Having a “bad back” is a common complaint—nearly half of all working Americans say they experience back pain each year—but it’s a different beast altogether when a backache becomes a way of life. When any kind of pain persists longer than a few months, it’s considered chronic—and it wears on the sufferer’s overall health, well-being and happiness.
Physical therapy is a first-line treatment for back pain, prescribed by doctors to help stretch and strengthen muscles. But for people who don’t respond well to physical therapy, or may suffer from back pain due to other issues such as arthritis, ruptured or bulging discs, skeletal irregularities, ligament problems or osteoporosis, there are only a few other options.
The most commonly recommended medications for back pain are nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as Ibuprofen, epidural steroid injections, and as a last resort, opioid pain medications. After prolonged use, all three treatments come with undesirable side effects, not least of which is dependency on opioids.
If you factor in these risks, medical cannabis is by far the safest and most effective treatment for chronic back pain. According to a study by University of Colorado Spine Center, 80% of study participants found cannabis to be equal to, or more beneficial, than opioids for the same pain.
For back pain associated with muscle spasm or weakness, inflammation, and/or for overall pain, these are some of the most widely used cannabis strains:
Sarah A Lybrand is a writer specializing in lifestyle, health, finance, cannabis—and fun. She’s written for Bust, Juno, Yahoo, MarketSmiths and Toast Media, among many others.