VFL player Ryan Gale has spoken out in favour of using medical cannabis to treat chronic pain in athletes.
Gale is an ex-WAFL and current Richmond player. Earlier this week, he spoke to 7News about his experience treating chronic pain with medical cannabis. Throughout his sporting career, Gale suffered several injuries and chronic pain culminating in a hip replacement at age 33.
Gale isn’t alone either.
The AFL is currently fighting a class-action lawsuit that alleges players are suffering from chronic pain after in-game injuries and concussions. Gale’s experience is also backed up by the early results of a clinical trial conducted by medical cannabis company Zelira Pharmaceuticals.
The study was conducted in both Melbourne and Perth, partnering with St Vincent’s Hospital and Emerald Clinics to compare the pain-fighting properties of medical cannabis and morphine.
The study included six participants, all of whom are retired athletes crippled by chronic pain from sporting injuries.
During the first phase of the trial, patients received 60mgs of morphine daily for seven days. During Phase 2, participants were given a single dose of medical cannabis on the first day, and two doses of medical cannabis daily for six additional days.
Participants also filled out pain questionnaires to determine their pain interference scores, which measures the impact of pain on a persons function and daily life.
Ultimately the study found that medical cannabis made a “significant improvement” to the pain interference scores of participants.
Zelira Therapeutics managing director Dr Richard Hopkins told 7News that sporting pain and injury among athletes is a “silent epidemic”, adding this study legitimises medical cannabis as a solution.
Not only did we find that our cannabinoid formulation is safe for them to use and did not result in any serious side-effects, but we have also seen promising effects.
He also suggested medical cannabis could be a good substitute for physically dependent drugs like opioids. A report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare show that opioids were present in 64.5% of drug-induced deaths in 2018.
A Canadian study published in June is also consistent with Dr Hopkin’s findings. It showed that medical cannabis lowers long-term opioid use in chronic pain patients. You can read that story here.