HPR 601 Research Methods in Health and Human Performance
Spring 2018
Effect of Marijuana on Pain in College Football Players
Instructor: Dr. Kathleen Little
Casey Pestak
May 8, 2018

Marijuana has long been a recreational drug but is now also key part of the medical world. Marijuana has become an important factor in pain management. Studies of medical marijuana show significant improvement in various types of pain. “Cannabis shows up to apply its pain-relieving impacts by acting on certain locales within the brain and spinal nerves. These particular destinations are called cannabinoid receptors. The cannabinoid compound interfaces to these receptors, much like two perplex pieces fitting together. Once, joined, the receptor changes the way the brain cell or nerve cell capacities. This modification of work changes the way the cell sees difficult boost, regularly diminishing the intensity of torment that’s translated by the brain” (Greenwell, 2012). Marijuana has other favorable side effects on certain health problems and even some psychological diseases. Some of these health problems arise in athletes; these athletes can develop many different health problems, which can include broken bones to significant head injuries.
Literature Review
Marijuana has many different side effects, some good, some bad. Many studies have shown that marijuana used in a medical fashion can not only be beneficial for any person dealing with some type of medical issue, but also for athletes that may suffer an injury in a game.
Pain doesn’t just affect athletes, pain is an everyday problem that normal people deal with on a daily basis. “Chronic neuropathic pain affects 1%–2% of the adult population and is often refractory to standard pharmacologic treatment. Patients with chronic pain have reported using smoked cannabis to relieve pain, improve sleep and improve mood.” (Ware, 2010).
An injury occurs in almost every game of every sport. One of the more serious injuries that occurs in sports is head injuries. According to an article written by Jason M. Breslow of The Frontline, he states that “modern information stated by the NFL appears that development in checking the league’s most high-profile wellbeing, the concussion danger, took a step back in 2015. Players sustained 271 concussions during the 2015 season, these numbers were an increase in the numbers from the 2014 season. an increment of 31.6 percent over 2014. New numbers show that there was an increase of 58.2 percent in head injuries from 115 to 182. These numbers were the highest they have been in the last four years.” Most football players that suffer a concussion either go untreated or make an effort to keep it quiet and attempt to handle it by themselves with the use of over the counter medications like Advil or Ibuprofen. Some players even turn to marijuana to help with these concussion side effects even though marijuana is illegal in the NFL. Maese (2017) interviewed former players and asked them about their struggle with the pain from playing football. These players opened up about their struggle and said, “This pain is never going away. My body is damaged, I have to manage it somehow. Managing it with pills was slowly killing me. Now I’m able to function and be extremely efficient by figuring out how to use different formulations of cannabis.” (Maese, 2017, 1).
In a study done on the high and low dose effect of cannabis stated, “the study concluded that both low and high cannabis doses were efficacious in reducing neuropathic pain of diverse causes.”(Wilsey, 2008). The results of this study helped show that the use of cannabis was helpful in reducing chronic pain that these patients were going through. Throughout this study some of the patients dealt with some unwanted side effects that the smoked cannabis brought about, these side effects may have been unwanted but none of these side effects were unwanted enough that it would cause the patients to exit the study. These patients just looked at these side effects as something that came along with the smoked cannabis and they were will to deal with these side effects, if it meant that the pain they were suffering would be taken care of.
Marijuana is quickly becoming a drug that is easy accessible as well as legal in some states. Many people use this drug for recreational use, but many people are looking for a way to deal with pain.

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The purpose of this study was to determine if marijuana is effective for pain management in college football players. College football players that use marijuana in place of ibuprofen will have a lower score on the pain assessment scale than those who use ibuprofen.
Research Design
Experimental Research design. This research will study the effects that marijuana has on pain, and it will specifically focus on college football players. Repeated measures ANOVA were used to assess treatment differences due to the independent variable (marijuana) on the dependent variable (pain). SPSS (version 22) was used for all analyses with .05 used as the level of significance.

20 college football players were randomly arranged into either an experimental or control group. Both groups were followed for a 12-week season with a pain assessment questionnaire administered with a Pre and Post interaction on a (0-10 scale, see Appendix).

Each player was given a pain assessment pretest before their 12-week season started to determine where they fell prior to the research study began. After the pretest was given each player in their given groups was given 500 mg of the certain drug being distributed. Each player in each group will be retested each week of the season but will only be revaluated at the end of the season to see if there was a significant difference in the pain assessment averages between the groups.

With this is college football teams schedule including all Saturday games during the year, the players of each group will be given the corresponding drug on the following Monday. The experimental group was given a cannabis dosage of 500 mg for pain, while the control group was given the same dosage of 500 mg but instead of cannabis this group was given Ibuprofen only.
All participants were given a pain assessment scale survey (see appendix) to gage their pain from playing college football. Responses could be ranged from 0-10. 0 representing “No Pain” while 10 represented “Unable to Move” “I am in bed and can’t move due to my pain. I need someone to take me to the emergency room to get help for my pain.” Respondents were told to complete the pain assessment as truthfully as they could to help understand where they sat on pain levels.
1926077472751Table 1. Pain Results (0-10 scale)
0Table 1. Pain Results (0-10 scale)
The results showed a significant decrease in pain in the experimental group, with little change in the control group.
Group Mean Std. Deviation N
Pre Control 4.40 1.506 10
Expirmental4.60 2.066 10
Total 4.50 1.762 20
Post Control 4.10 1.101 10
Expirmental2.80 1.398 10
Total 3.45 1.395 20

Figure 1. Significant group by time interaction (p = .007)
Figure 1. Significant group by time interaction (p = .007)
14541519062700Figure 1. shows the significant interaction (p = .007). The players that used cannabis to reduce pain during the season showed a significant decrease in overall pain. The players that used ibuprofen only, showed only a small decrease.

With more and more states passing laws to allow the use of marijuana for recreational use, it may not be too long before college and professional sports joins in the movement. The results of this study, supported the hypothesis that marijuana would significantly decrease pain more than ibuprofen in college football players.
With the recreational use of marijuana being legalized in the states like Colorado, California, and Washington, how might it affect pain in athletes is worth exploring. Athletes, whether in college or playing professionally, are always looked upon as role models that youth look to provide them with a positive outlook on life and for something for them to strive towards. College football players run at high speeds and hit each other at high impacts, which can cause severe sports injuries. Concussions are the most prevalent severe injury in football. Concussions affect players more than just the day that they are injured. This type of injury can affect the player for the whole season. There have been players that have been concussed in the first game of the season and miss most if not the whole rest of the season.
Marijuana has been proven to alleviate pain on a regular basis, enhance the creation of medical marijuana that can be prescribed by doctors to help their patients deal with whatever pain that they may be going through. As stated in The Marijuana Doctor, “medical cannabis for chronic pain has been shown to be an extremely effective treatment and much safer than opioids. Patients suffering from pain related to the nervous system have found particularly strong improvement in symptoms” References
Breslow, Jason. What the NFL’s New Concussion Numbers Don’t Answer. (n.d.). Retrieved March 10, 2018, from https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/frontline/article/what-the-nfls-new-concussion-numbers-dont-answer/
Greenwell, G. T. (2012). Medical Marijuana Use for Chronic Pain: Risks and Benefits. Journal of Pain & Palliative Care Pharmacotherapy, 26(1), 68-69. doi:10.3109/15360288.2011.652350
Maese, R. (2017, May 02). NFL players fight pain with medical marijuana: ‘Managing it with pills was slowly killing me’. Retrieved March 10, 2018, from https://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/redskins/nfl-players-fight-pain-with-medical-marijuana-managing-it-with-pills-was-slowly-killing-me/2017/05/02/676e4e62-2e80-11e7-9534-00e4656c22aa_story.html
Peruzzi, Marc. “Pot for Pain.” Mensjournal.com. Men’s Journal, 4 Oct. 2008
Ware, M. A., Wang, T., Shapiro, S., Robinson, A., Ducruet, T., Huynh, T., ; … Collet, J. (2010). Smoked cannabis for chronic neuropathic pain: a randomized controlled trial. CMAJ: Canadian Medical Association Journal = Journal De L’association Medicale Canadienne, 182(14), E694-E701. doi:10.1503/cmaj.091414
Webb, C. W., & Webb, S. M. (2014). Therapeutic benefits of cannabis: a patient survey. Hawai’i Journal Of Medicine ; Public Health: A Journal Of Asia Pacific Medicine ; Public Health, 73(4), 109-111.

Wilsey, B., Marcotte, T., Tsodikov, A., Millman, J., Bentley, H., Gouaux, B., ; Fishman, S. (2008). A Randomized, Placebo-Controlled, Crossover Trial of Cannabis Cigarettes in Neuropathic Pain. The Journal of Pain, 9(6), 506-521. doi:10.1016/j.jpain.2007.12.010
Wilsey, B., Marcotte, T., Deutsch, R., Gouaux, B., Sakai, S., ; Donaghe, H. (2013). Low-Dose Vaporized Cannabis Significantly Improves Neuropathic Pain. The Journal of Pain, 14(2), 136-148. doi:10.1016/j.jpain.2012.10.009