If you’ve got a bad back, you’re certainly not alone. According to a recent WebMD analysis[1], “540 million people worldwide” are affected by lower back pain. But back pain is not limited to lumbago or lower back problems. Plenty of people also suffer from upper back pain and/or experience side back pain.

Back pain is arguably the leading cause of disability in the world, and studies evidence a rising trend since the 1990s. For most people, it is a sudden and temporary health problem that works itself out. Unfortunately, others experience episodic occurrences and some even suffer from chronic, persistent back pain.

The good news is cannabis is becoming increasingly recognised and recommended as an effective treatment by medical professionals. Well, in the US and Canada at least. New York has allowed back pain patients access to the state’s medical marijuana program since 2016.

Furthermore, the latest WHO data[2] indicates some 2.5% or 147 million people on the planet use cannabis. This number could swell significantly with new medical cannabis users seeking relief from back pain.

Most Cannabis Users Per Country


The Mayo Clinic[3] defines back pain of fewer than 6 weeks as “acute”, while back pain that lasts 3 months or more is categorised as “chronic”. Simple back pain or “mechanical” back pain is believed to be the most common type. “This means that the pain is not related to any serious underlying condition and there are no trapped or compressed nerves” so says the British Chiropractic Association[4].

Ageing, everyday wear and tear, poor posture, and stress can cause simple back pain. More serious back pain usually stems from trapped nerves and slipped discs. Sports-related injuries, slips, trips, and falls are the usual suspects as the cause. Shooting pains running down into the legs are indicative of sciatica. However, back pain can also be associated with other serious underlying conditions like arthritis and osteoporosis. Surgery is always a last resort, but sometimes inevitable whether you use cannabis or not to treat pain.


Cannabis has been used as a kind of cure-all for centuries. The anecdotal evidence of millions of cannabis users can attest to the pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory properties of the sacred herb. With the rising tide of cannabis legalization these days, we can be more specific. Today, we have solid medical evidence that proves cannabis to be an effective treatment. Patients are already on legally prescribed medical cannabis to treat back pain in the US. We can go further still and say cannabis is the preferential natural medicine in comparison with Big Pharma pain pills.

Cannabinoids, as usual, are the key to the effectiveness of the treatment. We already know that THC and CBD have critical roles to play. THC is best known for its blissful qualities, and if your back pain is linked to depression, a high-THC sativa could be enough to boost your mood and re-energise you.

Similarly, CBD-rich herbal cannabis or CBD oil, while not psychoactive, is renowned for relieving physical pain and discomfort. In combination, both cannabinoids can even achieve synergy through a theory known as the “entourage effect”. Some patients will benefit more or less from different combinations, as everyone’s ECS or endocannabinoid system is unique. The bottom line is, weed works as an effective treatment. But don’t just take our word for it. The 2017 National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM)[5] report confirms it.

Inhaled cannabis via a joint or vaporizer will deliver almost immediate relief. Eating edibles may be more appropriate for ongoing pain where a longer-lasting effect is required.

Vaping Cannabis For Back Pain


Post-surgery pain management can be a slippery slope into an opioid addiction. Just one day on a prescription for opioid-based painkillers gives you a 6% chance of finding yourself still popping pills a year later according to an in-depth CDC study[6] from 2006–2015.

Cannabis is not an addictive substance, certainly not in the way that opioids are. Patients from all walks of life are choosing to manage their back pain with cannabis instead. Professional athletes in arguably the most physically damaging contact sports MMA and American football are the most well-known advocates.


We’ve all seen Nate Diaz puff on his CBD pen and live to take another beating from Conor McGregor. Even NFL players are thinking twice about lining up for another shot of Toradol[7] in the behind. Players like Eben Britton are speaking out. Celebrities are spreading the word far and wide. As a result, cannabis has become accepted and popularised as a treatment for pain in North America.

Hopefully, legislators across European countries will come to the same conclusion sooner rather than later. Outside of the Netherlands, Germany, Italy, and Spain, all European back pain sufferers can do its experiment with CBD products to seek relief. Access to the complete spectrum of cannabinoids in cannabis is what they really need.

External Resources:
  1. Millions Get Wrong Treatment for Back Pain: Study
  2. WHO | Cannabis
  3. Back pain - Symptoms and causes - Mayo Clinic
  4. Back Pain - British Chiropractic Association
  5. The Health Effects of Cannabis and Cannabinoids: The Current State of Evidence and Recommendations for Research | The National Academies Press
  6. Characteristics of Initial Prescription Episodes and Likelihood of Long-Term Opioid Use — United States, 2006–2015 | MMWR
  7. Ketorolac - Wikipedia
This content is for educational purposes only. The information provided is derived from research gathered from external sources.

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