Introduction: Although cannabis is widely used for the treatment of chronic pain, most research relies on patient self-report and few studies have objectively quantified its efficacy and side effects. Extant inventories for measuring cannabis use were not designed to capture the medically relevant features of cannabis use, but rather were designed to detect problematic use or cannabis use disorder. Thus, we sought to capture the medically relevant features of cannabis use in a population of patients with orthopedic pain and pair these data with objective measures of pain and prescription drug use. Materials and Methods: In this prospective observational study, orthopedic pain patients were enrolled in Pennsylvania's medical cannabis program by their treating pain management physician, received cannabis education from their physician at the time of certification, and purchased products from state-licensed cannabis retailers. Results: Medical cannabis use was associated with clinical improvements in pain, function, and quality of life with reductions in prescription drug use; 73% either ceased or decreased opioid consumption and 31% discontinued benzodiazepines. Importantly, 52% of patients did not experience intoxication as a side effect of cannabis therapy. Significant clinical benefits of cannabis occurred within 3 months of initiating cannabis therapy and plateaued at the subsequent follow-ups. Conclusions: This work provides a direct relationship between the initiation of cannabis therapy and objectively fewer opioid and benzodiazepine prescriptions. Our work also identifies specific subpopulations of patients for whom cannabis may be most efficacious in reducing opioid consumption, and it highlights the importance of both physician involvement and patient self-titration in symptom management with cannabis.
Greis, Ari; Larsen, Eric; Liu, Conan; Renslo, Bryan; Radakrishnan, Anjithaa; and Wilson-Poe, Adrianne R, "Perceived Efficacy, Reduced Prescription Drug Use, and Minimal Side Effects of Cannabis in Patients with Chronic Orthopedic Pain" (2022). Rothman Institute Faculty Papers. Paper 195.
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