Medical Marijuana and Back Sprains
Although you want to follow your doctor’s advice and recommendations for handling back sprains, prescription painkillers aren’t always the best way to treat them. Narcotic drugs are potent and addictive, which is why many doctors suggest heat, ice and a few days of bed rest. Fortunately, you now have access to the pain-relieving cannabinoids in medical marijuana for back sprains treatment if you live in a state legalizing cannabis for medicinal use and receive a physician recommendation.
What Are Back Sprains?
Your back is a complicated structure of muscle and bone, supported by tendons, cartilage and ligaments. And these all feed into a network of nerves and blood vessels. Your back, particularly your lower back or lumbar, bears most of your body weight when running, walking, lifting and performing other activities. Because of this, it makes sense that lower back injuries like sprains are common.
Contributing factors to back sprains include:
- Fatigue: When your muscles are tired, they likely won’t provide proper joint support. You’re more inclined to succumb to forces potentially overextending a muscle or stress a joint when you’re tired.
- Poor conditioning: This may weaken your muscles, making it easier for you to sustain an injury.
- Improper warm-up: When you warm up properly before intense physical activity, you loosen up your muscles and increase the range-of-motion in your joints, keeping your muscles from tightening up and making them less susceptible to tears and trauma.
- Poor equipment: Poorly maintained or ill-fitting sporting equipment or footwear can increase your risk of a back sprain.
- Environmental conditions: Uneven or slippery surfaces may make you more vulnerable to injury.
What Are the Differences Between a Strain and a Sprain?
Strains and sprains are often used interchangeably in conversations about the causes of back pain; however, they’re not the same thing. While similar, each affects different back tissues.
Strains are injuries to either a tendon or muscle. Your tendons are fibrous, tough bands of tissue connecting your bone to muscle. When you suffer a back strain, you’ve pulled, twisted or torn the tendons and muscles supporting your spine.
Sprains are the tearing or stretching of a ligament. Your ligaments are also fibrous bands of tissue. They connect two of your bones, or sometimes more, at a joint, preventing too much movement of your joint.
When you expose your back to excessive physical demands, it can result in a sprain. Certain things can cause your soft tissues — i.e., tendons, muscles, ligaments — to stretch too much. These include:
- Sudden fall
- Lifting something heavy
- Sports injury
- Car crash
Certain factors can increase your risk for a back sprain, such as:
- Being overweight
- Excessively curving your lower back
- Having tight hamstrings
- Having weak abdominal or back muscles
- Playing sports involving pulling or pushing, such as football or weightlifting
To illustrate a sprain, think about what occurs when you lift a heavy object. At first, your body recruits your muscles to manage the load. Once the force or load goes beyond what your muscles can cope with, your ligaments share the force. When you stress a ligament beyond its strength, it results in tears.
When you overstretch, tear or overuse tendons, ligaments, muscles or combinations, local tissues swell. Swelling causes tenderness, pain and stiffness. The swelling restricts movement and acts as a protectant to an injured back — sort of like a splint for a broken arm or leg.
Symptoms of Back Sprains
Sprains often cause an aching, broad pain across your lower back — sometimes limited to one side. You might have difficulty standing up straight or bending your back. Common back sprain symptoms include:
- A “pop” sound or sensation at the time of injury
- Limited ability to move the joint affected
In some cases, you might experience a muscle spasm, particularly when you’re sleeping or moving around. Muscle spasms can cause your back muscles to turn into a painful, hard knot.
Effects of Back Sprains
When you stretch or tear your lower back soft tissues, the neighboring area will likely become inflamed. Local swelling or inflammation is your body’s way of responding naturally to an injury where your blood rushes to the injured tissue to restore it. Inflamed muscles can feel tender to the touch, spasm, contract tightly or cramp — all causing intense pain.
If you don’t make any efforts in changing the habits contributing to the issue, you risk your back sprain developing into a chronic condition. While you can’t prevent all injuries to your back, you can take some preventative measures to help lower your risk of a back sprain, including:
- Eating a well-balanced, healthy diet to keep your muscles and bones strong.
- Maintaining a healthy weight, since extra weight adds stress to your lower back structures.
- Stretching and exercising regularly to keep your muscles in good condition and your joints flexible.
- Using proper body mechanics when standing, sitting and lifting. This means keeping your feet flat on the floor and bending your knees when sitting, holding your shoulders back and back straight at all times.
- Practicing safety measures like wearing properly fitting shoes and keeping walkways and stairs clutter free to help prevent falls.
- Avoiding twisting movements and not over-reaching. When you’re lifting something, balance the load using your strong leg muscles and bend your knees.
- Quitting smoking, since nicotine interferes with your muscles’ blood flow.
Chronic back pain sufferers often show signs of depression, reports The Spine Institute. This isn’t surprising. Unrelenting and severe pain can wear anyone down by keeping them from eating or sleeping well and adding to your everyday stress. These all together or on their own keep you from being active physically and discourage you from participating in social activities or hobbies you have interest in.
The symptoms also can wreak havoc on your emotional wellbeing, especially if this is pain recurring from a previous back injury you already received treatment for. Certain medications meant to control pain can also contribute to symptoms of depression.
Back Sprain Statistics
The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke estimates that:
- In some point in life, around 80 percent of adults have lower back pain — usually causing missed days at work and job-related disability.
- Around 20 percent of individuals experiencing acute lower back pain end up developing chronic back pain
Current Treatments Available for Back Sprains and Their Side Effects
Treating back sprains depend on the severity of the injury and the joint involved.
Conservative Approaches to Treating Back Sprains
If you’re experiencing severe pain, you’ll want to see your doctor to rule out other more severe conditions than a sprain. Most individuals with a back sprain should experience limited recovery in a couple of days and complete recovery in a few weeks with conservative approaches.
The first conservative approach to treat a back sprain and reduce pain and risk of muscle spasms is to use cold packs for reducing inflammation and swelling and bed rest for the first couple days. Applying pressure to the injury during your first 48 hours and taking ibuprofen or other OTC nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) can be helpful, too.
After your pain has gone away, typically in your first two days, you can try to reintroduce gentle activity and movement gradually. You don’t want to rest too much since this can lead to your soft tissues and muscles tightening up and prolong your injury. Simple stretching along with swimming, walking or other low-impact activities can help you exercise and flex injured muscles but not overwork them. Exercise is good to keep your back free and loose and improve circulation, which helps speed healing.
Medications for Back Sprains
If you have a mild sprain, your doctor will probably suggest basic self-care steps and OTC pain relievers like ibuprofen or Tylenol. However, if your sprain is causing you extreme pain, your physician might talk to you about taking stronger pain medicine, such as opioids.
Therapy for Back Sprains
If you have a more moderate sprain, your doctor will likely tell you to apply ice to the affected area to reduce swelling. With a severe sprain, your doctor will most likely prescribe a splint or brace to immobilize the area.
Surgery for Back Sprains
If you’ve ruptured a muscle or torn a ligament, your doctor may recommend surgery.
Exercises for Preventing Future Back Pain
Exercising can help you:
- Strengthen your abdomen and back
- Improve your posture and flexibility
- Avoid falls
- Lose weight
A comprehensive exercise regimen should include things like swimming, walking or riding a bike or stationary bicycle. You’ll also want to incorporate strength training and stretching. Always follow your doctor’s or physical therapist’s advice.
Start off with some light cardio training. Riding a stationary bike, walking or swimming are good examples. These aerobic activities promote healing and improve blood flow. They also strengthen your back and stomach muscles.
Until your physical therapist or doctor says it’s okay, avoid these exercises while you’re still in recovery mode:
- Contact sports
- Racquet sports
Strengthening exercises and stretching are essential in the long run. Remember, you can make your pain worse if you start these exercises immediately after your injury. Your physical therapist or doctor can let you know the best time to start these types of exercises and how you should perform them properly.
How and Why Marijuana Can Be an Effective Treatment for Back Sprains
Combining the pain-relieving cannabinoids in marijuana and back sprains treatment can be a good option if you’re dealing with pain from a back sprain. Marijuana also provides you with a sedative effect to help you relax your muscles and help you sleep better. These both help speed up your recovery.
The Institute of Medicine published a report showing evidence of cannabis’s cannabinoids helping with acute pain and spinal cord injury. Another study the University of Colorado Spine Center released showed medical weed was able to relieve back pain more efficiently and safely than opioids. Around 85 percent of the patients in the study showed moderate pain relief and 77 percent said cannabis treatment was greater than or at least equal to opioids.
What Side Effects and Symptoms of Back Sprains Can Medical Marijuana Treat?
Cannabis and back sprains treatment help calm your back pain in numerous ways, including:
- Reducing your need to take other potentially addictive and harmful drugs.
- Relieving anxiety, depression and insomnia — symptoms often resulting from chronic pain.
- Improving the quality of your life.
- Reducing or eliminating pain so you can live an active lifestyle.
- Achieving peace of mind since you know you’re treating your back pain with a natural treatment.
It also helps with:
Best Strains of Marijuana to Use for Back Sprains Symptoms and Treatment Side Effects
Nobody wants to deal with persistent back pain. If you’re struggling with chronic back pain or even just an acute back sprain, you want to eliminate it. Below are strains of medical marijuana for back sprains. The CBD in these strains reduces inflammation back pain, and the THC helps tackle the pain. Useful cannabis strains to try include:
- Candyland — Sativa
- Headband — Hybrid
- OG Kush — Hybrid
- Skywalker OG — Hybrid
- Bubba Kush — Indica
Other strains include:
- King Kong — Hybrid
- Violator Kush — Indica
- Master OG — Indica
- Wedding Cake — Hybrid
It’s beneficial to reach out to your budtender or marijuana doctor to help select the strain that works best for you.
Best Methods of Marijuana Treatment to Use to Treat Side Effects and Symptoms of Back Sprains
Medical marijuana has the pain-relieving cannabinoids that may help a sprained back. Medical marijuana relieves enough pain and eases the patient to sleep so the body then can start healing appropriately.
If you are a parent, you may not want to let junior see you inhale or have them around when you do take your dose of medical marijuana. However, gone are the days when inhaling was the only way to take medical marijuana. If you choose not to smoke, you can find a number of other ways to take your medicine.
Medical Cannabis for Back Sprains Treatments
For back sprain patients, probably the best means to take medical marijuana is through a topical solution. Marijuana dispensaries might have the ingredients on hand for you to mix your own. These are not to be ingested, and no psychoactive effect will occur, leaving you free to parent and able to move about with less pain.
Much like using Icy Hot or BenGay, you can mix cannabis oil with aloe vera or beeswax balm for a thicker paste application. If you can reach the sprained area without assistance, you can apply this by rubbing it in and pulling on a warm T-shirt, so the topical doesn’t mess your clothes. Moving slowly and carefully about the house, not lifting anything for several days and resting when you can will speed the healing process. Get help if you can’t reach the sprained area without pain.
You can always try edibles like:
- Baked goods
- Gluten-free options
Edibles do take a little longer to take effect, and their potency varies. If you do prefer inhaling your treatment, you’ll find many water pipes or vaporizers that won’t cause substantial lung damage, and you can gauge your response to the treatment properly while administering it.
Another option is raw juice. Juicing functions similar to a dietary supplement where you don’t get the psychoactive effect but you still get the pain relief.
Find Relief From Back Sprains With Medical Cannabis
Marijuana Doctors provides you with a thorough list of cannabis doctors and clinics all over the U.S where states have legalized medical pot. Before considering medical weed for your back sprain injury, be sure it’s legal in your state. Each state has a list of qualifying conditions, and some have stricter guidelines than others. While one state may approve a certain condition for cannabis, another may not. Therefore, it’s imperative you clarify that first. We can help you figure out if your state does indeed legalize medical weed for your ailment.
If you’re having trouble finding a dispensary or a medical marijuana doctor, either it isn’t legal in your state yet, or you can check with the MarijuanaDoctors.com locator. Back sprains hurt, and they demand treatment that will give you immediate relief. See how Marijuana Doctors can assist you by using our resources today.
This information is not provided by medical professionals and is intended only to complement, and not to replace or contradict, any health or medical advice or information provided by healthcare professionals. If you have any questions, please contact your doctor or other healthcare professional.