Cannabis May Be Better For Back Pain Sufferers Than Opiates


Whatever its cause, it’s no fun to live with back pain. Studies have shown that back pain is most likely the leading cause of disability in the world, and the top cause of lost work days in the US.

Many of the current treatments available don’t do people much good, either. Opioids are often prescribed for back pain, But as tolerance increases, so too do effective doses. Opioid-based painkillers can even increase chronic pain over time.

For many back pain sufferers, a safe alternative to opioid and narcotic painkillers has been found in cannabis.

Patients in Canada who find movement difficult may find that mail order cannabis in particular is the right answer. In the USA, patients will need to live in a state that that permits either medical or recreational cannabis. Fortunately, more and states are voting to legalize cannabis.

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In the case of back pain specifically, Cannabis may not just be safer than narcotics, it may also be more effective. Small wonder that baby boomers are turning to cannabis instead of prescription drugs.

A recent study by the University of Colorado Spine Center evaluated the potential benefit of medical cannabis, for patients who suffered from a spectrum of back problems, from muscular issues to problems with disc degeneration. The results of the study were extremely promising.

  • Nearly 90% of the patients who used medical cannabis reported a significant reduction in the pain they experienced
  • Over 80% of them considered the effects of cannabis to be equal to or greater than those of narcotic opioid painkillers

In addition to acting directly as an analgesic, cannabis helps reduce spasms, a common cause of back pain.

The anti-spastic properties of cannabis are still being studied, but it has shown some promise in the treatment of spasticity (and patients’ experiences of it) in MS patients. This suggests that it could be a good option for people suffering from more common muscle spasms and tension, too. In particular, the cannabinoid CBD is becoming recognized for its therapeutic effects on the muscular and nervous system – most famously as a treatment for child epilepsy.

Both THC and CBD have demonstrated success at reducing inflammation related to a variety of conditions beyond back pain, as well.

Studies have found that THC can slow the development of atherosclerosis and mitigate airway inflammation cause by the flu. CBD has been demonstrated to reduce joint inflammation and edema. Cannabis has been shown to provide relief for Crohn’s disease sufferers, by reducing digestive inflammation – in some cases, entirely.

Because of the different ways that cannabis can act on back pain, choosing the right cannabis strains for back pain depends on the kind of back pain you’re suffering from:

  • For back pain due to injury or illness, choose a strain that is high in both THC and CBD, so that you can treat your pain directly with the cannabinoids’ analgesic effects. One such strain is White Widow.
  • For back pain due to muscular tension, stress, or anxiety, consider choosing a strain that is high in CBD and low in THC. This will allow you to treat the source of your back pain directly.  While THC has excellent analgesic effects, its psychoactive “high” may not be ideal for anxiety-related tension. The calming, relaxing effects of CBD are much more appropriate. CBD Rene is a strain that boast a 16:1 CBD to THC ratio – perfect for people who are mainly interested in CBD.

Whatever the cause of your back pain, cannabis may be a safe, natural alternative to narcotic opioids. If your back pain is due to postural issues, consider doing exercises to establish proper spine curvature. And feel better soon.

Photo credit: Keoni Cabral via / CC BY

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