CBD could have value as a post-surgery pain management medication, according to new research from the New York University.
Cannabidiol, most commonly referred to as CBD, is an active component naturally present in marijuana. It is the second most abundant active ingredient found in the plant and has been the subject of increasing public and scientific interest in the few years.
Despite the known and legitimate uses for this compound, there are also a lot of unfounded claims about alleged benefits and possible uses that have not been demonstrated yet. But a new paper from the New York University (NYU) comes to shed light on one thing the compound can do — and do well. According to the findings, pills laden with CBD can help reduce post-surgery shoulder pain.
Even better, the study finds no safety concerns associated with the compound when used for this role.
One less pain in the shoulder
“There is an urgent need for viable alternatives for pain management, and our study presents this form of CBD as a promising tool after arthroscopic rotator cuff repair,” says lead investigator Michael J. Alaia, MD, associate professor in the Department of Orthopedic Surgery at NYU Langone Health, in a media release.
“It could be a new, inexpensive approach for delivering pain relief, and without the side effects of anti-inflammatory drugs like NSAIDs and addiction risks linked to opiates. Additionally, CBD has the benefit of pain relief without the psychotropic effects associated with THC or marijuana.”
The study was carried out by researchers at the Department of Orthopedic Surgery at NYU Langone Health using a pill named ORAVEXXTM. This tablet was designed specifically to be used as a non-addictive, fast-absorbing oral CBD pain treatment option.
It found that the tablet can safely be used to manage pain following a minimally-invasive shoulder surgery procedure, namely rotator cuff surgery.
A total of 99 patients aged 18-75 from two medical locations — NYU Langone Health and Baptist Health and the Jacksonville Orthopaedic Institute — were part of the study. They were all given a low dose of Percocet following their surgery, and then randomly assigned to receive either a placebo or the CBD-containing tablet. After waiting for the effects of the opiate Percocet to wear off, each patient took their assigned tablets three times per day for two weeks. Throughout this time, the patients were asked to self-report the levels of pain they were experiencing using the Visual Analog Scale pain score.
Even on the first day of the experiment, the patients in the CBD group experienced, on average, 23% less pain than those in the placebo group. On the first and second day, the CBD patients also reported 22% and 25% more satisfaction with their pain control compared to the placebo group.
Over the following days, patients receiving 50 mg of CBD routinely reported less pain and more satisfaction with their pain control compared to those in the control group. As a bonus, none of the patients in the experimental group experienced any of the typical side effects associated with CBD use such as nausea, anxiety, and liver toxicity.
Despite all this encouraging data pointing to CBD oils and other products as being a viable alternative for the management of pain, the team cautions against self-medicating with CBD to obtain the same results. There is still much we don’t understand about the way CBD acts on pain perception, and until researchers can patch these holes in our understanding, it’s best to be cautious.
“Our study is examining a well-designed, carefully scrutinized product under an investigational new drug application sanctioned by the FDA. This is currently still experimental medicine and is not yet available for prescription,” Dr. Alaia explains.
The team is already setting up another study to verify if this tablet could have promise as a long-term treatment against chronic pain in patients with osteoarthritis, a condition infamous for being very painful.
The findings were presented at the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeon’s (AAOS) 2022 Annual Meeting in Chicago.