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

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TUESDAY, March 22, 2022 (HealthDay Information) — Medical marijuana might be a viable different to opioid painkillers for individuals coping with arthritis or persistent back pain, two new research present.

Many sufferers prescribed opioids for his or her chronic pain wound up taking fewer painkillers — or stopping them altogether — after docs licensed them for medical cannabis, mentioned lead researcher Dr. Asif Ilyas, an orthopedic surgeon at Rothman Orthopaedic Institute in Philadelphia.

“We discovered broadly a big discount in opioid use after they began utilizing medical hashish,” Ilyas mentioned. “We noticed a lower in roughly 40% of opioid use after beginning medical hashish, with 37% to 38% of sufferers fully discontinuing opioid use altogether.”

If validated, these outcomes point out that medical marijuana might be a possible technique of combating America’s opioid epidemic, which has been pushed partly by prescription painkillers, mentioned Dr. Stuart Fischer, an orthopedic surgeon with Summit Orthopaedics and Sports activities Medication in Summit, N.J.

“We’ve an enormous variety of people who find themselves on opioids who’re being handled for persistent again ache,” mentioned Fischer, who wasn’t a part of the research. “If we might transfer that inhabitants to one thing that is safer however simply as efficient, we might do very effectively.”

For the research, Ilyas and his colleagues recruited 186 sufferers with persistent back pain and 40 sufferers with persistent arthritis pain.

Between February 2018 and July 2019, docs licensed the sufferers to buy medical marijuana within the state of Pennsylvania. The sufferers have been allowed to make use of pot as they selected — some vaped or smoked, whereas others used edibles.

Docs then tracked the sufferers’ opioid painkiller use for six months utilizing a state-run prescription drug monitoring database, and utilizing an opioid measurement referred to as morphine milligram equivalents (MME):

  • Common each day opioid prescriptions for arthritis sufferers declined through the research interval, falling from 18.2 to 9.8 MME.
  • Again ache sufferers additionally expertise a discount of their common each day opioid prescriptions, from 15.1 to 11 MME.
  • About 37% of arthritis sufferers and 38% of again ache sufferers stop opioid painkillers altogether.

Sufferers in each teams skilled a discount of their ache signs and an enchancment of their bodily well being.

Medical hashish additionally does not seem to hold the identical danger of addiction as opioid painkillers, Ilyas added.

“One of many greatest central issues with opioids is each habit and the necessity for increased dosages to realize the identical outcomes,” Ilyas mentioned. “Primarily based on our present understanding of medical hashish, you do not want growing doses to realize the identical outcomes and we’re not but seeing any addictive qualities to it.”

These outcomes present contemporary proof for the potential to deal with ache with medical pot, Fischer mentioned.

“Clearly these research are early. Medical marijuana has not been in public use for all that lengthy, so we’d like extra information and we’d like extra research. We’d like extra info,” Fischer continued. “Nonetheless, these two research are a really, excellent begin.”

Extra analysis is required, partly, to persuade insurance coverage firms to cowl the price of medical pot as they do prescription opioids, the specialists mentioned.

“One of many greatest limitations to utilization is price,” Ilyas defined. “It is fairly costly, and there isn’t any insurance coverage protection for it right now, even with personal carriers.”

Ilyas mentioned his future analysis will deal with how advantages differ, relying on the kind of medical hashish product, and totally different supply strategies.

“We need to emphasize this appears very promising, however we’re very early in our understanding of this. Extra investigation is required,” Ilyas mentioned.

Ilyas introduced outcomes from the 2 research on the annual assembly of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, going down this week in Chicago. Data introduced at conferences ought to be thought-about preliminary till printed in a peer-reviewed journal.

Extra info

The Mayo Clinic has extra about medical hashish.

SOURCES: Asif Ilyas, MD, orthopedic surgeon, Rothman Orthopaedic Institute, Philadelphia; Stuart Fischer, MD, orthopedic surgeon, Summit Orthopaedics and Sports activities Medication, Summit, N.J.; March 22-26, 2022 displays, American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, annual assembly, Chicago

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