Updated on January 25, 2019. Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer
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.
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:
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:
Certain factors can increase your risk for a back sprain, such as:
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.
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:
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.
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:
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.
The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke estimates that:
Treating back sprains depend on the severity of the injury and the joint involved.
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.
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.
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.
If you’ve ruptured a muscle or torn a ligament, your doctor may recommend surgery.
Exercising can help you:
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:
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.
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.
Cannabis and back sprains treatment help calm your back pain in numerous ways, including:
It also helps with:
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:
Other strains include:
It’s beneficial to reach out to your budtender or marijuana doctor to help select the strain that works best for you.
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.
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:
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.
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.