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Cannabinoids and spinal cord stimulation for the treatment of failed back surgery syndrome refractory pain

Authors Mondello E, Quattrone D, Cardia L, Bova G, Mallamace R, Barbagallo AA, Mondello C, Mannucci C, Di Pietro M, Arcoraci V, Calapai G

Received 26 February 2018

Accepted for publication 23 May 2018

Published 6 September 2018 Volume 2018:11 Pages 1761—1767

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/JPR.S166617

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewers approved by Ms Justinn Cochran

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr E Alfonso Romero-Sandoval


Epifanio Mondello1 Domenico Quattrone,2 Luigi Cardia,1 Giuseppe Bova,2 Raffaella Mallamace,1 Alessia A Barbagallo,2 Cristina Mondello,3 Carmen Mannucci,3 Martina Di Pietro,3 Vincenzo Arcoraci,4 Gioacchino Calapai3

1Anesthesia, Intensive Care and Pain Therapy, Azienda Ospedaliera Universitaria “G Martino” Messina – University of Messina, Messina, Italy; 2Pain Therapy Unit, San Vincenzo Hospital, Azienda Sanitaria Provinciale Messina, Messina, Italy; 3Department of Biomedical and Dental Sciences and Morphofunctional Imaging, University of Messina, Messina, Italy; 4Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, University of Messina, Messina, Italy

Objective: This study aimed to evaluate pain and its symptoms in patients with failed back surgery syndrome (FBSS) refractory to other therapies, treated with a combination of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD), in association with spinal cord stimulation (SCS).
Settings: Outpatients referred at Pain Unit of San Vincenzo Hospital in Taormina (Italy), between September 2014 and January 2016.
Subjects: Eleven FBSS patients diagnosed with neuropathic pain using the Douleur ­Neuropathique 4 questionnaire and suffering from moderate to severe chronic refractory pain, and undergoing treatment with SCS and a combination of THC/CBD for 12 consecutive months.
Materials and methods: All the included patients discontinued previous unsuccessful therapy at least 2 months before the beginning of the cannabinoid therapy, with the exception of the SCS that was continued. Patients received a fixed dosage of cannabinoid agonists (THC/CBD) that could be increased subjective to pain control response. A Brief Pain Inventory questionnaire was administered to measure pain and its interference with characteristic dimensions of feelings and functions. The duration of treatment with SCS and THC/CBD combination was 12 months.
Results: Effective pain management as compared to baseline result was achieved in all the cases studied. The positive effect of cannabinoid agonists on refractory pain was maintained during the entire duration of treatment with minimal dosage titration. Pain perception, evaluated through numeric rating scale, decreased from a baseline mean value of 8.18±1.07–4.72±0.9 by the end of the study duration (12 months) (P<0.001).
Conclusion: The results indicate that cannabinoid agonists (THC/CBD) can have remarkable analgesic capabilities, as adjuvant of SCS, for the treatment of chronic refractory pain of FBSS patients.

Keywords: cannabinoids, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, THC, cannabidiol, CBD, failed back surgery syndrome, FBSS, refractory pain, spinal cord stimulation, SCS, cannabis

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