Pain (Chronic and Severe or Intractable Pain)

Types of Pain

The Institute for Chronic Pain defines the condition as any pain lasting longer than six months. While it often begins with the acute pain from an isolated event, a defining characteristic of chronic pain is that it has become altogether independent of the initial underlying injury or illness. Intractable pain, on the other hand, is always tied to an underlying, incurable disease or condition and results in constant, excruciating pain. Approximately 100 million Americans suffer from acute and chronic pain.

Managing Pain with Medical Marijuana

While chronic pain can drastically affect your quality of life, there is promising evidence to support the use of medical marijuana to help treat it. Its efficacy can be credited, in part, to how THC interacts with the endocannabinoid system. Cannabinoids, like THC, activate specific receptors throughout the body, and pain is reduced when those receptors are activated in the nervous system pathways that regulate pain recognition.

A Harvard-led review of cannabinoid studies to treat medical and pain issues published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that every generalized chronic pain study in the review saw a substantial improvement through using medical marijuana.

Research has also shown that patients with pain-inducing ailments such as cancer, Parkinson’s disease, fibromyalgia, migraines, and multiple sclerosis have seen positive effects from medical marijuana.

Peter Greenspoon, a primary care physician and contributing editor for the Harvard Health Blog, writes:

“The most common use for medical marijuana in the United States is for pain control. While marijuana isn’t strong enough for severe pain (for example, post-surgical pain or a broken bone), it is quite effective for the chronic pain that plagues millions of Americans, especially as they age. Part of its allure is that it is clearly safer than opiates (it is impossible to overdose on and far less addictive) and it can take the place of NSAIDs such as Advil or Aleve[…]”


The information provided should not be used as a substitution for physician knowledge. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider before starting any new treatment or discontinuing an existing treatment with medicinal marijuana.

Back to all Conditions