How Cannabis Helps with Lower Back Pain

senior lady with lower back pain

The term “lower back pain” (LBP) refers to several symptoms that can be brought on by a number of potential underlying causes, and if you’ve ever experienced LBP you’re not alone. According to the most recently archived information at Stats Canada, 4 out of every 5 Canadians will suffer from lower back pain in their lifetime. For 85-90% of those affected, the cause is not apparent, and the results can be quite devastating for those seeking relief.

Patients report symptoms such as a dull throbbing ache, a shooting pain down the leg, and spasms of the muscles in the lower back. The pain can interfere with normal activities of daily living – making basic tasks such as cooking, cleaning and dressing oneself seem overwhelming. The pain along with the restrictions it causes can ultimately lead the sufferer to psychological symptoms such as depression and anxiety. Thus, finding appropriate lower back pain treatment is of the utmost importance.

Historically, it has been common practice to prescribe opioids in the case of LBP. However, studies are leaving some skeptical about their efficacy, especially in the long term. Canadians are facing an opioid crisis, showing just how dangerous some of the mainstream treatments for LBP can be.

An article from the London Free Press dated January 8th, 2019 talks about the current crisis we are facing and what hospitals in London, ON are doing about it; namely limiting opioid prescriptions. This is leaving many patients wondering what they can do for pain management without the potentially deadly effects that can be brought on when opiates fail to work as they should, and patients turn into abusers.

All of these risks have got the medical community seeking alternative treatment plans. One of these alternatives is cannabis.

Can Cannabis Help with Lower Back Pain?

A study on the effect of medicinal cannabis therapy (MCT) conducted by the Department of Orthopedics, Hasharon Hospital, Rabin Medical Center, Petah Tikwa and Sackler School of Medicine, Tel Aviv University, Israel published in 2016 found that, “MCT effect was particularly significant for pain and was practically uniform.”

How Does Cannabis Help with Lower Back Pain?

Preclinical studies determined that endocannabinoids are involved in LBP and activating the CB1 receptor suppresses both allodynia (pain due to a stimulus that does not usually provoke pain) and hyperalgesia (increased pain from a stimulus that usually provokes pain). Based on that, the study was undertaken to determine what, if any the addition of MCT over a 12-month period would have on lower back pain and the results were promising.

At the end of the study, patients reported improved life quality, being able to return to work and cessation of opiate therapy. All the participants in the study had previously been treated unsuccessfully with opiates and atypical analgesic therapy, suggesting that MCT therapy may be more effective than the former.

Although the study in question had participants ingesting cannabis by smoking it, those concerned about the harmful effects of smoking can rest assured that is not the only means available. Oils, which can be ingested like food or beverage, are increasing in popularity as the effects last longer and there are fewer health risks. In addition, they are certainly more discreet and can be consumed without the telltale odour or a need to go outside.

To determine what course of treatment might be right for you, contact us today.


Comprehensive Medical Cannabis Plan

There are no referrals necessary to book an appointment with one of our physicians.


  1. Statistics C. (2006) Back Pain Retrieved from: https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/82-619-m/2006003/4053542-eng.htm#cont

  2. Government of Canada (2018) Responding to Canada’s opioid crisis Retrieved from: https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/substance-use/problematic-prescription-drug-use/opioids/responding-canada-opioid-crisis.html

  3. Jennifer B. (2019) London hospitals to limit opioid prescriptions for acute pain Retrieved from: https://lfpress.com/news/local-news/london-hospitals-to-limit-opioid-prescriptions-for-acute-pain

  4. Mustafa Y. (2016) Effect of Medicinal Cannabis Therapy (MCT) on Severity of Chronic Low Back Pain, Sciatica and Lumbar Range of Motion Retrieved from: http://anaesthesia-painmedicine.imedpub.com/effect-of-medicinal-cannabis-therapy-mct-on-severity-of-chronic-low-backpain-sciatica-and-lumbar-range-of-motion.php?aid=17737