Last edited: 8/24/2021

CBD for Pain Relief
Compilation of Survey Results

Since the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, the popularity of cannabidiol (CBD) continues to increase grow as more people learn about the therapeutic benefits being reported by the media and experienced by friends and family members. One of the top reasons people turn to CBD is pain relief.  People self-report using CBD for muscle and joint pain, chronic pain, fibromyalgia pain, and for arthritis pain (among others).

Also, individuals with a fitness lifestyle and athletes report using CBD to relieve muscle soreness and tension in addition to general body aches and pains to help speed up their recovery time.

Consumer Data on CBD Use for Pain

Over the last few years, numerous CBD consumer surveys have been done showing that a large number of individuals have tried CBD for pain relief.  Collectively, survey results show that consumers use CBD for joint pain, muscle pain, muscle soreness and tension, migraine pain, arthritis pain, and chronic pain.  Below we highlight some of these surveys and their results.

  • ProjectCBD: a survey with 3,506 participants reported that 62.8% use CBD for pain relief. Among these CBD users, nearly 70% indicated that their pain was “much better” and 23% reported it was “a little better.”
  • Consumer Reports: a survey with 4,000 participants reported that 24% use CBD for joint pain.  Among these, 38% found CBD “extremely effective or very effective”, and 27% found CBD “slightly or not at all effective”.
  • Harris Poll & Quartz: a survey with 2,000+ participants reported that 44% use CBD for muscle pain, 39% reported using CBD for chronic pain, and 38% reported using CBD for joint pain.
  • Remedy Review: a survey with 855 women reported that 65.1% of the Baby Boomers use CBD for pain relief, followed by 51.2% among Generation X and 46.8% among Millennials.
  • In a 2019 study of 1.3 million U.S. social media posts and conversations, 280,000 conversations focused on using CBD oil for pain management, with 91% of those conversations indicating CBD oil was effective for pain.
  • In a Gallup poll, 40% of Americans reported using CBD for pain.
  • Arthritis Foundation: a survey with 2,600 arthritis patients reported that 87% use CBD to manage their arthritis symptoms, with 94% of those indicating that symptom to be pain relief. Of these, 67% reported improvement in their physical function. In addition, over 30% found that CBD relieved their morning stiffness and mobility.
  • ValidCare: a survey with 2,000+ participants reported that 43% use CBD for chronic pain. Among all participants, 76.2% reported that they felt “better” to “much better” after they used CBD. Notably, the participants reported not experience any side effects from using CBD.
  • a survey with 1,273 vitamin and supplement users reported that 67.3% use CBD to reduce their pain.
  • The CBD Insider: a survey with 1,055 participants reported that 58.1% use CBD for aches/discomfort. Of these, 67.4% found CBD “extremely or very effective”. In addition, 41% reported using CBD for muscle soreness/recovery, and, of these, 70.5% found CBD “extremely or very effective”.
  • SingleCare: a survey with 2,000 participants reported that 64% use CBD for pain relief and inflammation.
  • AmericanMarijuana: a survey with 1,453 CBD users reported that 60% use CBD to treat chronic pain, 34% use CBD for migraine pain, and 3% use CBD for cancer treatment pain.
  • In a 2020 survey by New Frontier Data, 41% of participants reported using CBD for pain management.

→ Related: 63% Found CBD Helps Back Pain 

As reflected in the data above, CBD has helped many people with their type of pain.  The reason CBD works for some and not for others can vary based on factors such as age, gender, body weight, type of CBD product used, potency of CBD in the product, the quality of the CBD product, how often it was used, the amount used, the length of use, the cause of pain, and an individual’s overall health status.

Type of CBD Products

Pain is tricky. With variables playing a role, there is no one-size-fits-all type of CBD product to try.  You have many options to choose from based on your preferences to try and test.

Some consumers use a CBD ingestible product such as oil drop tinctures, capsules, soft gels, gummies and vapes. Other consumers use a CBD topical relief product such as a cream, salve, rub, or balm to apply to those areas of their body where they feel the pain (i.e., neck, shoulders, arms, back, hips, legs, ankles, etc.). And, some consumers use both a CBD ingestible product and a CBD topical relief product.

The ideal product for you to try depends on whether you prefer a CBD product you can drop under tongue and swallow, drink, eat or inhale, or whether you prefer a CBD topical cream you can apply to the trouble area for on the spot relief.

CBD Ingestible Products

Ingestible CBD products are available in oil drop tinctures, soft gels, capsules, vapes, beverages, and gummies. If you’re new to CBD and are interested in a CBD ingestible product, start with the suggested serving size indicated on the product’s label to see if that amount of CBD works for you. If this amount is ineffective, you may increase the amount of CBD by a serving size or two and keep gradually doing so.

Generally, your chances of having to increase or decrease the amount should be expected as part of your CBD experience. No two people are the same and the amount of CBD that’s right for you is just as unique as you. Monitor how it makes you feel and adjust accordingly.

Be patient and don’t give up too quickly as a natural hemp plant extract does take time to work, especially if you’re new to CBD. Some people believe that as soon as they use CBD they should immediately feel a difference in their pain levels.  This is not the case. CBD simply does not work like a prescription medication.

Let’s use an Omega-3 supplement as an example to help put this into context. A hemp-derived CBD ingestible product, in theory, works somewhat like an Omega-3 supplement in that you may have to take it for a few weeks to several weeks to notice a difference, and it may take longer if not used regularly. With Omega-3, for example, it can take 6 weeks to 6 months to see a significant change. Unlike endocannabinoids, which our bodies naturally produce, we do not naturally produce Omega-3 fatty acids. As such, the length of use before noticing a difference between an Omega-3 and CBD may slightly or significantly differ.

CBD Topical

A CBD topical relief product is ideal for those who seek on the spot relief from aches and pains arising from workouts, training, sports, competitions, neck stiffness arising from looking at a computer screen for long hours, back pain from sitting too long, and from general daily wear and tear of the body associated with living.

Full Spectrum v Broad Spectrum v Isolate

CBD products are most commonly formulated as one of the following.

Full Spectrum provides a dominant amount of CBD and small varying amounts of other cannabinoids naturally existing in the hemp plant including 0.3% or less delta-9 THC and varying detectable and non-detectable amounts of terpenes.

Broad Spectrum is the same as a full spectrum minus the THC (zero delta-9 THC, zero delta-8 THC, zero delta-10 THC and zero of any other isomer of THC). These products are typically marketed to be “THC-Free”, “Zero THC”, “0.00% THC” or “0.00mg THC”.

CBD Isolate means the product contains only CBD and no other cannabinoids or any terpenes in it.

Full spectrum products are ideal for individuals who do not have a sensitivity to THC and are otherwise clear to use a CBD product with trace amounts of THC.  Broad spectrum products are ideal for individuals who want all the benefits of full spectrum minus the THC. A CBD isolate product is ideal for individuals who only want CBD and no other cannabinoids and terpenes in their product.

→ Learn more: Full Spectrum Hemp Extract Vs. Broad Spectrum Hemp Extract Vs. CBD Isolate

Final Thoughts

As reported by consumers, CBD has been effective for pain relief  for some. Whether CBD may be effective for your type of pain can only be determined by you.

If considering a CBD ingestible product, here’s a few things to keep in mind:

  • On average, human CBD studies report a CBD dose of up to 1,500 mg per day to be well tolerated. As a new user, 1,500 mg per day is too high and should not be your starting dose unless doctor recommended. Start with the product’s suggested serving amount to see if that amount works for you. If the amount is ineffective, gradually increase the amount and keep doing so until you feel a noticeable difference.
  • Depending on the cause of pain it may take a while before you notice any difference. Be patient. Remember that ingestible natural plant extracts do not work like prescription medications.
  • No matter the amount taken, CBD will not make you feel “high” like marijuana does.
  • Studies report that CBD has no potential for abuse. This means CBD is not addicting.
  • Studies also report that CBD does not cause any withdrawal side effects when CBD use is stopped.
  • If you have a sensitivity to THC or cannot use a CBD product with even a trace amount of THC, select a broad spectrum or CBD isolate formulation.

The information provided in this article is for educational purposes only. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. If you suffer from a medical condition or take prescription medications, consult a doctor before use about any potential interactions or other possible complications. 


**The list of surveys highlighted in this article are not exhaustive and do not represent a full list of all available data on consumer self-reporting on CBD use for pain relief and pain management.

WHO Expert Committee on Drug Dependence. Cannabidiol (CBD) Pre-Review Report: Agenda Item 5.2. World Health Organization. Thirty-ninth meeting, Geneva, 6-10 November 2017; 
UW Integrative Medicine, Department of Family Medicine. Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Some Frequently Asked Questions.

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