Treatment of Spasticity in Spinal Cord Injury with Dronabinol, a Tetrahydrocannabinol Derivative

Am J Ther. 1995 Oct;2(10):799-805. doi: 10.1097/00045391-199510000-00012.


Spinal-cord-injured patients and the medical literature have increasingly reported anecdotes regarding tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)-induced spasmolysis. These reports motivated this trial of dronabinol, a THC derivative, for the treatment of spasticity in the spinal-cord-injured population. Five made quadriplegic patients were given oral dronabinol in escalating doses from 5 mg BID to 20 mg TID in addition to their current, but ineffective, spasmolytic regime. The pendulum drop test was used to quantify spasticity (stiffness) in the knees. The Weschler Memory Scale (WMS), Profile of Mood States (POMS), and personal interviews were administered by the clinical psychologist to evaluate any changes in the subjects' cognition and/or emotional states. Spasticity was markedly improved in two of the five subjects, unchanged in a third, fluctuated in a fourth and made progressively worse in a fifth. The WMS revealed improvement in memory skills of two subjects and no change in the other. Psychological interviews and the POMS indicated decreased vigor in all subject, but otherwise demonstrated highly individualized emotional changes as indicated by increases and/or decreases in the dysphoric mood scales.