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New AAOS Study Reveals Cannabis Use for Chronic Musculoskeletal Pain is Rising

Charnell Lock

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New AAOS Study Reveals Cannabis Use for Chronic Musculoskeletal Pain is Rising
  • According to new studies, the use of CBD to manage musculoskeletal pain has become more popular in Canada and the United States.

As of today, medical marijuana programs have been approved in 33 states, District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, and U.S. Virgin Islands. According to a Pew Research Center survey dated September 2019, 59% of adults in the United States believe cannabis should be legalized for medical use and recreational purposes. 32% said marijuana should be legalized for medical use only. Currently, the U.S. FDA has only approved a single prescription drug that contains a cannabis-derived substance.

Although studies have been done on the use of cannabis in cancer and nerve pain management, there isn’t sufficient studies on the efficacy of CBD in managing chronic musculoskeletal pain. A recent study published by the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons' Virtual Education Experience, shows that about 20% of patients with chronic musculoskeletal pain successfully use CBD in management of the pain. Two-thirds of cannabis non-users are also gradually showing interest in trying cannabis in the management of chronic MSK pain, necessitating further studies on its efficacy. Timothy Leroux, orthopedic surgeon, Arthritis Program, University Health Network said,

“We have witnessed an upsurge in the use of CBD in the management of chronic MSK pain. This has aroused interest in studying the effectiveness of cannabis in the management of musculoskeletal pain compared to conventional treatment prescriptions such as opioids and anti-inflammatories. The objective of this study was to find out who is using cannabis treatment, the proportion of users, and their perception on its efficacy.”

A study titled “Understanding the Rate and Perceived Efficacy of Cannabis Use for the Management of Chronic Musculoskeletal Pain,” studied the rate and pattern of marijuana use among patients suffering from chronic MSK pain, efficacy reported by this users, and possible barriers to marijuana use for non-users.

629 patients signed up in the study, and one in every five is either currently using or had previously used marijuana to contain their chronic musculoskeletal pain. 90% of those using or who attempted using cannabis reported it as being effective in the management of their pain, while 40% of them said it reduced their use of other pain treatment prescriptions. 57% reported that cannabis was more effective than other pain-alleviating medications. Of marijuana users, only 26% received a direct recommendation from a professional physician. The rest were recommended marijuana for chronic MSK pain management by friends or family members. The most popular cannabinoid used was cannabidiol at 39%, and the most popular intake method use was the ingestion of oils at 60%. Dr. Leroux said,

“Majority of the doctors, especially orthopedic surgeons, lack prescribing power for marijuana, so there is negligible physician supervision on cannabis use in the management of chronic MSK pain. There is a problem of uncertainty in the cannabis industry regarding potency and other components you get in a product. Another problem is that we can't completely tell what products, dosages, formulations, and routes of administration to prescribe for chronic MSK pain management. Moreover, due to the high rate of use shown in this study and lack of physician supervision, there is an impetus for the medical community to understand the role of cannabis in the management of chronic musculoskeletal pain.”

This study observed that patients using cannabis for chronic MSK pain:

  • Have several conditions, including depression, chronic pelvic pain, back pain, and chronic neck pain.
  • Reported a huge burden of pain; a larger total number of painful zones
  • Reported a past of pain clinic visits
  • Experienced longer periods of a painful condition
  • Had a higher rate of pain prescription use, precisely opioids, and muscle relaxants.

“For patients who didn't use marijuana, we observed stigma, limited access to knowledge of marijuana as barriers to use,” said Dr, Leroux.

Charnell Lock lives in sunny San Diego but is originally from North Carolina and has been writing professionally since 2011. After four years with the Navy and an Associate's Degree in Liberal Arts, Charnell found her passion in creating diverse content with well-formatted research. Along with her years in active duty service, she is capable of crafting whimsical short stories to medical-oriented papers as her capacity to contribute here is immense and will be a staple for many years to come.

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