Dronabinol as a Treatment for Neuropathic Pain


What is neuropathic pain?

Neuropathic pain occurs when the central nervous system or the peripheral nerves are damaged. Peripheral neuropathy usually begins in the longest nerves of the body, such as the feet and hands. As the condition progresses, it moves up the arms and legs.

Because the spine and nerves are intertwined and work together, issues in the spine can cause nerve pain. Lumbar herniated disc is a common form of nerve pain that occurs when a disc between the vertebrae becomes herniated and places pressure on a spinal nerve root. Once the nerves become damaged and neuropathy becomes an issue, false signals are sent from the peripheral nervous system and central nervous system to the spinal cord, and then to the brain.

What is dronabinol?

Dronabinol is synthetic tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. This medication is often used to control nausea and vomiting when other medications fail to help. It may also treat appetite issues and weight loss associated with HIV. Cannabis, along with its derivatives, such as THC, are frequently utilized for pain management. They are known to impact the CB1 and CB2 receptors that are primarily located in the central nervous system, lungs, liver, and immune cells.

Dronabinol for neuropathic pain

Dronabinol is currently being explored for its use as a treatment for neuropathic pain. Studies show that individuals with neuropathic pain experience pain reduction while undergoing THC therapy. Pain intensity decreases with long-term use. Additionally, overall functionality seemed to increase with respect to academic performance, sleep, and overall mood. This effect dissipated with prolonged time.

A clinical trial involving 240 patients who had central neuropathic pain associated with multiple sclerosis was completed over the span of 16 weeks. There was no statistical proof of the effectiveness of dronabinol over the placebo; however, the occurrence of serious adverse reactions was rare. Additional studies are needed to determine the efficacy of dronabinol on neuropathic pain, but evidence shows that it is a safe, well-tolerated treatment.