Updated on January 30, 2019. Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer
CBD can relieve the discomfort caused by back pain thanks to its interaction with our natural systems. Discover how and why CBD reduces this pain condition.
According to the Bone and Joint Initiative, 8.4 million people have chronic back pain that limits their daily living activities. You may have temporary (acute) back pain after an injury. However, when it becomes chronic, the pain can get in the way of living your life.
Chronic back pain causes physical and emotional symptoms. The pain can have a stinging, burning, tingling or achy feeling, depending on the cause. You might have difficulty moving or feel increased pain after standing or sitting. Some sources of back pain result in muscle spasms. Severe or chronic pain can cause anxiety, depression, sleep problems and difficulty concentrating.
If traditional treatments don’t relieve your back pain, you have an alternate choice: cannabidiol (CBD). This cannabinoid does not cause a “high” and provides pain relief in addition to other benefits.
Our bodies have a system dedicated to using compounds like the ones in marijuana. This endocannabinoid system uses cannabinoids, substances found in cannabis and the body, to regulate bodily functions. It helps our organs and systems do their intended jobs.
Endocannabinoid system researchers often examine its cannabinoid receptors, CB1 and CB2. They activate when a cannabinoid comes into contact with them and send messages to the rest of the body. These receptors regulate the immune system and nervous system, which both have a role to play in pain processing.
People who have chronic pain may have a dysregulated endocannabinoid system or need more cannabinoids than usual. Chronic back pain can cause the pain receptors to have incorrect regulation. If you experience this condition, your body might process sensory information in a way that causes unnecessary or excess pain. You may hurt even when you don’t have an injury in the affected area.
CBD has a different function in the endocannabinoid system than most cannabinoids. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), another primary cannabinoid in marijuana, activates the cannabinoid receptors on its own. Meanwhile, CBD doesn’t attach to them. Instead, it changes how our bodies create their own cannabinoids, which we call endocannabinoids.
When you take CBD medication, it helps your body use more anandamide, an essential endocannabinoid. Anandamide regulates basic functions such as pleasure, sleep and pain. CBD blocks FAAH, a fatty acid that breaks anandamide down. As a result, you experience more benefits from this endocannabinoid because it has more of a presence.
After CBD increases the amount of anandamide, it regulates your pain receptors. Any damaged or unbalanced pain receptors can have a more typical response to stimuli. As a result, you feel less pain and have increased function.
Thanks to marijuana’s pain-relieving properties, you can use a variety of THC/CBD formulas to treat back pain. Patients who prefer medicine with only CBD can decrease their symptoms. However, if you don’t mind taking medication with some THC in it, you can experience even stronger effects. Remember to follow your state’s laws to become an eligible patient who can obtain THC.
The CBD products available in your state and local area depends on the law. Officials can interpret CBD as legal or illegal, and the level of enforcement varies. You can check your local natural health store or online for hemp-derived CBD oil. We recommend reading the label and checking store and product reviews before making a purchase.
Medical CBD comes in multiple forms, and some product types relieve back pain better than others. You can apply creams, lotions or CBD oil to the skin in the affected area for localized relief. Patches, pills and edibles circulate CBD through your bloodstream, offering full-body benefits. Inhalers, vaporizers and smoked marijuana provide fast relief when you have a sudden episode.
Your choice of medicine depends on your individual symptoms and your doctor’s advice. A marijuana-educated doctor can give you an informed opinion on the right option. They can also help you adjust your dosage to find the best solution.
Learn more about Back Pain and what makes medical marijuana an effective treatment for Back Pain’s symptoms.