalgia may
also experience cognitive and memory problems, headaches, morning stiffness,
painful menstrual periods, numbness or tingling, restless legs syndrome,
temperature to sensitivity, irritable bowel syndrome, and depression.
The causes of fibromyalgia remain unknown, but the National Institute of
Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases notes that many people
associate their fibromyalgia to a physically or emotionally stressful or
traumatic event. Repetitive injuries or illnesses are also commonly
associated to fibromyalgia by patients. Others claim the disorder developed
There is no cure of fibromyalgia, so treatment focus is on controlling
symptoms with pain relievers, antidepressants, exercise and therapy.
Findings: Effects of Cannabis on Fibromyalgia
The cannabinoids contained in cannabis have both analgesic and
sleep-promoting effects to help fibromyalgia patients manage symptoms.
Studies have found that cannabis is effective at improving sleep disruption,
pain, depression, joint stiffness, anxiety, physical function and quality of
life in individuals with fibromyalgia (de Souza Nascimento, et al., 2013)
While fibromyalgia is known for causing intense and unrelenting
musculoskeletal pain, cannabis has proven effective at offering fibromyalgia
patients relief. Fibromyalgia patients treated with cannabis and assessed
over a seven-month period experienced significant pain intensity
improvements and were able to reduce their doses of opioids (Weber, et al.,
2009). One study discovered that after four weeks of cannabis treatment,
fibromyalgia patients experienced significantly less pain and anxiety
whereas a placebo group saw no improvements (Skrabek, Galimova, Ethans &
Perry, 2008). Another study reported significant reductions in pain and
stiffness, an enhancement of relaxation and an increase in somnolence and
feeling of well being in fibromyalgia patients two hours after they smoked
or orally consumed cannabis (Fiz, et al., 2011).
Cannabis has also been found to be effective at improving sleep quality in
patients with fibromyalgia (Ware, Fitzcharles, Joseph & Shir, 2010).
States That Have Approved Medical Marijuana for Fibromyalgia
Only the states of Arkansas, Illinois, North
Dakota and Ohio have
approved medical marijuana specifically for the treatment of fibromyalgia.
However, several states have approved medical marijuana specifically to
treat “chronic pain,” a symptom commonly associated with fibromyalgia. These
states include: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Montana, New
Mexico, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode
Island and Vermont.
The states of Nevada, New
Dakota, Montana, Ohio and Vermont allow
medical marijuana to treat “severe pain.” The states of Arkansas, Minnesota, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Washington have
approved cannabis for the treatment of “intractable pain.”
Sixteen states have approved medical marijuana for the treatment of spasms.
These states include: Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, New
Hampshire, Oregon, Rhode
Island and Washington.
A number of other states will consider allowing medical marijuana to be used
for the treatment of fibromyalgia with the recommendation by a physician.
These states include: California (any
debilitating illness where the medical use of marijuana has been recommended
by a physician), Connecticut (other
medical conditions may be approved by the Department of Consumer
Protection), Massachusetts (other
conditions as determined in writing by a qualifying patient’s physician), Nevada (other
conditions subject to approval), Oregon (other
conditions subject to approval), Rhode
conditions subject to approval), and Washington (any
“terminal or debilitating condition”).
D.C., any condition can be approved for medical marijuana as long as a
DC-licensed physician recommends the treatment.
Recent Studies on Cannabis’ Effect on Fibromyalgia
Fibromyalgia patients experienced significant reductions in pain and
stiffness, an enhancement of relaxation, and an increase in somnolence
and feeling of well being, two hours after smoking or orally consuming
Cannabis use in patients with fibromyalgia: effect on symptoms relief
and health-related quality of life.
Cannabis medication found effective at improving sleep quality and was
well tolerated by fibromyalgia patients.
The effects of nabilone on sleep in fibromyalgia: results of a
randomized controlled trial.
Chiari malformation and syringomyelia. (n.d.). Mayo
Retrieved from http://www.mayoclinic.org/medical-professionals/clinical-updates/neurosciences/chiari-malformation-syringomyelia.
de Souza Nascimento, S., Desantana, J.M., Nampo, F.K., Ribeiro, E.A., da
Silva, D.L., Araujo-Junior, J.X., da Silva Almeida, J.R., Bonjardim, L.R.,
de Souza Araujo, A.A., and Quintans-Junior, L.J. (2013). Eficacy and safety
of medicinal plants or related natural products for fibromyalgia: a
systematic review. Evidence-Based
Complementary and Alternative Medicine,
2013. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23861696.
Fibromyalgia. (2014, February 20). Mayo
Retrieved from http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/fibromyalgia/basics/definition/con-20019243.
Fibromyalgia. (2014, July). National
Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases.
Retrieved from http://www.niams.nih.gov/health_info/fibromyalgia/.
Fiz., J., Duran, M., Capella, D., Carbonell, J., and Farre, M. (2011,
April). Cannabis use in patients with fibromyalgia: effect on symptoms
relief and health-related quality of life. PLoS
6(4). Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21533029.
Russo, E.B. (2004, February-April). Clinical endocannabinoid deficiency (CECD):
can this concept explain therapeutic benefits of cannabis in migraine,
fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome and other treatment-resistant
Skrabek, R.Q., Galimova, L., Ethans, K., and Perry. D. (2008, February).
Nabilone for the treatment of pain in fibromyalgia. Journal
Ware, M.A., Fitzcharles, M.A., Joseph, L., and Shir, Y. (2010, February 1).
The effects of nabilone on sleep in fibromyalgia: results of a randomized
controlled trial. Anesthesia
Weber, J., Schley, M., Casutt, M., Gerber, H., Schuepfer, G., Rukwied, R.,
Schleinzer, W., Ueberall, M., and Konrad, C. (2009). Tetrahydrocannabinol
(Delta 9-THC) Treatment in Chronic Central Neuropathic Pain and Fibromyalgia
Patients: Results of a Multicenter Survey. Anesthesiology
Research and Practice,
2009. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20798872.
Wissel, J., Haydn, T., Muller, J., Brenneis, C., Berger, T., Poewe, W., and
Schelosky, L.D. (2006, October). Low dose treatment with the synthetic
cannabinoid Nabilone significantly reduces spasticity-related pain: a
double-blind placebo-controlled cross-over trial. Journal
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