CBD Oil for Back Pain: Does it Work? A Complete Guide

All of us have probably experienced back pain at one point in our lives or another, with the pain felt ranging from mild to excruciating. While some cases of back pain point to an underlying cause, others are simply the result of a workout gone too far or even bad posture!

CBD has risen in popularity in the field of pain relief. Its anti-inflammatory properties make it a useful option for those wanting to branch out from traditional painkillers.

CBD oil and back pain

The rise in cannabis-based products worldwide has thrust CBD oil into the spotlight as a viable treatment option for pain relief. One of the most common reasons for needing pain relief is back pain.

In fact, back pain is so common that studies have suggested that 50-80% of adults will experience at least one form of back pain at some point in their lives. Here’s how CBD use can help ease back pain.

Arthritis

Arthritis, which is the inflammation of joints, can cause pain and stiffness throughout the body, leading to swelling and extreme pain over the whole back. Back arthritis often occurs due to overuse of the joints in the spine, infection, or widespread inflammation. It can also be due to everyday wear and tear from manual work or old injuries. Arthritis is more common than you think!

Researchers have found evidence proving that CBD can play a part in relieving arthritis in the back. A recent study found that topical CBD application in individuals reduced pain levels and joint inflammation, suggesting CBD as an effective potential treatment for arthritis-associated pain.

As the pain-relieving benefits of CBD are still in their early stages, more research is still needed to find any conclusive evidence. However, after summarizing past research papers investigating osteoarthritis and CBD relationships, researchers concluded that CBD use for arthritis treatment is promising.

Spinal injury

Spinal injury is considered a condition that causes acute pain, indicating a severe form of back pain, which often leads to numbness of limbs or paralysis. Spinal injury can be caused in many ways. 

Car accidents, falls, and sport/recreation activities are common causes of spinal injury. These can result in injuries that often lead to premature wear and tear, with long- standing pain from the injury itself. This is due to the number of nerve endings present in the spine.

The research looking at CBD as a possible treatment for spinal pain is still in its infancy. Researchers in 2014 looked at rats and found that CBD was able to reduce the severity of pain and damage caused by discs in the vertebrae due to spinal injury. After giving a CBD dose, results showed a reduction in disc injury and pain output.

Another study investigated how cannabis was able to reduce the pain from spinal injuries in more severe cases. Researchers discovered cannabis could stimulate a positive response by activating CB1 and CB2 receptors within the body. The findings reported that increased recovery time was promoted.

Because many studies have looked at cannabis use to treat spinal injuries, compared to CBD alone, it can be hard to determine if CBD itself is the compound that promotes the effects. More human studies are required before any conclusive statements can be made!

Chronic inflammation

While back pain can have many causes, a common one is inflammation levels within the body. This often occurs as the immune system attacks the joints within your spine to try and combat inflammation.

There are many examples of inflammation that can affect back pain. Ankylosing spondylitis, a form of inflammatory arthritis affecting the spine and common amongst men, can appear early in the teenage years. Another form of inflammatory arthritis is Psoriatic arthritis. This condition can affect people with psoriasis on the back, a skin condition resulting in swelling, stiffness, and joint pain. 

Most studies investigating CBD’s role in lowering inflammation have been with animals. However, many researchers still believe that the results of those studies still show therapeutic potential.

One of the more famous studies is a 2016 study that looked at CBD’s effects on rats with joint inflammation. Researchers applied CBD directly to the rats’ skin (topically). They found joint swelling was reduced, alongside lowered pain levels amongst the rats. Side effects were also tested, with no adverse side effects seen after treatment.

How does CBD help back pain?

How CBD regulates pain lies in its interaction with the endocannabinoid system. The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a cell-signalling system present in your body that affects many processes, from energy output to the immune system.

Many researchers believe CBD interacts with ECS receptors in your brain and immune system, creating anti-inflammatory effects alongside pain relief. These receptors can receive CBD chemical signals, helping cells throughout your body, including in your back, to respond appropriately.

Because of this, CBD can not only help reduce inflammation, which decreases a significant cause of back pain, but it can also change how your brain perceives the pain!

How to use CBD oil for back pain

The most common (and fastest!) way of using CBD oil is by placing several drops under your tongue. This increases CBD absorption to your bloodstream, allowing you to be headache-free in a shorter time.

Other ways of using CBD oil include putting it on the skin and in smoothies or soups. There is no ‘right way’ of taking CBD. Instead, find one that suits your preferences and headache needs.

If you are interested in using CBD oil, talk to your doctor beforehand. CBD can sometimes interact with other medications, so it’s essential to make sure CBD is the right fit for you.

CBD side effects

CBD is considered safe and well-tolerated; however, some side effects can still occur. These include changes in bowel habits or appetite, dizziness, nausea, and fatigue.

To combat side effects as much as possible, try choosing high-quality CBD products over cheaper alternatives. CBD products can often range in quality and, therefore, effectiveness, so sourcing CBD from reputable companies is essential.

If you are worried about potential side effects and how they may affect your quality of life, talk to your doctor.

The bottom line

CBD is a popular option for all types of pain management, including back pain. CBD has been shown to treat some of the common causes of back pain, including arthritis, spinal injury, and chronic inflammation.

CBD can also interact with other medications and cause some side effects, so talk to your doctor before determining if CBD is a good option for you.

MBChB (Otago), BSc (Auckland) - As our tele-medicine doctor and author, Dr. Waseem keeps busy educating both patients and doctors about medicinal cannabis. He also consults with people from all over New Zealand, offering a listening ear and giving the most relevant advice.

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