Study: Post-Operative Cannabis Use Associated with Opioid-Sparing Effects

Denver, CO: Patients who self-report consuming cannabis following hip or knee surgery are less likely than non-users to engage in the long-term use of prescription opioids, according to data in the journal Arthroplasty Today.

A team of investigators affiliated with the University of Denver and with John Hopkins University in Baltimore assessed opioid use trends in a cohort of patients who had recently undergone either total hip or total knee arthroplasty. 

Researchers reported that those patients who reported perioperative cannabis use were less likely to engage in the use of prescription opioids long-term than were matched controls. The findings are consistent with dozens of prior studies documenting reduced levels of opioid consumption in pain patients who initiate cannabis use.

Authors concluded: “This study helps to shed light on what role if any cannabis should play as a part of an opioid-sparing multimodal pain protocol after TJA [total joint arthroplasty]. Self-reported perioperative cannabis use appeared to significantly reduce the number of patients that persistently used opioids greater than 90 days after TJA from 9.5 percent to 1.4 percent. … As cannabis becomes more widely available and patient interest in its use for pain management continues to increase, further research with higher quality, prospective studies are required to clarify its role in perioperative pain management, including the examination of different preparations (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol vs cannabidiol), dosages, routes of administration (edible, inhalation, topical), and frequency of use.”

Full text of the study, “Self-reported cannabis use associated with a lower rate of persistent opioid use after total joint arthroplasty,” appears in Arthroplasty Today. Additional information on the opioid-sparing effects of cannabis is available from NORML’s fact sheet, ‘Relationship Between Marijuana and Opioids.’

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