Over-The-Counter or Pharmaceutical Drugs not Touching your Back Pain… You May Want to Give Medical Marijuana a Whirl!

Here’s a question from Paul of Pleasanton, CA. He writes…

Dr. Patel,

I was diagnosed with degenerative disc disease several years back. Most of the time it’s a 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 back pain that sometimes last for a couple days at a time. 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 to relieve my back pain. I started off by applying ice packs and heating pads. I then tried the 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, for maybe 4 to 6 months.  

I have consulted with a surgeon about the possibility of getting a surgery, but to be quite honest, I would really like to hold off until I’ve exhausted all other possible options.  

So, I’ve been considering using medical marijuana. What sort of results can I expect?



Paul asks a great question about back pain resulting from degenerative disc disease. In a recent study, a group of researchers looked into the effects of CBD, a chemical made by the marijuana plant, on rats with degenerative disc disease.

Much of back pain associated with degenerative disc disease is due to inflammation, which causes a breakdown in the components of the intervertebral disc. To mimic degenerative disc disease in rats, the researchers started by puncturing the intervertebral discs in about 19 rats with a needle to cause a breakdown in the components of the intervertebral disc.

The rats were then split up into 3 groups based on how much CBD 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 of CBD 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 CBD.

I’ve treated countless patients dealing with lower back pain from degenerative disc disease. They tell me that medical marijuana dulls their back pain allowing them to go about their day with some sense of normalcy. They no longer have a desire to lay in bed all day. Many of them are quite surprised that they don’t actually have to use medical marijuana on an everyday basis like the pharmaceutical painkillers they’re prescribed. Using it once or twice a week suffices in relieving their back pain for a couple days at a time.    


Research Referenced:
PLoS One. 2014 Dec 17;9(12):e113161.

Over to You… Share your Story?  

Are you using (or have you used) medical marijuana to treat back pain from degenerative disc disease?  I would love to hear your story in the comments section below.


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