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Can Cannabis Help with Back Pain?

  • Many patients have turned to cannabis for its pain relief properties; products with high concentrations of CBD are patient favorites for supporting relief and recovery.
  • There are multiple ways you could use medical marijuana to improve your quality of life—you can even use cannabis as a way to wean off of higher-risk treatments like opioids.

Can medical marijuana help with back pain? Medical cannabis patients have been using cannabis for its pain-relief properties for years, with outstanding results.

But what should new patients (or people skeptical of cannabis) know about medical marijuana and back pain before considering this plant-based, all-natural treatment route? This guide is dedicated to pain relief with cannabis. We’ll break down what we know, what your cannabis journey could look like, and its potential as a replacement for drugs with high dependence potential (like opioids).

Whether you’re on the fence about trying medical cannabis or you’re ready to seek answers outside of the Western medical model, read on to learn more about using medical marijuana for back pain relief.

Cannabis and Pain Relief: What We Know

Data from clinical trials is limited, but early evidence points to a connection between cannabis and pain relief. However, there are two things to remember about the Western medical model and its approach to holistic options:

  • Research doesn’t always lie on the cutting edge – Despite researchers’ efforts to make meaningful impacts, clinical trials and studies take time. Anecdotal evidence about the power of cannabis for pain relief would indicate that science is actually behind the curve when it comes to clinical applications for marijuana.
  • In a for-profit healthcare system, bias is rampant – In 2018, approximately 70% of clinical trials were industry-funded rather than academically funded (i.e., product manufacturers are footing the bill for product testing, not third parties). This presents a conflict of interest; in a healthcare system that prioritizes profit over people, there’s a significant potential for bias in clinical research.

The bottom line is that patients are already using medical marijuana for pain relief, with exceptional results. While you won’t find any hard-and-fast statements about the effectiveness of cannabis in medical literature yet, anecdotal evidence widely supports the use of cannabis for clinical applications.

Healing with Cannabis: What Your Journey Could Look Like

In the world of medical marijuana, no two paths are alike. But generally speaking, there are three major goals that patients typically prioritize when they turn to all-natural healing:

Finding the Root Cause of Your Pain

It’s important to remember that medical marijuana isn’t available in every state, and not every state gives healthcare providers the power to recommend cannabis for just any ailment.

Can you get a medical card for back pain? The answer depends on your state and its list of qualifying conditions. So, the first step for patients looking to manage pain with cannabis is finding the root cause of the pain.

Here’s a non-exhaustive list of potential causes:

  • A physical ailment: If you live with a long-term physical ailment like scoliosis or some level of paralysis, this condition could be contributing to your back pain.
  • Trauma recovery: Simply put, anxiety, stress, worry, and trauma can easily find homes inside our bodies. Issues that we think are only physical (like recovering from a frightening event) can often have real-world manifestations, like physical pain.
  • An undiscovered injury: When left untreated, injuries can have long-term impacts on our quality of life over time.

Depending on the underlying cause of your back pain, you may be eligible for a medical cannabis prescription in your state. If you’re not sure where to start with getting marijuana for back pain, reach out to TeleLeaf—we’re here to help you.

Using Cannabis to Manage Pain

If you’re eligible for a medical cannabis recommendation and you choose to explore this treatment option, what’s next? There are a few different ways you can use medical marijuana to relieve pain.

Smoking Methods

Smoking cannabis offers fast results and, in some cases, discreet administration. One of the following smoking applications might be compatible with your lifestyle:

  • Smoking a flower: Smoking a joint is one of the simplest ways to experience the healing properties of medical cannabis. But it isn’t right for everyone. Traditional smoking can produce odors, and it’s often not the most comfortable method for people who aren’t accustomed to smoking.
  • Using glassware: Using glassware to vaporize flowers or waxes is also relatively simple, and it can offer a slightly more comfortable smoking experience. However, it requires an investment in equipment, and it’s not as discreet as smoking a joint.
  • Vaping cannabis oils: For patients looking for a happy medium of comfort and discreet administration, vaping is an excellent option that offers fast results, low odors, and a comfortable smoking experience.

Unfortunately, smoking is one of the least precise administration methods—it’s hard to tell how much you’re using to consistently dose each time. If you opt for smoking, we recommend taking it slow and aiming for as much consistency as possible.


If you’re looking for precise dosages and discreet administration, edibles might be the method for you. But there’s a trade-off: the effects of cannabis edibles can take a long time (sometimes more than an hour) to kick in.

This isn’t always a problem. It might be an advantage for people living with chronic pain: if your back starts aching at a consistent time each day, you can time your dose to kick in when you’re usually hurting.

While it can take trial and error to master the timing, edibles are an excellent option for medical cannabis patients looking for pain relief.


If you’re worried about consuming medical cannabis (via smoking or edibles), don’t worry—you can reap the benefits of medical marijuana by using topical products.

Cannabis-infused lotions and creams are a popular choice among:

  • People with chronic pain
  • Patients with acute pain in a specific location
  • Athletes or people who exercise regularly

Like edibles, topicals can take time to take effect. By experimenting with timing and product volume, you can find a sweet spot for pain relief.

Supporting Recovery

While pain management is a key benchmark for medical cannabis patients, many find that, with the right approach, recovery from pain is possible.

Depending on the root cause of your pain, cannabis may help you decrease your pain to the point that you can take further steps to strengthen your body.

Many patients have found that marijuana is an excellent complement to:

  • Low-intensity exercises (like yoga and stretching)
  • Leisurely walking
  • Exercises prescribed by a physical or occupational therapist

Medical marijuana isn’t just a management tool; it can pave the way for long-term recovery and healing.

Cannabis vs. Pain Relief Prescriptions

If you’ve been living with back pain for quite some time, you’ve likely heard mention of opioids for everyday relief. You may even be using this method already.

We firmly believe that medical cannabis is safer and less detrimental to overall wellness than opioid treatment. Why?

  • It’s not addictive – Opioids are the leading cause of overdose deaths in the US; they’re incredibly addictive. Cannabis, on the other hand, has a significantly lower potential for habit formation—and patients can stop using it at any time without experiencing symptoms of withdrawal.
  • It’s more customizable – While there’s a bevy of opioid formulas and dosages available on the market today, these are simply no match for cannabis’s customization potential. Between different administration methods, dosages, strains, and product types, it’s easy to individualize your treatment to deliver consistent results with medical marijuana.
  • It’s plant-based – While some pharmaceutical products are derived from compounds found in nature, they’re far from all-natural. Cannabis offers an option for patients who want to be conscious of the substances they introduce into their bodies.

Opioids can be deadly; cannabis is not. If you’re looking to transition away from opioids to medical cannabis for pain relief, talk to a cannabis-informed provider and make an individualized plan—you don’t need to go it alone.

TeleLeaf: Helping Patients Unlock Pain Relief and Recovery

In short, cannabis can help patients relieve back pain. Medical marijuana has a wide variety of medical applications, and anecdotal evidence supports its utility as a pain relief tool. Not to mention the fact that it’s a much safer alternative to many pain management pharmaceutical options.

Not sure where to start with medical cannabis? Reach out to the TeleLeaf team. We understand what it feels like to look for answers from Western medicine and come up short time and time again—that’s why we created a network of cannabis-informed providers to connect patients to the all-natural pain relief they deserve.

Are you ready to pave a new path to healing? Schedule an appointment today.


Harvard Medical School. Does Cannabis Actually Relieve Pain – Or Is Something Else Going On?

tctMD. The Price of Knowledge: Industry-Sponsored Studies in the Era of Evidence-Based Medicine

US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Drug Overdose Deaths

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