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Growing Cannabis Use in Arthritis Patients

Jul 21, 2021 5:03 pm

The National Databank for Rheumatic Diseases reports a significant increased in cannabis use amongst arthritis patients between 2014-2019, suggesting patients are more frequently engaged in self-management of pain and the unmet need for a pain relieving, opioid-sparing alternative.

A study of 11,006 arthritis patients in the National Databank for Rheumatic Diseases asked in 2014 and 2019 about their past and current cannabis use. The cohort included patients with RA 65%, OA (16%), fibromyalgia (6%), SLE (5%), PsA (2%), and AS (1%).

During this period, respondent use of cannabis rose from 6.3% in 2014 to 18.4% in 2019, especially in states where cannabis use is legal. Cannibis was helpful in 74%, 8% reported that it was not helpful and 18% were uncertain.

The majority (74% in 2014; 62% in 2019) used cannabis for effective for relief of arthritis symptoms. Such users were more likely to be taking weak opioids (OR 1.2), have a history of smoking tobacco (OR 1.7) and had worse measures on all assessed PROs. Cannibis uses tended to be younger. While all diagnoses seemed to benefit from using, those with PsA appeared to benefit less (compare to OA patients).

These findings underscore the challenge of pain management in patients with arthritis. Guidelines for the effective and safe use of cannabis are sorely needed. 

The author has no conflicts of interest to disclose related to this subject

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