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Cannabis for Pain Management

Woman rubbing back of their neck in pain

If you suffer from chronic pain, you are definitely not alone. The CDC estimates that chronic pain affects about 1 in 5 Americans, with an estimated cost of $560 billion for medical care and disability. 

For years, we’ve had plenty of anecdotal evidence that medical cannabis use can help control or relieve chronic pain. Now, the medical community has scientific studies to back up those claims.  

Read more to see the proof and understand which strains and terpenes may deliver the pain management you’re looking for. As always, talk to your healthcare provider about using medical cannabis for your condition. 


The Science Behind Cannabis for Pain Relief

A 2017 investigation revealed the many benefits of medical cannabis from a dispensary member’s perspective. The 984 participants were legal members of medical cannabis dispensaries who had been diagnosed with chronic pain, including neuropathic (nerve) pain, back pain, arthritis, post-surgical pain, headaches and abdominal pain. Two-thirds of patients in the study reported pain relief as the primary benefit of cannabis use. Improved sleep was the second most reported benefit.1 

Another study showed a 64% reduction in opioid use among patients with chronic pain who used medical cannabis. These patients experienced fewer side effects and improved quality of life.2

Unlike opioids, marijuana does not carry the risk of fatal overdose or the same unpleasant side effects. 


Terpenes with Pain-relieving Effects

Terpenes are compounds that give plants their aromas and flavors. They’re also behind many of the specific effects provided by individual marijuana strains:

Beta Caryophyllene is known for reducing inflammation and blocking pain. Strains with high levels of Beta Caryophyllene include Smashfruit, Biscotti Mintz, Diesel Punch, Glue Cake, Rampage and Lotawana OG. 

Lotawana OG bag on white background

Limonene has anti-inflammatory, pain blocking and stress relief benefits. Strains to try include: Appalape, Grapefruit Durban, Sour Garlic Cookies, Garlic Breath, Rotten Rozay, Sunset Sherbert and Grandpa’s Stash. 

Grapefruit Durban strain bag on white background

Terpinolene also offers anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving effects. Strains with high levels of Terpinolene include Citradelic Sunset, Jasmine Thai, Lemon G, White Poison, Mac & Cheese, Cherry Diesel and Heavens Devil. 

Lemon G Strain 1:1 Bag on white background

The Best Cannabis Strains for Pain

Although everyone responds differently to cannabis, there are quite a few strains that offer potential for pain management and relief. Start out low and slow to get an idea of how the strain and THC content will affect you. 

The good news? Pain-relieving strains can be found in sativa, indica and hybrid form, making it easier to manage pain while also elevating your experience. 

Headband is a cultivar with long-lasting cerebral effects and some analgesic properties. It contains higher levels of limonene, myrcene, and ocimene, which work together to produce general calmness and a sense of well-being while muting the sensation of pain. 

OG Kush contains up to 23% THC and around 1% CBD, making it an excellent choice for back pain and muscle spasms.  

Grape Ape is an indica that can help with insomnia caused by pain. It’s also known for soothing pain, reducing anxiety and helping you feel more carefree.  

Jack Herer is a mild sativa strain known for its moderate THC levels, offering physical relaxation and mood-lifting effects. It can be beneficial for those with chronic nerve pain as well as those experiencing nerve pain following surgery, providing relief without overwhelming psychoactive effects. It’s also great for fatigue, pain, depression and stress. 

Double Cross has a reputation for relieving chronic pain and is suggested for more serious chronic discomforts, such as those caused by fibromyalgia and arthritis.  

ACDC has one of the highest CBD content levels available in a strain, making it especially helpful for inflammation and chronic pain. 

Cannatonic is recommended for post-surgical patients who don’t want the psychoactive effects of THC. Cannatonic’s high CBD percentage can help with inflammation and healing. 


How to Use Cannabis for Chronic Pain

How you choose to use cannabis for pain and inflammation is up to you, based on your needs and preferences. And as always, it’s a good idea to ask your healthcare provider for guidance. 
Smoking and vaping offer fast-acting relief (within 1-2 minutes) but may not be ideal for those with lung health concerns.  
Gummies and edibles will produce a slower response (up to an hour) but may last longer in terms of relief.  
Tinctures are usually placed under the tongue and swallowed. This produces a quicker result, due to absorption through the mucosal membranes.  
Topical cannabis is different because absorption is localized to where you apply it. That also means you can ramp up based on your individual response.  
Learn more about THC dosage here.


Shop for Medical Marijuana at Elevate Today

Cannabis can provide relief for several types of chronic pain, including neuropathic pain, inflammatory pain, and pain associated with conditions like multiple sclerosis and fibromyalgia. Talk to your favorite Budtender about your concerns and they’ll help you find the strain of cannabis that’s best for you.


  1. Piper BJ, Beals ML, Abess AT, Nichols SD, Martin MW, Cobb CM, DeKeuster RM. Chronic pain patients’ perspectives of medical cannabis. Pain. 2017 Jul;158(7):1373-1379.  
  2. Boehnke KF, Litinas E, Clauw DJ. Medical Cannabis Use Is Associated With Decreased Opiate Medication Use in a Retrospective Cross-Sectional Survey of Patients With Chronic Pain. J Pain. 2016 Jun;17(6):739-44. 

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