DEC 05, 2022 8:00 AM PST

Cannabis Users Experience More Post-Surgery Pain than Non-Users

WRITTEN BY: Kerry Charron

A recent study provides insights into post-surgery pain management outcomes. The study found that cannabis users experience more post-surgical pain and consequently higher opioid consumption than non-cannabis users. The researchers presented their findings at the 2022 annual meeting of the American Society of Anesthesiologists

The team analyzed the records of 34,521 adult patients. 1,681 of the patients identified as cannabis users and had elective surgeries at Cleveland Clinic from January 2010 to December 2020. These 1,681 patients had consumed cannabis within 30 days before surgery, while the majority of patients in the sample had never used cannabis. The study did not include patients with chronic pain diagnosis or those who received regional anesthesia. Lead author Dr. Elyad Ekrami explained the methodology involved in sample selection. According to Ekrami, “the study groups were balanced by confounding factors including age, sex, tobacco and other illicit drug use, as well as depression and psychological disorders.” Using a larger sample size and this study group sample selection approach contributed to more nuanced insights into managing pain.  

Cannabis-consuming patients experienced 14% more pain during the first 24 hours after surgery compared to the patients who never consumed cannabis. The study also found that patients who used cannabis consumed 7% more opioids after surgery. The researchers emphasized this rate is not statistically significant, but potentially clinically relevant. 

This study provides a valuable basis for further research on cannabis’ effects on surgical outcomes. Many physicians recommend stopping or limiting cannabis use a month before surgery. The researchers suggested that physicians use a multimodal approach to post-surgical pain control knowing that cannabis users may experience more discomfort and require slightly higher opioid amounts than non-using surgery patients.

Sources: American Society of Anesthesiologists, Eureka News Alert


About the Author
Bachelor's (BA/BS/Other)
Kerry Charron writes about medical cannabis research. She has experience working in a Florida cultivation center and has participated in advocacy efforts for medical cannabis.
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