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Adolescents can have chronic pain, just like adults. It can interfere with normal development, making it difficult for teens to attend school, socialize or be physically active, the cause may be hard to find, and medications are sometimes tried without success. As patients, their parents and physicians search for solutions, there is one increasingly available option they should avoid, Mayo Clinic researchers say: medical marijuana.
Co-author on the study, Mayo Clinic psychiatrist J. Michael Bostwick, M.D., says, “Other consequences may be very, very severe, particularly for adolescents, who may get rid of their pain — or not — at the expense of the rest of their life.” There are few studies on the risks and benefits of marijuana use to treat chronic pain in adults, and even less data on the pros and cons of using it to ease chronic pain in adolescents, the researchers say. They recommend that physicians screen teen chronic pain patients for marijuana use. While medical marijuana may help some specific conditions, its adverse effects, even with short-term use, can include fatigue, impaired concentration and slower reaction times, they say.
Their commentary appears in the July issue of the medical journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings.
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