Cannabis Trial Targets Chronic SCI Pain

The University of Sydney is running a trial to research the effectiveness of cannabis on chronic pain for people with spinal cord injuries (SCI).

In a Jan. 30 announcement, the university said a team of scientists had been awarded $1.7 million Australian ($1.178 million U.S.) from the New South Wales Ministry of Health to conduct the research.

The school noted, “Up to 80 percent of people with a spinal cord injury develop some degree of persistent pain. A specific type of pain known as neuropathic pain is caused by damage to the spinal cord. … The pain can be so severe that many regard it as the most debilitating part of their injury.”

Lead investigator Luke Henderson, a professor at the University of Sydney’s Brain and Mind Centre and the School of Medical Sciences, said current treatments for neuropathic pain are “limited and often come with significant side effects,” thus highlighting the need for other options.

The study will examine whether cannabidiol “is safe and effective in reducing neuropathic pain in people with spinal cord injury” using brain imaging techniques “to identify and understand the specific changes that occur in the brain after a spinal cord injury that lead to the development of neuropathic pain,” said Rebecca Robertson, Ph.D. candidate and study coordinator at the University of Sydney’s School of Medical Sciences.

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Laurie Watanabe is the editor of Mobility Management. She can be reached at

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