- Aches & Pains
How Could CBD Oil for Back Pain Help You?
Why use CBD oil for back pain? The primary method of treatment typically involves painkillers. OTC drugs are relatively weak and don’t provide long-term benefits. More potent drugs offer greater relief but could result in addiction. When you use CBD for back pain, you could see a benefit without the risk of side effects or dependency.
Unquestionably, we need something to treat back pain. Globally, it is the leading cause of disability and prevents people from working and performing everyday activities. Half of all Americans claim they experience back pain symptoms at least once a year. Back pain is the reason for up to 264 million lost workdays per annum in the United States alone.
It is a problem that affects all ages, from kids to seniors. According to experts, up to 80% of people experience back pain at some stage in their lives. Its prevalence is growing. Since 1990, there has been a 54% worldwide increase in years lived with disability caused by back pain.
Back pain occurs for various reasons, and we explore them below. We also take a closer look at CBD for chronic back pain. Americans spend up to $50 billion annually on treating back pain. What if there was a naturally-occurring solution on our doorstep?
What Is Back Pain?
As you can guess, it is characterized by pain in the back. What many people don’t realize is how complicated the condition often is. It affects men and women equally and ranges in intensity from a dull constant ache to a sudden, sharp sensation. You could get back pain from an accident, lifting something heavy, or due to inactivity.
To learn more about the issue, you need to understand the structures of the back. Most back pain occurs in the lower region, which includes the five vertebrae in the lumbar region. Experts refer to them as L1-L5. This region supports much of the upper body’s weight. There are intervertebral discs in the gaps between the vertebrae. Think of these round, rubbery pads as shock absorbers that cushion your bones as you move.
Bands of tissue called ligaments hold the vertebrae in place, and some tendons attach your back muscles to your spinal column. In total, there are 31 pairs of nerves rooted in the spinal cord. They control your body’s movements and send signals to the brain from the body.
If you feel pain in the upper back, it is possibly due to spine inflammation, chest tumors, or aorta disorders. One of the main issues associated with back pain is back spasms, which are potentially debilitating.
Back Pain Causes
Most back pain instances are mechanical. Spondylosis leads to many cases of back pain. This condition involves degradation of the spine due to wear and tear of the bones, joints, and discs. Other ‘mechanical’ causes include:
- Back Strain: This is an injury to a muscle or tendon. In contrast, a back sprain happens when you tear or stretch a ligament.
- Herniated Disc Injury: You can get a ruptured or herniated disc when your intervertebral discs become compressed and bulge outward. The result is severe low back pain.
- Sciatica: You have sciatica when your sciatic nerve is compressed. It is a large nerve that travels through the buttocks and down the back of the leg. You feel a shocking or burning low back pain down one leg and the buttocks. In rare cases, symptoms include numbness and muscle weakness in the leg.
- Spinal Stenosis: This is when your spinal column becomes narrow. This process places excess pressure on the spinal cord and nerves. When walking, you may feel pain and numbness. Eventually, you will experience weakness of the legs and sensory loss.
Other potential causes include:
- Abnormal spine curvatures such as lordosis, kyphosis, and scoliosis
- Intervertebral disc degeneration
- A traumatic injury
Types of Back Pain
In general, we can group back pain into three categories:
- Axial Pain: Often called ‘mechanical pain,’ Axial pain stays in one area. Descriptions include a sharp, dull pain that comes and goes. It is also a constant throbbing pain. Common causes include annular disc tears and muscle strains.
- Referred Pain: This type of pain is dull, moves around, and varies in intensity. One of the most common causes is degenerative disc disease.
- Radicular Pain: Patients with radicular pain often say it feels like they suffer an electric shock. It follows the spinal nerve’s path as it leaves the spinal canal. It can travel down the leg if it affects your lower back. Causes include spinal nerve root inflammation or compression.
In terms of diagnosis, your doctor will examine your back. The exam includes assessing your capacity to stand, sit, walk, and lift your legs. The physician might ask you to rate your pain rate on a scale of 0-10. Possible tests include X-rays, MRI or CT scans, bone scans, and blood tests.
Back Pain Treatment
Engaging in home care for a few weeks is a wise option. When done correctly, you should find that acute back pain improves. Avoid regular physical activity for a few days to calm symptoms and reduce inflammation. Apply ice or heat to the affected area. Ideally, you will use ice for the first 2-3 days, followed by heat.
There are numerous back pain medication options, including:
- OTC Painkillers: These include Advil, Aleve, and Motrin IB. Don’t assume that over-the-counter drugs are ‘safe.’ Overuse can lead to harmful side effects.
- Topical Pain Relievers: These are ointments, creams, or salves that you rub into the skin at the site of the pain.
- Antidepressants: Small doses of amitriptyline could relieve certain types of chronic back pain.
- Muscle Relaxants: These can reduce pain but may cause drowsiness.
- Narcotics: Drugs such as oxycodone are often used, but only for a short period. Opioids don’t do much for chronic pain, so a physician will only prescribe a small number of pills.
Back surgery is another option, though few people ever need it. You should only consider surgery if you have unrelenting pain associated with radiating leg pain. It is also an option for patients with progressive muscle weakness due to nerve compression. Surgery types include:
- Spinal fusion
- Artificial Disk insertion
If going under the knife doesn’t sound like a viable option, perhaps you should consider CBD oil for back pain?
CBD Oil for Back Pain
You can purchase CBD oil for back pain derived from marijuana or hemp. If it is the former, you need a medical marijuana card. You must also live in one of the 33 states that permit MMJ. In the latter case, you should find it easy to locate CBD in most states as long as it contains no more than 0.3% THC.
The suggestion is that CBD for back pain helps relieve inflammation, a significant factor in chronic back pain. It might also help combat anxiety, aid sleep, and result in an overall feeling of relaxation. There is a belief that cannabidiol affects how a person perceives pain. In general, CBD is a full-body treatment. However, you can use CBD cream for back pain by rubbing on a specific area of the body.
Possible side effects include dry mouth, drowsiness, dizziness, and low blood pressure. Nonetheless, research suggests that the compound is well-tolerated in most instances. Even the World Health Organization (WHO) says it has an excellent safety profile.
What Do Studies Say?
In 2008, Ethan Russo published a study in Therapeutics and Clinical Risk Management. The study’s purpose was to analyze the effects of cannabinoids in patients with ‘hard to treat’ pain. Russo looked at a variety of studies, including a few that he authored! He concluded that cannabinoids have the potential to treat pain and also cause minimal side effects. Russo suggested that they also have possible antiemetic effects.
A study by Xiong W., published in the Journal of Experimental Medicine in June 2012, looked at cannabinoids’ effect on inflammation. It found that they suppress inflammatory and neuropathic pain via the targeting of alpha-3 glycine receptors.
Cunetti et al. published a study from Uruguay in Transplantation Proceedings in March 2018. It looked at the effect of CBD on patients who suffered chronic pain after a kidney transplant. Seven patients received between 50mg and 150mg of CBD twice a day for three weeks. Two of the patients reported total pain improvement, and four others had a partial response within 15 days.
Despite the importance of finding ways to tackle chronic pain, there are curiously few clinical trials into CBD and pain. At present, we are reliant on non-clinical studies, many of which involve rodents. While results are promising, there isn’t enough evidence for the FDA to approve CBD as a medical treatment. An exception is a synthetic drug, Epidiolex, which contains CBD. It is the only FDA-approved cannabidiol product on the market at present.
How to Take CBD Oil for Back Pain
There are numerous ways to consume CBD for back pain. CBD oil tinctures are popular because they are easy to use. Hold a few drops beneath your tongue, wait 60-90 seconds, and swallow the tincture. By consuming in this fashion, you enable the sublingual gland to absorb the CBD. The result is a higher rate of bioavailability than if you orally consume cannabidiol as you do with CBD capsules.
People enjoy CBD edibles due to their taste and convenience. They take longer to reach the bloodstream however, and have a low absorption rate. It is also a fact that the FDA doesn’t permit vendors to add the compound to food or drink. This hasn’t stopped the growth of the edibles market! You can also vape CBD for higher bioavailability and a faster effect.
In general, CBD topicals are an excellent option for back pain. You rub the cream, lotion, or salve into the part of the body that hurts. You get targeted localized relief. It doesn’t have a particularly high bioavailability, but anecdotal reports are very positive.
Final Thoughts on CBD Oil for Back Pain
Unfortunately, we don’t yet have enough evidence to say that CBD oil for back pain is effective. Research is ongoing, however, and there are encouraging results to date. What we need are more clinical studies into CBD for back pain. Without them, there is no chance that the FDA will ever approve the cannabinoid for medical treatment.
If you decide to use CBD for chronic back pain, consult with a doctor first. CBD could interact with some drugs, so make sure you perform thorough research before use.