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Patient Perceptions of the Use of Medical Marijuana in the Treatment of Pain After Musculoskeletal Trauma: A Survey of Patients at 2 Trauma Centers in Massachusetts

Heng, Marilyn MD, MPH, FRCSC*; McTague, Michael F. MPH; Lucas, Robert C. BA*; Harris, Mitchel B. MD; Vrahas, Mark S. MD; Weaver, Michael J. MD

doi: 10.1097/BOT.0000000000001002
Original Article

Objective: To evaluate musculoskeletal trauma patients' beliefs regarding the usefulness of marijuana as a valid medical treatment for postinjury and postoperative pain and anxiety.

Design: Prospective survey.

Setting: Two academic Level 1 trauma centers.

Patients/Participants: Five hundred patients in an orthopedic outpatient clinic.

Intervention: Survey.

Main Outcome Measurements: (1) Do patients believe that marijuana can be used as medicine? (2) Do patients believe that marijuana can help treat postinjury pain? (3) Are patients comfortable speaking with their health care providers about medical marijuana?

Results: The majority of patients felt that marijuana could be used to treat pain (78%, 390) and anxiety (62%, 309). Most patients (60%, 302) had used marijuana at least once previously, whereas only 14% reported using marijuana after their injury. Of those who used marijuana during their recovery, 90% (63/70) believed that it reduced symptoms of pain, and 81% (57/70) believed that it reduced the amount of opioid pain medication they used.

Conclusions: The majority of patients in this study believed that medical marijuana is a valid treatment and that it does have a role in reducing postinjury and postoperative pain. Those patients who used marijuana during their recovery felt that it alleviated symptoms of pain and reduced their opioid intake. Our results help inform clinicians regarding the perceptions of patients with trauma regarding the usefulness of marijuana in treating pain and support further study into the utility of medical marijuana in this population.

*Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Harvard Medical School Orthopedic Trauma Initiative, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA;

Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Harvard Medical School Orthopedic Trauma Initiative, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, MA; and

Cedars Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles, CA.

Reprints: Michael J. Weaver, MD, 75 Francis St, Boston, MA 02115 (e-mail: mjweaver@partners.org).

The authors report no conflict of interest.

Presented as a poster at the Annual Meeting of the Orthopedic Trauma Association, October 2016, National Harbor, MD.

Supplemental digital content is available for this article. Direct URL citations appear in the printed text and are provided in the HTML and PDF versions of this article on the journal's Web site (www.jorthotrauma.com).

Accepted August 07, 2017

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