CBD tablet shows promise as new post-surgery pain reliever

NEW YORK — CBD, or the second most prevalent active ingredient found in marijuana, has exploded in popularity in recent years. Its supporters claim CBD can help ease stress, improve sleep, and even relieve pain. While the validity of such claims is still largely up for debate, a new study by New York University researchers finds a new pill containing CBD does reduce post-surgery shoulder pain. Even better, scientists encountered no safety concerns associated with the tablet.

More specifically, researchers from the Department of Orthopedic Surgery at NYU Langone Health found that the ORAVEXXTM  tablet safely managed patient pain following minimally invasive rotator cuff surgery. Moreover, none of the patients taking the tablet experienced the typical side-effects of CBD use, such as nausea, anxiety, and liver toxicity.

“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.”

CBD lowered post-operative pain by a quarter

A total of 99 patients (ages 18-75) across two medical locations, NYU Langone Health and Baptist Health/Jacksonville Orthopaedic Institute, were randomly assigned to either a placebo group or a CBD-tablet group. To start, study authors prescribed a low dose of Percocet to patients in both groups following surgery. The patients then had to wean themselves off the opioid as quickly as possible and take the placebo or CBD three times per day for two weeks.

On the very first day after surgery, those given actual CBD tablets experienced 23 percent less pain on average (per the Visual Analog Scale pain score) than others taking a placebo. Study authors say this strongly suggests that CBD offers significant benefits for patients with moderate pain. On both the first and second days post-surgery, patients taking the CBD tablets reported 22 to 25 percent more satisfaction with their pain control in comparison to the placebo group.

Notably, further research also found patients receiving 50 mg of CBD reported less pain, more pain control satisfaction, and no significant side-effects. This work is no doubt promising, but even study authors caution against running off to your nearest CBD dispensary.

“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.

ORAVEXX™, the buccally absorbed tablet analyzed in this study, was specially designed as a non-addictive, fast-absorbing CBD pain treatment. Moving forward, NYU scientists are already planning another study to assess if the CBD tablet can specifically treat chronic pain in patients with osteoarthritis.

The team presented their findings at the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeon’s (AAOS) 2022 Annual Meeting in Chicago.

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