Can Medical Marijuana Be Used to Treat Back Pain?
With over 540 million people worldwide suffering from back pain, it is the leading cause of disability and currently ranks among the top ten in the World Health Organization’s Global Burden of Disease list. While there are physical therapy and pharmaceutical treatment options available to patients, many are choosing medical marijuana to treat their back pain and are experiencing tremendous relief.
Types and Causes of Back Pain
Lower back pain is the most common type of back pain but it can also manifest as upper or side back pain. Further to this, doctors classify two types of severity being acute or chronic. Acute back pain lasts fewer than 6 weeks while chronic back pain is defined as persistent pain lasting more than 3 months. While some may experience relief from back pain within weeks of pursuing treatment, it is common for patients to have lifelong complications and suffering from more complex injuries. Depending on the source of pain – surgery may be necessary in some cases.
Back pain can be caused by simple things like sneezing or coughing to more serious ailments like spinal cord cancer or herniated discs. Common causes include (but are limited to): stress, repetitive wear and tear, poor posture, disc degeneration, lifting heavy items resulting in muscle or ligament tears, ruptured/herniated discs, vertebral compression, pinched nerves with sciatica being one of the more chronic results. Very severe injuries typically result from sudden traumatic events like car accidents. In some cases, back pain is related to pre-existing conditions like arthritis or lupus. Illnesses that affect the joints, muscles and bones may cause weakness or swelling along the spinal cord resulting in pain or numbness.
Medical Marijuana for Pain Management
Research shows that medical marijuana helps most patients suffering from back pain. The various compounds in cannabis all provide differing therapeutic benefits. Most people are aware of the two most commonly referred to compounds; CBD (cannabidiol) and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) however a full spectrum medical cannabis will have a variety of compounds that work together to provide a more comprehensive pain relief.
The top three back pain symptoms that patients suffer from are inflammation, muscle tightness/ spasm and pain. Anti-inflammatories and muscle relaxants are available in pharmaceutical form; however, the side-effects can be devastating. Pharmaceutical anti-inflammatories are notorious for causing severe stomach pain, ulcers, headaches and can cause swelling in the arms and legs. Muscle relaxants also threaten numerous side effects to the user that include headache, blurred vision, drowsiness and loss of appetite. Furthermore, reliance on these medications if frequent and can lead to lifetime dependency and addiction.
Medical cannabis does not affect the brain stem and contains compounds that address the primary symptoms of back pain.
Reduces Inflammation CBC, CBCA, CBD, CBDA, CBGA
Suppresses Muscle Spasms ∆9-THC, ∆9-THCA, CBD
Relieves Pain CBD, CBGA, CBC, ∆8-THC, ∆9-THC
While muscle relaxants work by suppressing the Central Nervous System, medical marijuana is naturally absorbed through the body’s Endocannabinoid System (ES). ES receptors are located throughout the body and mediate many systems – how we experience pain is among them.
In addition to the comprehensive healing benefits of medical marijuana for back pain there is one other primary advantage of medicinal marijuana treatment: there are no known cases of marijuana overdose. In serious conditions that require surgery to free a nerve from compression or remove excess tissue or fluids from ruptured discs – medical marijuana can also help with post-surgical recovery in place of opioid painkillers. Again, cannabis does not affect the brain stem which removes the risk of opioid overdose/ dependence in patients who opt for medical marijuana treatment.
Best Medical Marijuana for Back Pain
In order to effectively relieve pain with medical marijuana a patient should identify which symptoms are causing the most discomfort, when they require medication and which form of medicine will best suit their needs. For some people, vaporizing an oil based product is optimal as the effects can be felt within minutes of inhalation and last for up to 3 hours. Others may require a longer lasting level of pain relief and opt for edibles or tinctures. As we know, the levels of THC and CBD are the primary compound ratios that will determine which variety is best for you. THC is known to enhance euphoric sensations while CBD is not psychoactive and will not alter your state of mind. Many patients use a variety of strains and products throughout the day so they can continue with their everyday lives while still feeling relief.
While patients often try a few different varieties before deciding which is best for their needs, there are a few products identified to have properties known to help with back pain:
- OG Kush – A THC heavy hybrid with approximately 22%THC to 1% CBD. It’s highly effective for pain relief, depression and stress relief and moderately high for insomnia. This strain is ideal for maximum pain relief and assists patients with getting the rest they need to let the body heal.
- CBD Shark – An 80/20 Indica dominant hybrid with equal ratios of THC and CBD. This strain boats effective pain relief with minimal intoxicating effects.
- CBD oil – Full spectrum cannabidiol with minimal THC ratios are effective for daytime use to relieve stress, anxiety and help patients maintain focus on routine tasks.
How to Get Medical Marijuana for Back Pain
The first time patients were approved for medical marijuana in Canada was 2001. The regulatory system, guidelines for licensed producers and canna clinics have altered since then but the basics remain. However, there are services available that make this process easier. MedScriptter offers a free online medical cannabis prescription and consulting service. Patients who use the online platform do not need a doctor’s referral, or visit to a canna clinic or dispensary. MedScriptter is designed to remove barriers of access and availability for all patients. If you’re suffering from back pain and having mobility issues – this can be a great option.
Like all healthcare in Canada – you should not pay for consultations or a doctor’s referral to access medical marijuana. The only time you should commit payment is to a licensed producer once your prescription has been filled. Your healthcare provider may offer some coverage for your medical marijuana but it is rare. Veterans are typically offered their medical marijuana at a prorated fee. Remember to keep your receipts for medical marijuana as they qualify for a tax deduction in Canada.
Medical Marijuana has proven to be a reliable option for patients suffering from back pain. The human body is designed to absorb and acquire the benefits of cannabis through the Endocannabinoid System. Furthermore, a patient has the freedom to choose from a variety of strains and products with little to no significant negative side-effects. Whereas the side-effects associated with opioids, anti-inflammatories and muscle relaxants are often debilitating and carry severe long-term health complications. These risks are unnecessary when there is another course of treatment available. A better option for the millions of people suffering from back pain is medical marijuana.