Study: Marijuana Consumers Use Fewer Opioids Following Neck Fusion Surgery

According to a new study marijuana consumers who undergo a neck fusion surgery use fewer opioids following than surgery than those who don’t use marijuana.

For the study, published in the North American Spine Society Journal, researchers with the University of Connecticut School of Medicine examined opiod use following neck fusion surgery in over 2,600 patients with and without a history of using marijuana. Participants were monitored for 60 days following anterior cervical discectomy and fusion surgery.

Researchers found that not only were marijuana consumers less likely to immediately fill their opioid prescription, they were also considerably less likely to be using them at the 60 day mark.

“A total of 1,339 patients were included in each group. The number of patients filling prescriptions was lower in the cannabis group than in the control group at 3 days postoperatively (p<.001)”, states the study. “The average total MME per day as prescribed was lower in the cannabis group than the control group at 60 days post-op (48.5 vs. 59.4, respectively; p=.018).”

Researchers note that the “50 MME threshold is important as studies have suggested that opioid doses above 50 MME per day are significantly associated with an increased risk of opioid related death and/or hospitalization. This suggests that patients using cannabis may be at a reduced risk of opioid dependence than nonusers.”

The study concludes:

Patients who had a previous diagnosis of cannabis use, dependence or abuse filled fewer opioid prescriptions postoperatively (at 3 days postoperatively) and required lower doses (reduced average daily MME, at 60 days postoperatively) when compared with the control group.

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