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Can Medical Marijuana Be Used as an Effective Treatment for Back Pain?

by Angel Ferrer 4 min read

Can Medical Marijuana Be Used as an Effective Treatment for Back Pain?

Back Pain Treatment From Smoking Marijuana

Back pain is a common ailment plaguing millions of individuals worldwide. How widespread? According to the American Chiropractic Association, 80% of individuals will experience back pain at some point in their lives.

Worse yet, back pain is the single leading cause of disability worldwide, and accounts for 264 million lost work days each and every year, and costs the American population $50 billion in healthcare costs each year.

If those facts aren’t alarming enough, the pain in your back might be.

Limited Treatment Options

While treatments such as chiropractic, physical therapy, massage, and homeopathic remedies may help to temporarily resolve the issue or reduce pain for some individuals, others are not so lucky.

Back pain isn’t always easy to treat, leaving many Americans suffering from chronic back pain that can only be resolved with addictive opioids or risky surgery.

Recent studies have shown that medical marijuana is growing in popularity based on its effectiveness as an alternative treatment for chronic back pain. A WebMD analysis found that over 540 million people worldwide suffer from low back pain. But back pain is not restricted to just the lower back area. A vast majority of the population also suffers from upper back pain and/or side pain.

Disability cases due to back pain have been on the rise since the 1990s. And, even though most back pain will be fleeting for some people, others will suffer from chronic and persistent back pain for much of their lives.

Medical marijuana is increasingly being recognized and recommended by health care/medical professionals as being a highly effective treatment in the war against chronic back pain. In fact, since 2016, the state of New York allows patients with chronic back pain to have access to its medical marijuana program. Data from the World Health Organization states that 147 million people throughout the world use cannabis. That number is expected to increase exponentially now that marijuana has been found to relieve chronic back pain.

Causes of Back Pain

Back pain lasting for less than six months is considered acute, while back pain lasting for three months or more is considered to be chronic. The most common type of back pain is defined as mechanical back pain, or pain that is not related to any grave underlying conditions and does not involve trapped or compressed nerves.

Stress, aging, bad posture, and normal everyday wear and tear cause mechanical back pain, while chronic back pain is caused by more serious issues including trapped nerves and slipped discs. Chronic back pain is commonly caused by slips and falls, trips, and sports-related injuries. Sciatica, which causes shooting pain that runs down into one or both legs, is a common chronic back issue. But other conditions such as osteoporosis and arthritis can also be linked to chronic back pain. While surgery is considered to be a last resort, it is sometimes medically warranted regardless of whether you treat the pain with medical marijuana.

The Benefits of Medical Marijuana for Back Pain

Marijuana has been used throughout history as a remedy for a wide array of conditions. Millions of regular cannabis users will attest to the plant’s pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory properties. And now, with the rise in cannabis legalization, more studies have been done to support marijuana’s effectiveness as a medical treatment for many chronic and acute conditions, including back pain. In light of this evidence, an increasing number of doctors are prescribing marijuana to their patients over the manufactured medicine of Big Pharma.

The key to the effectiveness of marijuana lies in its cannabinoids. Both TCH and CBD play a critical role in how marijuana is taken in by the body’s systems. THC, the psychoactive element of marijuana, boosts moods and energizes, which brings on feelings of bliss and happiness. Therefore, those struggling with back pain-related depression will benefit from THC’s positive properties.

Likewise, CBD oil, which is not psychoactive, relieves physical pain and discomfort. And when THC and CBD work together, they achieve a synergy known as the entourage effect, which successfully alleviates pain and inflammation while increasing relaxation and feelings of happiness and well-being. Overall, medical marijuana is not a one-size-fits-all type of treatment. The trick is to find the right balance and combination in individual strains of medical marijuana that will best suit each patient’s unique endocannabinoid system

How patients consume their medical marijuana also makes a huge difference in the effectiveness of their treatment. While inhaled or vaporized marijuana may provide more immediate results, edibles may prove more effective and appropriate for those suffering from chronic pain that lasts all day. Edibles often provide a slow onset of relief that tends to be longer lasting but not as acute.

Medical Marijuana Vs Opioids

Sadly, opioids have a high addiction rate. A recent CDC study shows that taking prescription opioid-based painkillers for just a single day will give you a six percent chance of becoming addicted to the drugs. Rest assured that marijuana is not an addictive substance. In fact, patients with widely different backgrounds and circumstances are opting to manage their back pain with marijuana over prescription opioids. Some of the best advocates for the use of marijuana to treat chronic back pain have been MMA athletes and football players due to the physically damaging nature of their respective fields of sports.

Closing Thoughts on Medical Marijuana and Back Pain

Thanks to recent studies and patients’ first-hand experiences with medical marijuana, more and more people — including celebrities and sports figures — are becoming advocates for this alternative treatment. As a result, marijuana is becoming more accepted as a treatment for chronic pain and back pain throughout the United States.

Because medical marijuana’s great success within the United States, more European countries are slowly beginning to realize the benefits of marijuana as a treatment for different types of medical conditions. Currently, medical marijuana is only accepted within the Netherlands, Italy, Spain, and Germany. But it will be just a matter of time before the rest of Europe catches up. Until then, Europeans outside of the countries listed above are finding relief through their own experimentations with CBD products. Be sure to find something to smoke your herb with from Hemper.