Patients suffering from arthritic pain reduce their use of prescription opioids and report improvements in their condition following medical cannabis treatment, according to longitudinal data presented at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons.

Investigators affiliated with the Rothman Opioid Foundation at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia evaluated opioid consumption patterns in a cohort of 40 patients with chronic arthritis pain during the six-months immediately prior to and immediately following their enrollment in the state’s medical cannabis access program. 

Consistent with prior studies, patients reduced their daily intake of opioids over the course of the trial. On average, subjects’ daily morphine milligram equivalents fell by nearly half, from 18.2 to 9.8 MME. Over one-third of the study’s subject ceased using prescription opioids altogether. 

Separate data provided by the same team of investigators reported similar results in patients with chronic back pain. That data was previously published in February in the journal Cureus

“One of the biggest central problems with opioids is both addiction and the need for higher dosages to achieve the same results,” said Dr. Asif Ilyas, the studies’ lead researcher. “Based on our current understanding of medical cannabis, you do not need increasing doses to achieve the same results and we’re not yet seeing any addictive qualities to it.”

Additional information is available from NORML’s fact sheet, ‘Relationship Between Marijuana and Opioids.’ Information on cannabis and arthritis is available from NORML.


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