The use of either whole-plant cannabis or synthetic cannabinoids is effective at mitigating back pain, according to a review of randomized controlled studies published in Global Spine Journal.

A team of investigators affiliated with the Swedish Neuroscience Institute in Seattle, Washington conducted a systematic review of the use of cannabinoids to treat nonsurgical back pain. In each of the studies identified by investigators, “[T]here was a quantifiable advantage of cannabis therapy for alleviating back pain.” There were “no serious adverse effects reported” by patients in any of the studies.

Those who consume cannabis medicinally are most likely to report doing so to address chronic pain conditions. Dozens of studies further report that pain patients typically reduce or eliminate their use of opioids following their initiation of cannabis therapy. According to longitudinal data published earlier this month, patients with chronic musculoskeletal back pain who use medical cannabis for a period of at least six months experience decreased opioid use and improvements in pain scores and in their daily functions.

Full text of the study, “Efficacy of cannabis in reducing back pain: A systemic review,” appears in Global Spine Journal. Additional information is available from NORML’s fact sheet, ‘Relationship Between Marijuana and Opioids.’

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