February 19, 2018
1 min read

Most patients believe medical marijuana may reduce pain after musculoskeletal injury

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Among patients who experienced musculoskeletal trauma, most believed medical marijuana can reduce postinjury and postoperative pain, reporting alleviation of pain symptoms and a reduction in opioid intake, according to recently published study results.

Michael J. Weaver, MD, of Harvard Medical School Orthopedic Trauma Initiative, and colleagues conducted a survey of 500 patients regarding patient history and perception of marijuana treatment for pain in musculoskeletal injury. Data showed that 78% of patients felt marijuana could treat pain and 62% felt it could treat anxiety. Further, 60% of patients had used marijuana at least once previously vs. 14% who reported using marijuana only after their injury. The results also revealed that 90% of patients who used marijuana during their recovery believed it reduced symptoms of pain. Researchers also noted 81% of patients who used marijuana during their recovery believed it reduced the amount of opioid pain medication they used.

Michael J. Weaver

However, while 84% of patients reported they would be either very comfortable or comfortable discussing medical marijuana with their health care provider, results showed not as many patients understood the legality of medical marijuana use in Massachusetts. Only 59% of patients correctly knew that marijuana use for medical purposes was legal in Massachusetts and only 55% correctly identified that there were now legal dispensaries currently active.

“With the increased acceptance of marijuana use both as a medication and recreationally, physicians and surgeons are being asked more and more about its use. There are some data that marijuana may have some effects in relieving chronic pain and may reduce the need for opioid medication in that patient population. There are no data to support the use of marijuana to treat acute or postoperative pain,” Weaver told Healio.com/Orthopedics. “Despite the lack of empiric evidence, many patients believe that marijuana is a useful pain medication. Surgeons should be prepared to discuss marijuana use with their patients. In our study of orthopedic trauma patients, over 40% reported some history of marijuana use in the past, and a little over 10% of patients reported using marijuana within the last year or during the recovery of their injury. Those patients that do report using marijuana believe it reduces their need for opioid pain medications.” – by Casey Tingle


Disclosure: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.