Arthritis study finds 300% increase in cannabis use amongst rheumatic disorder patients

August 17, 2021

A study published in the medical journal Arthritis Care & Research has shown the number of rheumatic disease patients who report using cannabis in the US has tripled, from 6 percent in 2014 to 18 percent in 2019. 

There is evidence suggesting cannabis has been used for thousands of years to help ease aches and pains, with cannabis based medicines having a renaissance in much of the western world. Governments have become more lenient towards their approach to the medicinal use of cannabis, and are even allowing recreational use to flourish in many countries, including 36 states in the USA. Patients and health providers alike are beginning to unlock the therapeutic and medicinal qualities of cannabis, and as we have reported previously at leafie, more and more patients with rheumatic disorders such as arthritis are using it to treat their joint pain, inflammation, and to ease their stiffness.

More than 11,000 patients took part in the study, which utilised the US patient-reported research bank for rheumatic disorders, named FORWARD. Most patients who reported using cannabis based medicinal products (CBMPs) lived in states where some level of legislation had taken place.

The study found that the patients who used CBMPs were more likely to suffer from more acute levels of symptom complaints, such as higher levels of anxiety and depression, more severe sleep problems, and higher levels of pain and fatigue.

Patients were also more likely to use CBMPs if they were prescribed opioids considered to be weaker such as tramadol, codeine or hydrocodone, as opposed to stronger opioids such as morphine, fentanyl and oxycontin. 

“This suggests that patients with rheumatic diseases who try cannabis are those who are feeling worse, and that their pain management needs may not be adequately addressed by other therapies,” the study authors wrote. “We anticipate that interest in and use of cannabis among patients with rheumatic diseases will continue to expand as laws change, cannabis availability increases, and research in this area advances.”





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