Buccally Absorbed Cannabidiol Shows Significantly Superior Pain Control and Improved Satisfaction Immediately After Arthroscopic Rotator Cuff Repair: A Placebo-Controlled, Double-Blinded, Randomized Trial

Am J Sports Med. 2022 Sep;50(11):3056-3063. doi: 10.1177/03635465221109573. Epub 2022 Jul 29.


Background: Despite the widespread use and sales of cannabidiol (CBD) products in the United States, there is a paucity of literature to evaluate its effectiveness, safety, or ideal route of administration for postoperative pain.

Purpose: To evaluate the potential analgesic effects of buccally absorbed CBD in patients who have undergone arthroscopic rotator cuff repair (ARCR).

Study design: Randomized controlled trial; Level of evidence, 1.

Methods: This was a US Food and Drug Administration-sanctioned, multicenter, placebo-controlled, randomized, double-blinded trial conducted in patients undergoing ARCR. Patients aged from 18 to 75 years undergoing ARCR were prospectively enrolled and randomized to the control and experimental groups. The experimental group received an oral, buccally absorbed tablet containing 25 mg of CBD 3 times a day if <80 kg, or 50 mg of CBD 3 times a day if >80 kg, for 14 days postoperatively, while the control group received an identical placebo. Patients were followed up on days 1, 2, 7, and 14, and visual analog scale (VAS) for pain scores, opioid consumption, and satisfaction with pain control were recorded. Additionally, liver function tests were conducted on days 7 and 14 to assess safety, and nausea was monitored. P < .05 was considered to be statistically significant.

Results: Overall, 100 patients were recruited, with 1 patient being excluded, for a total of 99 patients. There were no significant differences in patient demographics between the 2 groups. On day 1, the VAS pain score was significantly lower in the CBD group than in the control group (4.4 ± 3.1 vs 5.7 ± 3.2, respectively; P = .04), although this difference was no longer present on day 2 (4.7 ± 2.8 vs 5.3 ± 2.6, respectively; P = .32). On both days 1 and 2, patient satisfaction with pain control was significantly higher in the CBD group than in the control group (day 1: 7.0 ± 3.0 vs 5.6 ± 3.7, respectively [P = .04]; day 2: 7.3 ± 2.5 vs 6.0 ± 3.3, respectively [P = .03]). The quantity of opioids consumed was low in both groups, and there were no statistically significant differences in opioid consumption (P > .05). On days 7 and 14, there were no statistically significant differences in VAS scores, opioid consumption, or patient satisfaction with pain control between the CBD and control groups (P > .05 for all). There were no significant differences in liver function test results postoperatively (P > .05).

Conclusion: Buccally absorbed CBD demonstrated an acceptable safety profile and showed significant promise in the reduction of pain in the immediate perioperative period after ARCR compared with the control. Further studies are currently ongoing to confirm dosing and effectiveness in other orthopaedic conditions.

Registration: NCT04672252 (ClinicalTrials.gov identifier).

Keywords: CBD; cannabidiol; postoperative pain; rotator cuff repair; shoulder arthroscopic surgery.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Analgesics, Opioid / therapeutic use
  • Arthroscopy / adverse effects
  • Arthroscopy / methods
  • Cannabidiol* / therapeutic use
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Humans
  • Pain, Postoperative / drug therapy
  • Pain, Postoperative / prevention & control
  • Personal Satisfaction
  • Rotator Cuff / surgery
  • Rotator Cuff Injuries* / drug therapy
  • Rotator Cuff Injuries* / surgery
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Analgesics, Opioid
  • Cannabidiol

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT04672252