For many who suffer from chronic pain, CBD has been a saving grace, acting as a natural approach to pain relief. Back pain affects millions of people all around the world and is one of the main causes of disability, especially because pain management often seems futile. With so many forms of back pain, there isn’t a cure. Instead, it’s something that people have to live with daily.
There are a staggering 50% of Working Americans who have admitted to experiencing back pain symptoms each year. Even more shocking, some experts have estimated that up to 80% of the population are likely to suffer from some form of back pain at some point in their lives. When we think about this figure over the period of an adult’s average working life, together with the fact that most back problems will end up causing chronic pain issues, this is a truly scary statistic.
On a more positive note, CBD is becoming increasingly recognized and also recommended by medical professionals as an effective treatment option. As part of this article, we will explore what back pain is, how CBD can help, and what medical studies are saying about this issue.
Overview of Back pain
Back pain is a common condition, but it’s also a uniquely experienced one. Ranging from dull or throbbing aches felt in spine osteoarthritis to the sharp, shooting pain of a ruptured disc, back pain could be constant, come and go, be associated with neurological symptoms like tingling and numbness, or worsen with prolonged sitting or exercise. While back pain can be debilitating and frustrating, the good news is that the majority of cases improve or are revolved with minimal care, typically within a few weeks.
According to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, an estimated 75% to 85% of Americans will experience some form of back pain in their lifetime. Of these, 50% are likely to have more than one episode a year.
The human back has a complex structure of ligaments, disks, bones, muscles, and tendons which work together to support the body and allow people to walk around. The parts that make up the spine are cushioned with cartilage-like pads called disks. Problems with any one of these components can cause back pain. In some cases of back pain, the cause remains unclear.
Damage can occur from medical conditions, poor posture, and strain, among other things. Here is a list of the more common causes:
- Muscle strain/sprain: This is perhaps the most common cause of back pain, specifically in the lower back. A sprain refers to the tearing of a ligament, while a strain refers to the tearing of a tendon or muscle.
- Spine Osteoarthritis: This happens because of “wear and tear” of the cartilage that is found between the joints in the spine. As the cartilage gets worn away, you feel a dull aching, or sometimes throbbing, pain that gets worse with movement.
- Sciatica: This refers to the pinching or compression of the sciatic nerve, and is often caused by a bone spur or herniated disc.
- Bulging and ruptured disc: The spinal cords are found between adjacent vertebrae and work as shock-absorbing cushions. For various reasons – including trauma to the spine, smoking, weight gain, the natural aging process, and repetitive stress to the spine – the discs start to deteriorate over time, which makes them more prone to bulging or protruding outwards.
- Scoliosis: This is an ailment in which the spine twists and curves, like the letter “C” or “S.” It will usually develop during childhood or adolescence.
Although back pain can be caused by some of these serious conditions, the most common type is believed to be simple or “mechanical” back pain. This means that the pain isn’t related to any serious underlying conditions and there aren’t any compressed or trapped nerves. Back pain can be specified as either chronic or acute. Acute is any back pain that lasts fewer than six weeks, while chronic is back pain that lasts for 3 months or longer.
How and Why CBD Could Help in the Treatment of Back pain
While there hasn’t been an extensive number of studies done on the effects that CBD has when it comes to easing back pain, there’s enough evidence to suggest that it is an effective form of treatment. One thing that research has discovered is that CBD has strong anti-inflammatory properties, which is why it’s effective in treating back pain. It has also been suggested that by interacting with the endocannabinoid system (ECS) in the human body, CBD can significantly reduce neuropathic pain by increasing the levels of serotonin to ensure effective pain management.
The ECS contains thousands of cannabinoid receptors. It is the system that manages the interaction between different physiological processes such as memory, appetite, mood, and pain. The purpose of the receptors is to work together to keep the core functions of the body working in harmony.
CBD is quickly becoming an exciting potential in dealing with chronic back pain without turning to invasive medications that come with adverse side effects. What makes it exciting is that it’s inexpensive, seems to have very few side effects, is easy to use, and it has been scientifically proven that CBD can have a positive impact on the cannabinoid receptors in the body.
Generally, CBD seems to enhance the ability of the body to use the ECS more effectively. Above that, some studies have suggested that CBD slows down the body’s absorption of a compound that is known as anandamide, whose presence limits the feeling of pain. Basically, the more anandamide there is in the body, the less pain you will feel.
On top of that, through multiple medical studies, CBD has been proven to have anti-inflammatory properties. While you may remain skeptical, the fact is, conventional back pain medications are manufactured by huge pharmaceutical companies. They are expensive to buy and often come with a variety of side effects. It’s a big, profitable business, and naturally, a big business wouldn’t want to lose their fortune to something which costs so little in comparison.
Medical Findings: Effects of Cannabinoids and CBD on Back pain
So far, most of the evidence on the effects that CBD has on pain comes from animal-based research. When consumed orally, CBD has poor bioavailability. However, CBD that is applied topically to localized areas of pain is said to give more consistent levels of CBD with a less systematic involvement.
This research consists of a 2017 study that was published in the Journal of Pain. As part of this study, scientists observed that topical CBD treatment helped to thwart the development of joint pain that was evident in rats who had osteoarthritis.
While there are few human studies that have been done on the effects of CBD on back pain, there are studies that have been done on the effects that CBD has in similar conditions such as neuropathic pain and arthritis. Back pain may be partly neuropathic since sometimes there isn’t an actual injury, or the pain could be from a past injury that has long since healed.
A 2010 study that was done on Sativex and published in the Journal of Pain and Symptom Management found that a ratio of THC:CBD, 1:1, could be an effective cancer treatment. This study was replicated in 2013 and reported that Sativex could successfully treat cancer pain that didn’t respond well to opioids. The CBD produced no notable side effects, withdrawal, or dependence, and it also prevented patients from needing an increase in dosage or other pain medications.
Medical Benefits of Using CBD to Treat Back pain
Post-surgery pain management can be a dangerous road into an opioid addiction. Spending just one day on an opioid prescription painkiller can give you a 6% chance of finding yourself still depending on pills a year later, according to a study that was conducted between 2006 to 2015.
CBD is not an addictive substance, most certainly not in the way that opioids are. Patients from all walks of life are choosing to treat their back pain with CBD instead. Professional athletes from one of the most physically damaging contact sports, MMA, are the most well-known advocates.
How to Take CBD for Back pain
Now we get to the query of what the most effective method of using CBD to treat back pain is. A lot of this all comes down to the person and depends on numerous factors, including where the pain stems from and the severity of it. However, here are some of the most effective CBD methods that have been reported by back pain sufferers:
- CBD oil: This is possibly the most widely used of all CBD products. While CBD oil is available in various forms, the most popular to use is tinctures. Many patients like tinctures because they are easy to carry around, come into effect pretty swiftly, and are easy to administer. Also, tinctures are a concentrate, which means that they’re the strongest form of CBD oil around. You can place a couple of drops under your tongue for the fastest way to get the CBD into your bloodstream.
- CBD-based topicals: Many patients have reported that CBD-based topicals are incredible for easing back pain. Topicals are available in various forms including balms, oils, and lotions. The main difference between topicals and other forms of CBD is that topicals won’t actually breach the bloodstream. Instead, they penetrate the CB2 receptors through the skin.
Determining how much CBD you should take for back pain management is a difficult question. This is mainly because every person and problem is different. Typically, CBD dosage for pain is recommended to be around 25 mg. However, there are people who report positive effects with as little as 4.5 mg per day.
As a starting point, a dose of 4.5 mg per day either topically or orally is a good idea. You can up the dose every couple of days until you reach about 25 mg to see what effects it has.
Final Thoughts on CBD for Back pain
According to a recent study, chronic pain is the most common reason for people using medical cannabis. If you suffer from chronic back pain and haven’t been able to manage it with standard treatment, you might want to consider using CBD for some much-needed pain relief.
Thousands of people have reported that CBD works better than any other treatment that they have tried. So if you suffer from back pain and have tried just about everything with no effective pain relief, why don’t you think about giving CBD a try?