Paul from Pleasanton, CA, asks today about using medical marijuana for back pain from degenerative disc disease. He’s a real trooper who’s suffered from his pain for years. It varies from dull nagging to sharp stabbing, and has tried everything the doctors have offered. In lieu of back surgery, he writes to me…
I was diagnosed with degenerative disc disease several years back.
Most of the time I have a dull, nagging pain in my lower back, but say for instance, I sit in one position for too long, then I’m a goner. It turns into a very sharp, stabbing pain that can sometimes last for a couple days at a time.
During meetings at work, I have to continuously stand up to stretch my back. Even on road trips to see my kids and grandchildren, I have to make repeated stops to stretch my back. Actually, the position that provides me with the most relief is lying on my bed with a pillow under my knees, but practically speaking, I can’t afford to lie in bed all day long.
Over the years, I’ve run the gamut of treatments to relieve my back pain. I started off by applying ice packs and heating pads. I then tried over-the-counter medications like Tylenol, Advil, Aleve, you name it. I’ve been prescribed Norco, but it gave me side effects like nausea and constipation. I’ve had epidural steroid injections too, but those only provided temporary relief.
I’ve consulted with a surgeon about the possibility of getting a surgery, but to be quite honest, I’d really like to hold off until I’ve exhausted all other possible options.
I’ve heard of people using medical marijuana for back pain. What sort of results can I expect, given that I have degenerative disc disease?
Thanks for writing in.
You’re asking a question that’s on the mind of a lot of folks. Chronic pain, especially that in the back, is the most common condition that I treat.
Medical Marijuana for Back Pain: The RESEARCH
To start off with, I want to answer your question by telling you about some research. The particular study I’m going to discuss was published fairly recently in 2014.
But before I dive in, let me give you some background information so that you can understand what exactly I’m talking about.
A lot of back pain from degenerative disc disease is due to inflammation and this inflammation is from a breakdown in the components of what’s called the intervertebral discs.
These intervertebral discs are basically, as the name suggests, round discs that are filled with jelly-like material that act as cushioning between the bones in your spine so you don’t have bone rubbing up against bone every time you use your back.
In this study, to mimic degenerative disc disease in rats, the researchers punctured the intervertebral discs with a needle to cause a breakdown in the components of the intervertebral discs.
The rats were then split up into 3 groups based on how much marijuana was injected. One group was injected with 30 nmol, another with 60 nmol, and a third with 120 nmol.
Later, when the researchers viewed the spines of these rats on an MRI, they saw that the rats that were injected 120 nmol had significantly less breakdown in the components of the intervertebral disc.
The researchers concluded that these results are due to the very potent anti-inflammatory effects of marijuana.
Medical Marijuana for Back Pain: The RESULTS
In my own practice, I’ve treated countless patients dealing with back pain from degenerative disc disease. They tell me that medical marijuana either dulls or completely eliminates their back pain.
It allows them to do necessary activities like driving a car, typing on a computer, or flying on a plane. They’re also able to sleep through the night and aren’t kept awake all night from the pain.
What came as a surprise to me was that some of my patients managed to completely come off the pharmaceutical drugs they were taking and use just the medical marijuana on an as needed basis to help manage their back pain.
So, Paul there you have it. I hope you and anyone else out there looking to treat their back pain with medical marijuana found this information really valuable.
More information on Medical Marijuana for Back Pain:
- Is Marijuana as Effective as Opiates for Treating Pain?
- Medical Marijuana Can Be A Huge Help For People In Pain — With A Few Stipulations