Central neuropathic pain is difficult to treat, but delta 9-Tetrahydrocannabinol (delta 9-THC) may be a promising therapeutic agent. We administered in 172 patients on average 7.5 mg delta 9-THC over 7 months. Of these, 48 patients prematurely withdrew due to side effects, insufficient analgesia, or expense of therapy. Thus, 124 patients were assessed retrospectively in a multicenter telephone survey. Reported changes in pain intensity, recorded on a numeric rating scale (NRS), Pain Disability Index (PDI), Medical Outcomes Short-Form (SF-12), Quality of Life Impairment by Pain (QLIP), Hospital Anxiety Depression Scale (HADS), and amount of concomitant pain medication were recorded. Psychometric parameters (PDI, SF-12, QLIP, HADS) and pain intensity improved significantly during delta 9-THC treatment. Opioid doses were reduced and patients perceived THC therapy as effective with tolerable side effects. About 25% of the patients, however, did not tolerate the treatment. Therapy success and tolerance can be assessed by a transient delta 9-THC titration and its maintained administration for several weeks. The present survey demonstrates its ameliorating potential for the treatment of chronic pain in central neuropathy and fibromyalgia. A supplemental delta 9-THC treatment as part of a broader pain management plan therefore may represent a promising coanalgesic therapeutic option.
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