Phantom Limb Pain & Medical Marijuana

Phantom Pain is a neurological condition where non-existent  limb or organs give sensations of pain. In the case of amputation, part of the nerve circuitry in the brain that controls the lost limb, senses something is wrong and registering pain from body parts that no longer exist.   Phantom limb pain can also occur when nerves are severed,  as seen in spinal cord injuries.  Phantom sensations can also include feelings of hot, cold, cramping, etc..


"It is not simply what one remembers, but why. There are sites of amputation where the past is severed from the body of the present. Remembering only encourages the growth of phantom limbs. And it is not simply what one remembers, or why, but what to do with what one remembers, which of the scattered pieces to carry forward, what to protect and preserve, what to leave behind."
--  Camilla Gibb, Writer


More than half of amputees experience phantom sensations at some point.  In some cases, phantom pain from a missing limb can remain for the rest of their lives.

Efficacy of Medical Marijuana in Phantom Limb Pain

Cannabinoids (constituents of Medical Cannabis) are known  to interact fundamentally with the body's pain control feedback system.

As the research evidence weighs in, the wealth of medical conditions for which Cannabis is effective is astonishing. The physiological and/or pharmacological effects are traced to the cellular level where two main receptors, CB1 and CB2, are intricately involved in the control system for organs, nervous and immune system, among other functions. 


“The introduction of smokeless cannabis in dosage form will immediately ease human pain and suffering and help to move medical marijuana from the underground economy to the mainstream of the nation’s health-care system.”

--  Steven R. Patierno, Professor of Medicine at Duke University School of Medicine

Marijuana Doctors can Legally Recommend Medical Cannabis for Phantom Pain

The California law, Proposition 215, states that patients have the right to obtain and use marijuana for medical purposes deemed appropriate in a 420 evaluation  by a licensed physician who has determined that the person's health would benefit from the use of marijuana in the treatment of pain in many associated disorders, including phantom pain. 

Facts and Figures

  • veterans are one of the largest groups to experience amputations
  • wars in Iraq and Afghanistan alone resulting in 1,715 amputations by 2013
  • phantom limb pain is described by victims as devastating
  • current pharma- treatment is largely a matter of trial and error
  • little relief is experienced by most patients
  • 5,000 U.S. amputee veterans - 78 percent suffered from phantom limb syndrome, 1984
  • few receive treatment

-- Source, various

Low Dose of Cannabis has Significant Impact on Phantom Pain Management

In a study published in the The Journal of Pain , scientists found that low-doses of vaporized cannabis significantly improved neuropathic pain conditions - that did not respond to traditional treatments.  Psychoactive side effects and brain function were also evaluated to be minimal at low doses.


“Even at low doses, Cannabis may present an effective option for patients with treatment-resistant neuropathic pain. .... one might not anticipate this significant impact (of Medical Marijuana) on daily functioning.”

MMJDOCTORONLINE Notes: The following research papers and clinical studies provide a scientific basis to guide Medical Doctors to best recommend Medical Marijuana to their patients. Our Medical Marijuana Doctors provide 420 Evaluations and Recommendations online and also Medical Marijuana Cards allowing patients to quickly and easily access Medical Marijuana.

Further Reading

Most pain patients gain benefit from cannabis in a British study

Cannabis-based medicines studies and trials in pain and related disorders

Cannabis use for chronic non-cancer pain

Two cannabis based medicinal extracts for relief of central neuropathic pain

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