Cannabis for neuropathic pain among Spinal Cord Injury patients

This study included spinal cord injury (SCI) patients with chronic neuropathic pain. Their goal was to determine what patients say about the effectiveness of cannabinoid medicines. It was published in December 2023 in the journal Frontiers in Pain Management.

This type of pain is severe and highly treatment-resistant, so ANY improvement in pain scores is helpful. Traditional pharmaceutical approaches have not been shown to be very effective.

227 patients with SCI related neuropathic pain were included. Over half of them experienced a spinal cord injury at least ten years prior. They reported an average neuropathic pain intensity score of 6.8 on a 10 point scale. This is considered to be a high-moderate to severe level of pain.

Participants completed a 45 item anonymous survey specifically designed for SCI related neuropathic pain.

Questions were measured on a 10-point Likert scale:

  • pain intensity (0 indicating no pain, 10 indicating most intense pain imaginable)
  • unpleasantness (0 indicating no unpleasantness, 10 indicating most unpleasant pain imaginable)
  • ability to deal with the pain (0 indicating not hard at all, 10 indicating extremely hard)
  • as well as pain interference (0 indicating no interference, 10 indicating extreme interference) with mood, sleep, and daily activities 

Most patients who were actively using cannabis products took doses either once or twice a day (62%). The rest took doses 3 or more times a day. The methods of consumption were, in order of preference: edibles (53.8%), vaporized (39.7%), and smoked joints/blunts (36.5%). Patients could choose more than 1 method.

Those who smoked or vaporized flower used between 2 and 4 grams per week. 84% had THC in their product while 53% had CBD in their product. Unfortunately, the authors did not provide detailed information about specific doses for each method of consumption, nor a comparison of those different methods.

The results:

87.9% noted that cannabis reduced their neuropathic pain intensity by more than 30%

92.3% reported that cannabis helped them to better deal with their neuropathic pain symptoms

Most participants (83.3%) also reported substituting their pain medications with cannabis, with the most substituted medication categories being opioids (47.0%), gabapentinoids (42.8%) and over-the-counter pain medications (42.2%). 


So, over 92% said that cannabinoid medicine helped them deal with their pain symptoms, and almost 88% of them had a pain reduction of at least 30%. Additionally, over 83% were able to reduce their use of other types or prescription and over-the-counter pain medications.

The authors concluded:

The current study adds to the pain management literature by suggesting that cannabis and cannabinoids might be beneficial in reducing SCI-associated neuropathic pain symptoms.

Our findings also suggest that cannabis and cannabinoids are being used as substitutes for many prescribed pain medications.


 The full text article is here at



Kinnunen Kristiina, Robayo Linda E., Cherup Nicholas P., Frank Scott I., Widerström-Noga Eva, A preliminary study evaluating self-reported effects of cannabis and cannabinoids on neuropathic pain and pain medication use in people with spinal cord injury, Frontiers in Pain Research, VOLUME 4, 2023, DOI: 10.3389/fpain.2023.1297223