CBD/Cannabis Ranks Second Most Popular Treatment for Chronic Pain
Among American Adults

An online survey conducted from September 21-23, 2021 by The Harris Poll on behalf of Samueli Foundation solicited responses from 2,063 American adults ages 18 and older and reports that 1,138 (55%) currently experience chronic pain. Pain is considered chronic when it has lasted 3 months or longer. The purpose of this survey was to learn the number of Americans experiencing chronic pain, how they managed their pain, and whether the pandemic impacted their pain and pain management.

Among the 1,138 chronic pain sufferers, 49% identified themselves as female and 50% identified themselves as male.

The participants represented all generations with 33% being 18-34 years old, 16% being 35-44 years old, 15% between 45-54 years old, 16% being 55-64 years old and 21% being over 65 years old.  A majority of them live in the South (38%), followed by the West (24%), Midwest (21%) and Northeast (17%) regions of the United States.

Key Findings

  • 56% suffer with chronic pain and 73% feel pain every day.
  • 30% have chronic pain in their back, 21% in their knees, 16% in their shoulders, and 14% in their neck.
  • 70% report using medicinal/therapeutic treatments for relieving pain. Among these, the second most popular pain treatment is cannabis or CBD (16%). Americans started using both of these more since the start of the pandemic, with 37% using more over-the-counter pain relievers and 14% using CBD or cannabis more often to help manage their pain.
  • After the pandemic began, roughly 25% say stress and anxiety over the pain and not being able to sleep has caused their pain to worsen.
  • 80% are finding ways to manage their pain on their own with 63% wishing they had more information about how to do so.
  • 83% would like to avoid taking opioids to manage their pain.
  • 64% are under stress due to their chronic pain.
  • 83% feel their quality of life would significantly improve if they were able to better manage their chronic pain.
  • 79% wish healthcare providers took their chronic pain more seriously.

While clinical studies are lacking “to support the effectiveness of cannabis and CBD in treating common chronic pain conditions … [w]e know cannabis and CBD can be effective in treating pain that stems from various conditions….” Wayne Jonas, MD, executive director of Integrative Health Programs at Samueli Foundation


Chronic Pain Survey Results by The Harris Poll prepared for Samueli Foundation, September 2021
New Media Life Sciences, Survey: Young adults with chronic pain more likely to use cannabis or CBD oil to manage the condition, published October 27, 2021, last accessed November 3, 2021

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