Cannabis use in patients with Autosomal Recessive Spastic Ataxia of Charlevoix-Saguenay

J Clin Neurosci. 2022 Sep:103:44-48. doi: 10.1016/j.jocn.2022.06.019. Epub 2022 Jul 6.


Autosomal Recessive Spastic Ataxia of Charlevoix-Saguenay (ARSACS) is an early-onset cerebellar ataxia with often presence of peripheral sensorimotor neuropathy and lower limb spasticity. Recently, the presence of pain has been associated with ARSACS in a quarter of the population in relation to spasms and neuropathic pain. However, limited therapeutic options available to patients and the occurrence of persistent symptoms despite treatment with the usual pharmacologic agents have led to exploring cannabis as a potential alternative. The aim of this study was to characterize the profile of cannabis use among patients with ARSACS. Phone interviews were conducted to document current or former cannabis use. Reasons of cannabis use and the characteristics of use were also investigated. Among the 50 study participants, 18% currently used cannabis, 40% reported at least one occurrence of cannabis use and 42% reported having never used cannabis. A greater proportion of patients with regular cannabis use reported chronic pain in comparison to those who never used. Although less frequent than ataxia, spasticity, muscle cramps or muscle spasms, which were independently reported by more than half of the studied sample, chronic pain was notably present in 30% of participants. While our study did not assess the therapeutic effects of cannabis, our results highlight that there is a potential role for cannabis and cannabinoids in the management of multiple ARSACS-associated symptoms and that agents modulating the endocannabinoid system need to be properly investigated.

Keywords: ARSACS; Ataxia; Cannabis; Pain; Spasticity.

MeSH terms

  • Analgesics
  • Ataxia
  • Cannabis*
  • Cerebellar Ataxia*
  • Humans
  • Muscle Spasticity
  • Spinocerebellar Ataxias* / congenital


  • Analgesics

Supplementary concepts

  • Spastic ataxia Charlevoix-Saguenay type