Cannabis For Joint Surgery: Here’s What a Study Found

Written by Lydia Kariuki

Close to 1 million total joint arthroplasty (joint replacement) surgeries are conducted in the US each year, and the figure is expected to hit 4 million by 2030. Common complications following this type of surgery include pain, blood clots, joint infection, and unexpected bleeding into the joint. Such complications often result in prolonged hospital stays or subsequent readmissions after discharge which can be costly for the patient while at the same time putting a significant strain on medical resources. A new study has challenged conventional thinking by suggesting that cannabis use improves postoperative recovery following joint surgery.

Details of the Study

A group of researchers conducted a retrospective cohort study to investigate postoperative outcomes of patients with cannabis use disorder (CUD) following a primary joint arthroplasty (TJA) surgery. They used data from the National Inpatient Sample of patients that was collected between 2006 to 2015. The total number of TJA cases that were included in the study was 8,740,798 with younger male patients having a higher incidence of CUD. Overall, the researchers found that patients with CUD had a significantly shorter hospitalization after surgery and had greater odds of getting a home discharge as opposed to a rehab discharge. In addition, there was no significant difference in the complication profile between the two groups. The results of the study were published in Arthroplasty in Feb 2023.

Is CUD “Just What The Doctor Ordered” For TJA?

Hold the horse! In as much as this study has suggested potential benefits of CUD, the researchers acknowledged some potential biases. For example, Patients with CUD are inherently motivated to shorten their hospital stay after surgery and return home where they can continue with their use/ abuse of cannabis as well as other potentially harmful substances. With this in mind, more research is needed to better elucidate the relationship between cannabis use disorder and recovery after joint surgery.

About the author

Lydia Kariuki