Lots of people are using medical marijuana to treat their arthritis and other muscle aches and pains, often without consulting their doctor, a new study reports.
As many as 1 in 5 patients who consult an orthopedic surgeon for chronic musculoskeletal pain are using a cannabis product to treat them, Canadian researchers found.
“We found 20% had reported past or current use of cannabis with the specific intention to manage pain,” said study author Dr. Timothy Leroux, an orthopedic surgeon at the University of Toronto. “Not just recreational users, but patients who said, ‘I’m using cannabis because I want to improve pain with this condition.’ ”
There’s also a lot of interest in medical marijuana among arthritis sufferers who haven’t yet tried it, Leroux and his team found.
Two-thirds of nonusers are interested in trying a cannabis product to treat their muscle and joint pain, the researchers reported.
“A lot of patients feel they have a lack of knowledge and are staying on the sidelines while we gather more science,” Leroux said.
For this study, he and his colleagues surveyed more than 600 patients who visited a Toronto orthopedic clinic.
People using cannabis generally had high praise for the products. Nine out of 10 said it was effective in managing their pain, and 4 in 10 said it decreased their reliance on other pain medications. Nearly 6 in 10 said cannabis products were more effective than other drugs.
“This is encouraging in the face of the ongoing opioid epidemic, as we look to find safe alternatives to opioids for pain control,” said Dr. Yili Huang, director of the Pain Management Center at Northwell Phelps Hospital in Sleepy Hollow, N.Y.
“Cannabis may help decrease, or in some cases completely replace, the amount of opioid medication necessary to control pain,” said Huang, who wasn’t part of the study. “This may be because cannabis works on many different pain pathways in our body and can even interact with the separate chemical pathways opioids work on.”
Source: Web Md