Medical Pot May Help You Avoid Opioids for Back Pain, Arthritis

TUESDAY, March 22, 2022 (HealthDay News) — medical marijuana Two new studies show the drug could be a viable alternative to opioid painkillers for people with arthritis or chronic back pain. Overall, we found a significant decrease in opioid use when they started using medical marijuana,” Ilyas said. 

Stuart Fisher, an orthopedic surgeon at Summit Orthopedics and Sports Medicine in Summit, State New Jersey. “If we could transition this population to something safer but just as effective, we could do it.”

Ilyas and his colleagues recruited 186 patients with chronic backache and 40 patients with chronic arthritis pain for research.

Between February 2018 and July 2019, doctors allowed patients to buy medical marijuana in Pennsylvania. 

Physicians then tracked patients’ use of opioid painkillers for six months using a government prescription drug monitoring database and using a measure of opioids called morphine milligram equivalents (MMEs):

  • During the study period, the mean daily opioid prescriptions for arthritis patients decreased from 18.2 to 9.8 MME.
  • Patients with back pain also experience a reduction in average daily opioid prescriptions from 15.1 to 11 MMUs.
  • About 37% of patients with arthritis and 38% of patients with back pain stop taking opioid pain medication altogether.

Patients in both groups experienced reduced pain symptoms and improved physical health.

Medical cannabis doesn’t carry the same risk either. Addiction like opioid painkillers, Ilyas added.

“One of the biggest problems with opioids is addiction and the need for higher doses to achieve the same results,” Ilyas said. “Based on our current understanding of medical cannabis, you don’t need to increase your dose to achieve the same results, and we haven’t seen any addictive properties yet.” These results provide new evidence that that can use medical marijuana to treat pain, Fisher says.

“These studies are early.

. We need more information,” Fisher continued. “However, these two studies are a perfect start.”It’s quite expensive, and currently, there is no insurance coverage for it, even with private carriers.”

Ilyas said his future research would focus on how the benefits differ depending on the type of medical cannabis product and different delivery methods.

“We want to emphasize that this looks very promising, but we realize it very early. 

Ilyas presented the results of the two studies at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, which is taking place this week in Chicago. 

More information

The Mayo Clinic has more information about medical cannabis.

SOURCES: Asif Ilyas, MD, orthopedic surgeon, Rothman Orthopedic Institute, Philadelphia; Stuart Fisher, MD, Orthopedic Surgeon, Summit Orthopedics and Sports Medicine, Summit, New Jersey; March 22-26, 2022 Presentations, American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, Annual Meeting, Chicago

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