Cannabis Users Experience More Pain After Surgery

Cannabis Vape Pens and Flower

According to new reseaarch, cannabis use increases pain after surgery.

Adults who use cannabis experience more pain after surgery compared to people who don’t use cannabis. This is according to a scientific study presented at the ANESTHESIOLOGY® 2022 annual meeting.

“Cannabis is the most commonly used illicit drug in the United States and increasingly used as an alternative treatment for chronic pain, but there is limited data that shows how it affects patient outcomes after surgery,” said lead author of the study, Elyad Ekrami, M.D. “Our study shows that adults who use cannabis are having more — not less — postoperative pain. Consequently, they have higher opioid consumption after surgery.” Ekrami is a clinical research fellow of the Outcomes Research Department at Cleveland Clinic’s Anesthesiology Institute.

“Physicians should consider that patients using cannabis may have more pain and require slightly higher doses of opioids after surgery.” — Elyad Ekrami, M.D.

Researchers analyzed the records of 34,521 adult patients who had elective surgeries at Cleveland Clinic from January 2010 to December 2020. 1,681 (5%) of the participants were cannabis users. The cannabis users had used the drug within 30 days before surgery, while the other patients had never used cannabis. The patients who used cannabis experienced 14% more pain during the first 24 hours after surgery compared to the patients who never used cannabis. Additionally, patients who used cannabis consumed 7% more opioids after surgery, which the authors note was not statistically significant, but is likely clinically relevant.

“The association between cannabis use, pain scores, and opioid consumption has been reported before in smaller studies, but they’ve had conflicting results,” Dr. Ekrami added. “Our study has a much larger sample size and does not include patients with chronic pain diagnosis or those who received regional anesthesia, which would have seriously conflicted our results. Furthermore, our study groups were balanced by confounding factors including age, sex, tobacco, and other illicit drug use, as well as depression and psychological disorders.”

Dr. Ekrami noted that additional research is needed to further define cannabis’ effects on surgical outcomes. “Physicians should consider that patients using cannabis may have more pain and require slightly higher doses of opioids after surgery, emphasizing the need to continue exploring a multimodal approach to post-surgical pain control,” he said.

20 Comments on "Cannabis Users Experience More Pain After Surgery"

  1. & what about alcohol and/or tobacco users? They are healthier than Cannabis users (or worse)?

  2. How many were left handed? Or red headed? Or any number of other real or imagined variables? In something as nebulous and notoriously imprecise as pain measurement this study would seem to be worthless.

  3. No source listed?
    Reference to “more opioids”..
    This is an editorial, opinion. Shame on you.

  4. A study needs to be made looking at pain scores among cannabis users WITHOUT opioid use.
    Thc and cbd affect the absorbtion of opiates. Therefore, people on opiates without cannabis would have better pain scores.
    But opiates kill. Therefore, pain treatment with cannabis use only is safer. Other studies indicate a reduction in opoid deaths among cannabis users.

  5. In a state where recreational cannabis is illegal, how do they know the cannabis users also did not use black market opiods? Did they just ask or did they test? The data does not seem to be good data.

  6. I call BS. I have had a number of surgeries in my life, and I have used cannabis for decades. I have almost always skipped the opioid “prescriptions” and just used cannabis, and I found and still find the pain moderation is excellent. This is a BS “study”, and I doubt it will be taken seriously.

  7. as a medical marijuana smoker I must say it was opposite for me had back surgery before the surgery my medical marijuana didn’t help me much with pain.aftwr surgery it took the edge off I was prescribed opioids for the pain and after I used the 30 day supply it actually lasted for two months I was still in pain but the medical marijuana was enough to were I didn’t need the opioids any longer.

  8. Yep, bs. I’ve had 2 surgery w/o weed and 2 with. I can say the 2 with weed were much quicker recoveries even though I was older. And c’mon…7% from one study…hard pass.

  9. shijsckmurin

  10. I broke 8 ribs. As soon as I got home from the hospital and had access to cannabis, I was able to reduce from 4 pain pills/day to 1, then none after the second day at home. Smoked three or four joints/day instead. Learned how to control my cough reflex. LOL. Meds caused nausea, constipation and scalp lesions — was glad to get off them. … Anecdotal, proves nothing I suppose, but perhaps analysis of the study’s data was influenced by the confirmation bias of an institutional researcher?

    The study’s author admits that the finding of 7% higher opioid use by cannabis patients is statistically insignificant but claims, anyway, that “[o]ur study shows … they have higher opioid consumption after surgery.” Huh? I wonder who funded this exercise in fun with numbers?

  11. I feel that if the individual was medicating for chronic pain, then went for a inpatient procedure and was not able to continue the mj medication for previous pain,then yes , obviously the opioid consumption would be higher to cover the previous pain, and new procedure pain, dah..

  12. The article says that there is not enough evidence to support the article statement. More false narrative!

  13. As a long time user of cannibis I used it after a knee replacement which is notoriousy painful. I did not need opioids, it did the trick and got me through so for me your analysis is totally bogus

  14. “illicit” ?

  15. This, and similar articles, offends me on so many levels. First, were patients offered cannabis, in any of it’s MANY forms, in the hospital as a form of pain medication? If they want to compare the effectiveness of opioids to THC then why not do it fairly, hmm? Not just say how much more opioids a cannabis user needs after surgery. Did they ask the cannabis users which they preferred or even give them a choice? This was designed to make marijuana and those who use it look bad. I’m not buying these results.

  16. This is just some peckerhead’s bias opinion against weed.

  17. False information like this does nothing but fuel the stigma that exists concerning Marijuana usage. It’s shameful this is still happening. We are fighting for legalization in Arkansas, and this is the kind of absolute crap that our State government is trying to feed the citizens to get them to vote against it.

  18. If they took a look at the genetics of these patients chances are they would find the cannabis users have pharmacogenetic differences. If you have pain syndromes and are using marihuana then it’s due to pharmacogenetic differences not an effect of the drug.

  19. Yeah I agree heroin,other opioids.barbituites are all stronger but all are addictive. Pot doesn’t relieve pain but it distracts you from the pain. To truly feel pain you’ve got focus on it.pain pills opioids all completely mask pain and dope you up making you move around more than you should and then when the pain comes back it is worse.And the medical industry makes no money off pot or cause withdrawal when you try to stop using them. I am speaking from personal experience.broken bones,Testicle tube hernia with a shark membrane patch. 12 surgeries on my eyes and face.they don’t put you out right away in eye surgeries like they do in other operations.It’s amazing how many people get addicted on drugs they were introduced to by their concerned doctors.
    Next folks will ll be saying it’s a sin according to them.

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