Medical marijuana alleviates pain in older patients
Medical marijuana decreased pain and reduced analgesic use in older patients, according to findings presented at the American Geriatrics Society annual meeting.
“Chronic pain is a condition that warrants the use of opioids in many cases. If we can decrease the use of opioids with a substance that is less addictive and has minimal side effects, it will positively affect the medical field and society,” Pauline Agornyo, MD, of Northwell Health in Manhasset New York, told Healio Family Medicine.
Agornyo and colleagues collected surveys from 138 patients with a median age of 61 years to 70 years through two medical marijuana dispensaries.
Researchers found that after the patients had used a cannabis-based product for 1 month, pain scores dropped from 9 to 5.6 and medication side effects impacting daily activities dropped from 6.9 to 3.5 on a scale of 0 to 10.
Also, after taking the cannabis product for 1 month, 27% of patients discontinued other pain medications completely, 20% of patients reported an “extreme decrease” in pain medication use and 18% of patients reported a “moderate decrease” in pain medication use. The most commonly used cannabis-based product was vaporized oil, used by 45% of respondents. More than a third of all respondents used their cannabis-based product of choice more than twice a day (39%).
“Older adults tend to have more of an aversion toward the use of medical marijuana, so these findings were surprising,” Agornyo said in the interview. “Primary care physicians in states where medical marijuana has been legalized should present it as an option to qualifying patients who have not gained sufficient pain relief from their current pain medication regimen.”
She also suggested larger, randomized, long-term studies be performed to ascertain the most effective applications and long-term outcomes of medical marijuana use, and could also lead to the development of more standardized dosing guidelines. – by Janel Miller
Agornyo P, et al. Older adults’ use of medical marijuana for chronic pain: A multi-site community-based survey. Presented at: American Geriatrics Society Annual Meeting; May 3-5, 2018; Orlando, Florida.
Disclosures: Healio Family Medicine was unable to determine authors’ relevant financial disclosures prior to publication.