Key points

  • Medical cannabis is a very popular alternative to many traditional medications, including opioids. In the long run, opioids and other types of medicine are proven to be harmful and cause different side effects, such as stomach upset, nausea, ulcers, and gastric bleeding. On the other hand, medical cannabis has mild side effects that go away as the treatment wears off.
  • Studies have found that medical cannabis can relieve the following symptoms of chronic pain: muscle pain, muscle spasms, inflammation, nausea, and nerve pain. There are different strains available for back pain, one of them contains more THC while others have higher amounts of CBD.
  • You don’t necessarily have to smoke or vape cannabis to treat back pain. You can also take it in the form of raw juice, tinctures, edibles, and topicals.
  • Unlike traditional pain-relieving medications, cannabis may have mild and quickly passing side effects, such as red eyes, short-term memory loss, and higher sensory perception. If you take strains with high amounts of THC, you may also experience fatigue.

Pain can affect almost every aspect of our daily lives. It doesn’t just hurt you physically, but it also impairs your mood, emotions, sleep patterns and overall performance more often than not. This is related to the fact that our bodies are made of interconnected systems relying on one another to work effectively. So if one of these essential components is in terrible pain, it can have a knock-out effect on other parts of the body, resulting in reduced productivity and more severe health problems when left unchecked.

About 4 in 5 adults living in the UK experience back pain at some point in their lifetime, yet it’s very common for some people to think that a little soreness here and there is not worth worrying about. In reality, suffering from persistent back pain is your body’s way of telling you that something could be wrong with your system. So if you feel that stubborn aches and pains keep you from carrying out important daily routines, it’s best to have those symptoms addressed sooner rather than later. 

Today, more and more people seek out information about medical cannabis and its pain-relieving properties. While there are a lot of conventional treatments for back pain, some of them may be addictive or cause unpleasant side effects. Medical cannabis is a popular alternative to these traditional medications that can relieve different types of chronic pain, including pain caused by inflammation or nerve damage. 

As you scour the internet to find the most promising natural pain management alternatives, you’ve probably come across different medical cannabis strains being reported to help ease diverse symptoms of chronic pain. With a myriad of cannabis options at your fingertips, it can be overwhelming for first-time users like you to figure out what’s right for them and learn how to get a prescription for cannabis in the UK. But don’t worry! This article will discuss all the benefits of using medical cannabis for chronic pain and the types of cannabis used for treating this condition.

What Is Medical Cannabis?

There has been a skyrocketing demand for medical cannabis due to its promising therapeutic effects and wellness benefits, which many users delight in. Some even argue that medical cannabis could be a powerful supplement that might just help with different types of pain. But is it true? 

Cannabis has a rich history of human use as a herbal medicine for various health conditions. There are over 100 bioactive natural products called phytocannabinoids found within the cannabis plant. Of these chemical substances, CBD and THC are the most popular and best understood yet. The key difference between the two is how they affect the body in extremely opposite ways. 

CBD (Cannabidiol)  is thought to influence the body’s endocannabinoid system (ESC), which is responsible for regulating different bodily functions, including mood, sleep and pain perception. This cannabinoid is known to have calming properties that help the body to slow down and recover naturally from everyday stresses. Unlike CBD, THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) targets the cannabinoid receptors in the brain to create an invigorating effect, which often leads to an elevated state of mind, also known as a “high”.    

Medical Cannabis vs Opioids for Back Pain

Cannabis has been proven to help with back pain, and there are lots of doctors who will stand by this claim. A large body of scientific research also supports this claim, which is why medical cannabis is becoming a more and more common treatment. One of the most common conditions that are treated with medical cannabis is chronic pain. 

For a long time, painkillers were the only treatment option for this condition, but they can cause different side effects, including stomach upset, nausea, ulcers, and gastric bleeding. Opioid painkillers are also an option, but while they can help with pain in the short term, they cause more harm than good in the long run. Besides being dangerously addictive, they also come with several side effects. That’s why people tend to look for safer alternatives, one of which is medical cannabis.

Here are some reasons why medical cannabis is a popular pain treatment:

  • Medical cannabis can relieve your pain up to a point where you can come back to having an active life;
  • It also frees you from the need to take addictive or dangerous anti-pain medication;
  • Chronic pain may be a factor for insomnia, depression, and anxiety, and medical cannabis can reduce the risk of all of these conditions; 
  • Plus, it’s all-natural and doesn’t contain chemicals, unlike many other pain medications.

Benefits of Medical Cannabis for Chronic Back Pain

Medical cannabis can have a number of positive effects on people experiencing back pain symptoms, including the following:

Relieves Pain and Muscle Spasms

Scientists report that cannabis can relieve muscle spasms and reduce pain intensity by up to 45% within 20 minutes of inhalation. The substance has been particularly effective in alleviating back spasms. A study conducted in Germany found that medications with cannabis increased the number of patients who reported pain relief by 50%.

Inflammation

Cannabis has potent anti-inflammatory properties and is widely used to treat conditions like arthritis and degenerative changes in different spine sections. Back or neck pain usually results from degenerative changes, which is why many patients choose medical cannabis to relieve this pain. 

When painful sensations are caused by degenerative disc disease, they tend to get worse with time. While medical cannabis can’t stop or prevent the degeneration process, it can certainly reduce inflammation and alleviate the pain you experience. Muscle relaxing properties and anti-inflammatory effects of cannabis also make it useful for treating strains and sprains caused by heavy labour and exercise.

Nausea and Vomiting 

Cannabis can also alleviate nausea and vomiting. Many traditional back pain medications cause nausea and vomiting, which are not pleasant to experience, to say the least. Since cannabis relieves nausea, many patients prefer it to other pain-relieving medications. In the USA, medical cannabis is commonly given to cancer patients to help improve appetite and alleviate the side effects of chemotherapy. 

 Neuropathic Pain

Neuropathic pain, or nerve pain, is often associated with spine and nervous system-related conditions. Unfortunately, most of the medications prescribed for nerve pain are addictive sedatives, including opioids. Medical cannabis, on the other hand, may help to reduce nerve pain without causing addiction.

Strains of Cannabis Used For Treating Back Pain

Most studies focus on two components of cannabis associated with pain relief: cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). There are different types or strains of cannabis, and all of them work differently and help to manage different symptoms. For example, strains that are heavier in THC are recommended for pain relief, while CBD is best for alleviating inflammation. At the same time, strains that contain a lot of THC may cause more potent psychoactive effects, which is why it’s better to use a low THC/high CBD combination during the day and high THC/low CBD medical cannabis at nighttime. That way, you’ll stay functional during the daytime and have better sleep at night. Research shows that Indica strains provide more potent sedation and are better for pain management and sleep, while Sativa strains fight fatigue and improve mood. 

Here are some medical cannabis strains that are commonly used for back pain:

Bubba Kush (Indica)

This strain is good for managing muscle spasms and stress. It contains more THC, up to 22 per cent, and less CBD, up to 0.1 per cent.  

Candyland (Sativa)

Candyland contains about 24 per cent of THC and one per cent of CBD and CBN. It’s generally recommended for people suffering from muscle spasms and tension. It alleviates the pain and has some stimulating effect, which helps with fatigue.

OG Kush (Indica)

OG Kush contains up to 23 per cent THC and around one per cent CBD. Indica provides better muscle spasm relief while also reducing pain. 

ACDC (Sativa)

Sativa contains more CBD – up to 24 per cent, but is low in THC – around 1.2 per cent. This makes it better for daytime use, as it doesn’t cause any psychoactive side effects.

How To Use Medical Cannabis For Back Pain

There are a lot of different ways you can medicate with cannabis to treat your back pain. 

Medical cannabis can be used topically or internally. Some of the best and most common methods of using medical cannabis are the following: 

Inhalation

This method entails patients vaping medical cannabis. It provides the fastest relief when compared to other methods, as the effect sets in within 1-2 minutes. This is what most people think about medicating with cannabis. Of course, this is not the only way to take medical cannabis, and in fact, this is not how most patients use it. 

It’s worth noting that UK law prohibits patients from smoking medical cannabis, and moreover, the substance comes in forms specifically designed to make it impossible to smoke. 

Raw juice

Medical cannabis can be used as a dietary supplement, and patients can take the juice from the plant. This relieves the pain and has no psychoactive effects. 

Edibles

Edible cannabis takes longer to deliver the effects, up to an hour, because it needs to be absorbed by the gut. But, it may as well provide longer relief and have a better psychotropic effect. 

Tinctures

Medical cannabis tinctures need to be placed under the tongue and swallowed. This delivers a quicker effect because the medication is absorbed through the mucosal membranes. 

Topicals

Topical cannabis has a slightly different effect. Its absorption is localised to the site of the injury. Patients can also increase the dose to reach the desired effect.

Possible Side Effects of Medical Cannabis

While medical cannabis is very effective at relieving back pain, you need to be aware of its possible side effects. Usually, they are not dangerous and go away as the medication wears off. Some of the side effects are as follows: 

  • Red eyes; this is not serious and can be treated with eye drops;
  • Short-term memory loss: it goes away as the treatment wears off, and some patients are more prone to it than others;
  • High sensory perception: your hearing, sight, smell, and sense of taste may be more acute during the treatment;
  • Fatigue: this side effect is common for strains with a high content of THC.

How to Get Medical Cannabis for Back Pain

If you are experiencing back pain and would like to find out more about treating it with medical cannabis, you can always book an appointment at The Medical Cannabis Clinics. A professional team of doctors with years of experience in treating patients with medical cannabis will evaluate your symptoms and prescribe the best course of treatment for you. There’s no need for you to travel; you can book a video appointment and let our professional team of coordinators and doctors support you every step of the way.

FAQ

Does cannabis help with pain?

Yes, lots of studies and research prove the fact that cannabis can be an effective alternative treatment to many traditional medications for back pain. It effectively manages and alleviates the symptoms like pain, muscle spasms, nausea, nerve pain, and inflammation.

Can cannabis be prescribed for chronic pain?

Medical cannabis is becoming increasingly popular for managing different types of pain, particularly in jurisdictions that have enacted policies to legalise its use. However, current guideline recommendations around the world may vary. Cannabis strains with extremely high THC levels remain illegal for medical purposes in many countries, including the UK. Your best bet is to consult a medical cannabis professional who can prescribe you the right cannabis treatment for your case and provide a prescription.

Does cannabis help with inflammation in the body?

Yes, cannabis has been found to have potent anti-inflammatory properties. Research shows that heavier THC strains work better for pain relief, while CBD is effective in alleviating inflammation.

Is Sativa or Indica better for back pain?

Both strains are used for managing back pain, and your doctor’s choice will depend on the severity of your symptoms and the effect you want to reach. A survey of that 95 participants conducted by the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine in 2014 found that participants preferred Indica strains for relieving pain and having better sleep while Sativa strains were better for improving energy and mood.

Is CBD good for back pain?

Yes, CBD can treat back pain by reducing inflammation and helping with anxiety and fatigue – symptoms commonly associated with chronic pain. CBD can also provide an overall state of relaxation.

What is considered chronic back pain?

Chronic back pain is pain that continues for 12 weeks or longer, even after the initial cause of injury has been treated. Most prescribed medications for back pain come with a multitude of side effects and can even cause addiction, which is why many people consider treating back pain with cannabis.