Cannabinoids in the Treatment of Back Pain

Neurosurgery. 2020 Aug 1;87(2):166-175. doi: 10.1093/neuros/nyz573.


Marijuana is increasingly utilized for the treatment of multiple medical problems, including back pain, in the United States. Although there is strong preclinical evidence supporting the promise of cannabinoids in the treatment of back pain, there is a paucity of clinical data supporting their use in clinical practice. Opioids are an important medication for the treatment of acute and chronic back pain, but utilization of opioid-based regimens have likely contributed to the growing opioid epidemic. The significant risk of morbidity, mortality, and dependence secondary to opioid medications have increased the interest in nonopioid medications, including cannabinoid-based pain regimens, in treating back pain. This review will provide an overview on the pharmacology, drug delivery methods, clinical evidence, and safety considerations critical to understanding the potential role of cannabinoids in the treatment of back pain.

Keywords: Back pain; CBD; Cannabidiol; Cannabinoid; Inflammation; Marijuana; Neuropathy; Opioid epidemic; Postoperative pain; THC; Δ9-Tetrahydrocannabinol.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Back Pain / drug therapy*
  • Cannabinoids / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Pain Management / methods*


  • Cannabinoids