Can medical marijuana ease chronic lower back pain?
Yes, it can, according to new research from Israeli scientists, as reported by the Jerusalem Post. Dr. Dror Robinson and Dr. Mustafa Yassin of the Orthopedics Department of Hasharon Hospital of the Rabin Medical Center in Petah Tikva, and Sivan Ritter of the University of Haifa discovered that not just any type of cannabis will do the job but that smoking weed is a more effective solution than CBD extracts for those suffering from lower back pain.
The researchers recently released their study findings in the Rambam Maimonides Medical Journal under the title “Comparing Sublingual and Inhaled Cannabis Therapies for Low Back Pain: An Observational Open-Label Study.”
Making progress in the treatment of back pain is very important, considering that this is one of the most common reasons people seek medical help or miss work, according to the Mayo Clinic. Furthermore, this condition is considered a leading cause of disability across the globe.
Cannabis & Back Pain Study Highlights
Scientists provided two types of marijuana treatment to patients suffering from chronic low back pain. The first was cannabidiol (CBD)-rich sublingual (under the tongue) extract treatment for 10 months. Then after a month of no cannabis treatment at all, the same group was treated with delta Delta–9–tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)-rich whole dried cannabis flowers. They smoked it in form of marijuana cigarettes for 12 months.
The results showed that while CBD had no significant impact on the patients’ back pain, smoking cannabis did.
“Our findings indicate that inhaled THC-rich therapy is more effective than CBD-rich sublingual extract therapy for treating low back pain and that cannabis therapy is safe and effective for chronic low back pain,” the scientists concluded.
The study involved 24 people whose MRI or CT scans of the spine confirmed disc herniation or spinal stenosis. As for initial side effects, the most common were nausea, sore throat, dizziness, fatigue and drowsiness – and all were temporary, as they disappeared after the right dosage was determined. Most of the adverse effects were recorded in female patients.
Scientists highlighted that medical marijuana is becoming more popular for pain relief even though there isn’t enough established scientific basis. Other traditional treatments for lower back pain include cortisone injections, physical therapy and manipulation, and in extreme cases surgery.
“A major obstacle to the widespread legal use of medical cannabinoid-based (CB) therapy is the lack of sufficient evidence-based data. However, the naturally occurring variation among and between the phytoconstituents of different cannabis cultivars makes it difficult to quantitate and compare studies and subjects,” the researchers wrote.