Healing with Cannabis: Managing Post-Operative Pain

February 2017, I tore my ACL doing a crazy flip off a huge cliff, and by huge cliff I mean tiny little jump with no flips involved. Unfortunately, whiteout conditions on the mountain led me to misjudge the landing of the tiny jump, resulting in a hyperextended knee. I suspected having your knee bend backwards was abnormal, and I was right.

After seeing a bunch of doctors and going to physiotherapy for a lengthy time, I elected to have an operation to reconstruct my torn ACL. Fast forward to March 8th, 2018, I had the operation. Like anyone going for an operation you consider how you’ll manage post-operative pain, knowing cannabis can be used for pain I was committed to use only cannabis to manage mine. Main reason for this choice was to limit the opioid based painkillers as they wreak havoc on your digestion not to mention they are highly addictive. So, cannabis it is, or that’s what I thought at least.

snowboarding

While driving home from the hospital I was still high from the anesthesia from the operation, but thought it was a good time to have an edible with THC that I had made with my cannabis oil, this is a powerful dose for me given my experiences. The anesthesia wore off and the cannabis cookie I ate was in full swing. To my surprise the cannabis was not effective with managing the pain. I could feel the screws anchoring the graft in my bone, which was unpleasant I can assure you. At this point I am in extreme pain and super high from the cookie. As the hours passed by, the pain got worse and the cannabis was not doing much to curb that. I couldn’t continue just using cannabis, so with regret I took the Percocet prescribed by the surgeon. I felt like I let myself down, but the pain was too much and I’m not a hero. Now with both cannabis and opioids in my system the pain slipped away, and so did reality - I felt like I was having an out of body experience, literally. I was laying on the couch, but I could have been on Pluto for all I know. The combination of the 2 drugs seemed to really amplify the intoxicating effects of both.

I used Percocet’s for 2 days and had a total of 7 pills, after this point the pain became manageable with using just cannabis. I applied cannabis topicals on my sore muscles, ingested CBD tincture oil to reduce inflammation and ate cannabis edibles to manage pain. The cannabis topical worked extremely well to reduce the pain and cramping I was experiencing in the muscles surrounding the surgery site. The CBD oil also was effective in reducing swelling throughout my body, and the edible was great to manage pain and made me feel super nice and happy.

Opioids for pain management

Four weeks after from my operation, I saw the physio therapist for my first post-operative assessment. He ran a few tests and it turns out I am well ahead of normal recovery time. Typical range of motion at this point of recovery is 90 degrees and I am at 120 degrees. I truly believe the cannabis topicals and oils helped with inflammation and localized pain so that I was able to start stretching at an earlier point which has sped up my recovery.

I realize that opioids do have a place for managing pain, really nothing works as well for pain management in humans like opioids. However, cannabis can be used to compliment recovery and pain management from surgical operations. Depending on the severity of one’s pain, I do think cannabis is a great alternative. Both have a place for post-operative pain management, and together can make for a powerful pain-relieving combination. In my personal experience, using cannabis as my main post-operative medicine has led to a fast recovery as it has many medicinal attributes. From pain management to working as an anti-inflammatory, both are key to recovery. I have a long road ahead as total recovery time is up to 12 months for an ACL reconstruction, and cannabis will continue to be part of my regiment and hopefully lead to a shortened recovery period. So next time you blow out your knee doing something crazy cool, or super lame like me, cannabis products like topicals, oils, and edibles can be used to get back on your feet.

- Dan Laferriere, Co-Founder & CEO