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Medical cannabis certification patterns for chronic pain

In light of the national opioid crisis, a recent study by researchers at the Rothman Orthopaedic Institute and its Department of Medical Cannabis explores the use of medical cannabis as a potential alternative for chronic pain management.

The study, co-authored by Dr. Asif Ilyas, President of the Rothman Opioid Foundation in Philadelphia, professor of orthopaedic surgery at Thomas Jefferson University, and associate dean of clinical research at the Drexel University College of Medicine, specifically investigated which orthopedic conditions drive patients to seek medical cannabis certification in Pennsylvania. Interestingly, women were more likely to pursue medical cannabis certification than men, reflecting broader trends in chronic pain studies. Researchers focused on patients with chronic musculoskeletal non-cancer pain, a common source of chronic pain often treated with opioids.

The research involved 78 patients who underwent the state certification process for medical cannabis. Findings revealed a significant prevalence of medical cannabis use for spinal conditions, notably lower back pain (56% of participants) and cervical spine pain (21%). This aligns with the study's focus on musculoskeletal pain, where spinal issues are a significant source of discomfort.

Beyond specific conditions, the study utilized the Patient-Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System (PROMIS) to assess patients' quality of life. The results demonstrated that the medical cannabis-seeking cohort had significantly lower scores in Global Physical Health and Global Mental Health than the general U.S. population. This data highlights the considerable impact chronic pain has on overall well-being.

The study's findings contribute to the growing body of evidence suggesting medical cannabis may be a viable alternative for pain management. This offers potential relief while mitigating concerns about opioid misuse. The authors call for further research to explore the long-term effects of medical cannabis on pain control and quality of life, particularly its potential role in reducing reliance on opioids for chronic pain management.

The study, "Understanding the Orthopedic Conditions for Which Patients Are Seeking Medical Cannabis Certification,” appeared in Cureus on January 23, 2024. It is found here:

Source: News Release
The Rothman Orthopaedic Institute Foundation for Opioid Research and Education
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