Introduction: Medical cannabis may provide a treatment option for chronic neuropathic pain. However, empirical disease-specific data are scarce.
Methods: This is a retrospective observational study including 99 patients with chronic neuropathic pain. These patients received medical cannabis by means of inhaling dried flowers with tetrahydrocannabinol content of <12–22% at a maximal daily dose of 0.15–1 g. Up to six follow-ups were carried out at intervals of 4–6 weeks. Pain severity, sleep disturbance, general improvement, side effects, and therapy tolerance at the follow-up consultations were assessed in interviews and compared with the baseline data using non-parametric Wilcoxon signed-rank test.
Results: Within 6 weeks on the therapy, median of the pain scores decreased significantly from 7.5 to 4.0 (p < 0.001). The proportion of patients with severe pain (score >6) decreased from 96% to 16% (p < 0.001). Sleep disturbance was significantly improved with the median of the scores decreased from 8.0 to 2.0 (p < 0.001). These improvements were sustained over a period of up to 6 months. There were no severe adverse events reported. Mild side effects reported were dryness in mucous tissue (5.4%), fatigue (4.8%), and increased appetite (2.7%). Therapy tolerance was reported in 91% of the interviews.
Conclusion: Medical cannabis is safe and highly effective for treating neuropathic pain and concomitant sleep disturbance.