Cannabis extract eases muscle stiffness typical of multiple sclerosis

October 9, 2012

Cannabis seems to ease the painful muscle stiffness typical of multiple sclerosis, indicate phase III trial results, published in the Journal of Neurology Neurosurgery and Psychiatry.

Up to 90 per cent of MS patients endure painful muscle stiffness at some point during the course of their disease, which reduces their mobility and interferes with daily routine activities and sleep quality. But current treatments often fail to resolve symptoms fully, and can be harmful, as a result of which many MS patients have experimented with alternative therapies, including cannabis.

Adult MS patients with stable disease, from 22 different specialist centres across the UK, were either randomly assigned to cannabis extract (tetrahydrocannabinol) daily (144) or a dummy pill (placebo) (135) for a period of 12 weeks.

The treatments were given in gradually increasing doses from 2.5 mg up to a maximum of 25 mg for two weeks, followed by maintenance doses for the remaining 10 weeks. The aim was to see if cannabis extract alleviated or improved muscle stiffness, associated pain, muscle spasms, and sleep quality, using a validated 11 point rating scale.

After the first two weeks of treatment, 87 per cent of those taking the placebo were on the maximum daily dose compared with just under half of those (47%) taking the cannabis extract.

After 12 weeks, one in four patients treated with cannabis extract was taking the maximum daily dose compared with over two thirds (69.4%) of those taking the placebo.

At the end of the study period, the rate of relief from muscle stiffness was twice as high among those given the cannabis extract as those given the placebo. Muscle stiffness was alleviated in just under 30 per cent of those given cannabis compared with just under 16 per cent of those treated with the placebo.

This difference was evident after 4 and 8 weeks, and also extended to pain, muscle spasms and sleep quality, at all time points, the results showed.

The differences were most noticeable among patients not already using antispasmodic treatment, among whom almost 40 per cent of those taking the cannabis extract gained relief compared with just over 16 per cent of those taking placebo.

The rate of side effects was higher among those taking the cannabis extract and highest during the first two weeks of treatment. Nervous system disorders and gut problems were the most commonly reported side effects, but none was severe.

The authors conclude that the results of their trial indicate that cannabis extract could be a useful treatment for the muscle problems typical of MS, and could provide effective pain relief, particularly for those in considerable pain.

Explore further: Smoked cannabis can help relieve muscle tightness and pain in people with multiple sclerosis

More information: www.jnnp.bmj.com/lookup/doi/10 … 136/jnnp-2012-302468

Related Stories

Smoked cannabis can help relieve muscle tightness and pain in people with multiple sclerosis

May 14, 2012
People with multiple sclerosis may find that smoked cannabis provides relief from muscle tightness — spasticity — and pain, although the benefits come with adverse cognitive effects, according to a new study published ...

Active ingredient of cannabis has no effect on the progression of multiple sclerosis

June 15, 2012
The first large non-commercial study to investigate whether the main active constituent of cannabis (tetrahydrocannabinol or THC) is effective in slowing the course of progressive multiple sclerosis (MS) shows that there ...

Study looks at effects of cannabis on MS progression

May 30, 2012
(Medical Xpress) -- The first large non-commercial study to investigate whether the main active constituent of cannabis (tetrahydrocannabinol or THC) is effective in slowing the course of progressive multiple sclerosis (MS) ...

Recommended for you

Faulty cell signaling derails cerebral cortex development, could it lead to autism?

September 20, 2017
As the embryonic brain develops, an incredibly complex cascade of cellular events occur, starting with progenitors - the originating cells that generate neurons and spur proper cortex development. If this cascade malfunctions ...

Research redefines proteins' role in the development of spinal sensory cells

September 19, 2017
A recent study led by Samantha Butler at the Eli and Edythe Broad Center of Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research at UCLA has overturned a common belief about how a certain class of proteins in the spinal cord regulate ...

The brain at work: Spotting half-hidden objects

September 19, 2017
How does a driver's brain realize that a stop sign is behind a bush when only a red edge is showing? Or how can a monkey suspect that the yellow sliver in the leaves is a round piece of fruit?

Team discovers how to train damaging inflammatory cells to promote repair after stroke

September 19, 2017
White blood cells called neutrophils are like soldiers in your body that form in the bone marrow and at the first sign of microbial attack, head for the site of injury just as fast as they can to neutralize invading bacteria ...

Epileptic seizures show long-distance effects

September 19, 2017
The area in which an epileptic seizure starts in the brain, may be small but it reaches other parts of the brain at distances of over ten centimeters. That distant activity, in turn, influences the epileptic core, according ...

Study uncovers markers for severe form of multiple sclerosis

September 18, 2017
Scientists have uncovered two closely related cytokines—molecules involved in cell communication and movement—that may explain why some people develop progressive multiple sclerosis (MS), the most severe form of the disease. ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.