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Managing Back Pain with Cannabis

Your back is a part of your body crucial for support and movement. It is a sophisticated system containing discs, bones, tendons, and ligaments all working together so that we can be flexible, so having pain in that area decreases your mobility and quality of life. Back pain can be caused by a number of things starting with a sedentary lifestyle, bad posture, being overweight, and high impact activities, to old age and the inevitable degeneration of intervertebral discs. The more serious kinds of back pain originate from trapped nerves and slipped discs, which are usually caused by sport-related injuries, slips, and falls. Patients can sometimes also feel the pain radiating through other lower body parts such as the legs and feet, indicative of sciatica. Other underlying conditions include arthritis and osteoporosis, which while preventable, are irreversible once they have set.

There exists several off-the-shelf treatments for back pain, but these only work for a small window of time. In some severe cases, doctors prescribe opioid medication, which has negative side effects and is highly addictive. Many patients turn to physical therapists to learn how to compensate their movements around their back, but when the damage has been done, little can be done to reverse it, and the pain always remains.

Those who suffer from chronic back pain can tell you that the pain is their worst and most difficult symptom. Lumbago and lower back issues aren’t the only problem: people also suffer from upper back pain and side back pain, sometimes even a combination of them all. The American Academy of Pain Medicine says that more than 26 million Americans from 20 to 64 years old suffer from frequent back pain, making it one of the most common causes of pain across all age groups, as well as the leading cause of disability for Americans under 45, a trend that has slowly been on the rise since the 1990s. A large part of the treatment for back pain consists of minimization as well as pain management, with invasive surgery only as a last resort.

As the number of states allowing the medicinal use of cannabis increases, so does the interest in the utilization of this substance to manage back pain. Federal prohibition on the usage of marijuana has slowed down its progress, but the body of research that point to cannabis as an effective and natural means of treating a variety of disorders, pains, and illnesses is growing steadily, especially since cannabis has started entering the mainstream market. 


The marijuana plant has up to 60 different compounds called cannabinoids, each with varying effects on the mind and body. Listed here are the most commonly isolated cannabinoids: 

  • THC
  • THCV
  • THCA
  • CBD
  • CBDA
  • CBDV
  • CBN
  • CBG
  • CBE
  • CBL
  • CBT

The compound that gives marijuana its famous “high” is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), and it is probably the most sought-after and well-known component of marijuana. Its psychedelic effects have ingrained itself into the popular consciousness, with the perpetually calm, yet comically nonsensical and happy-go-lucky stoner as its mascot. The compound associated with the most therapeutic effects, however, is cannabidiol (CBD)

CBD itself isn’t psychoactive, so when isolated from the other compounds, it does not cause the psychological and intoxicating effects associated with marijuana usage. Strains of marijuana that virtually contain no THC are already being cultivated, and extracts containing solely CBD—usually as cannabis oil—are available in states where medicinal marijuana is legal.

CBD is effective in the management of back pain as it interacts with the endocannabinoid system, a network of cannabinoid receptors found in the human body. This interaction reduces pain intensity as well as inflammation. While the usual pain-killing drugs such as opioids are habit-forming and have multiple negative side effects, researchers are finding little to none of the same effects from CBD use. Here are some of the most crucial findings about this cannabinoid: 

  • Management of Chronic and Acute PainIn a study published in Current Neuropharmacology, researchers traced the pathways the endocannabinoid system takes when dealing with chronic and acute pain. The results indicate a unique pain managing effect, which avoids unwanted side effects in the central nervous system.
  • Unique Pain Managing Effect – A team conducted a study on using marijuana oil for pain, and found that it had the ability to reduce the potential of harmful opioids when minimizing pain conditions.
  • Degenerative Disc Disease Reduction – A study done on mice with degenerative disc disease found improved outcomes with higher dosages of CBD. Though the exact pathway remains unknown, researchers found that the damage to the spinal areas of the mice have been reduced.

Research And Studies Show That Cannabis May Be Able To Help With Chronic Pain.

How Does CBD Oil Work for Back Pain?

Cannabis oil for back pain works by inhibiting neuronal transmissions in pain pathways. It interacts with the body’s endocannabinoid system, which is vital for the regulation of our many bodily functions. CBD oil also reduces inflammation, which usually accompanies pain. It is effective both as a topical application as well as in the form of edibles. Ingestion of CBD oil has been compared to taking an aspirin, as it provides a reduction of pain all over the body. However, while aspirin can’t completely cut off the pain, rubbing CBD oil over affected areas minimizes the pain.

One of the most common ways of ingestion is by applying a few drops of CBD oil underneath the tongue, which is known as sublingual delivery. It gets absorbed into the bloodstream this way, as there are multiple beds of small capillaries under the tongue. This method bypasses the metabolic process of the digestive system, which usually takes more time to relieve pain. Sublingual administration has been known as one of the simplest— as well as one of the most discreet— methods of getting a dose of CBD oil for back pain. All that is required is a small bottle with a dropper and a moment to administer it yourself.

Another simple method is to rub CBD oil directly on the sore spots on your back. This spot treatment is effective as the rubbing motion also stimulates blood flow and muscle relaxation. This method produces anti-inflammatory effects by merely penetrating the CB2 receptors in the affected area. This method may require you to get assistance in spreading the oil on hard to reach parts of your back, but it has been effective in targeting chronic back pain.

People have also been known to cook with CBD oil. It is similar to other edible cooking oils such as vegetable oil, coconut oil, and olive oil. CBD oil can also be a decent fat substitute for baking. Others have turned to using CBD oil in vapes to smoke its vapors without distributing any secondhand smoke, delivering the CBD straight into the system.

Patients taking CBD oil to manage and relieve their back pain also report that their moods have improved after taking it daily. They report that over time, this effect also boosted their cognitive abilities, thereby giving them a more positive and productive outlook on life, and they prefer it by far to being constantly sluggish and spaced out as a result of using opioids to relieve pain. This positive effect is also calming and helps patients sleep easier—something that’s difficult to do when you are suffering from chronic pain.

It’s also useful to take note that CBD oil has different dosages. When you decide that CBD oil is the best course of action for your back pain, be sure to consult your doctor, as well as any local budtenders in your area.

Known Side Effects

The use of CBD oil in managing back pain shows little to no side effect on nervous system functions as well as the body’s autonomic functions—body temperature, heart rate, blood pressure, and respiration to name a few. It does affect the salivary gland, however, resulting in possibly one of its only major side effects: a condition known as cotton mouth.

Cotton mouth is by definition the feeling of having a dry mouth. For many users who enjoy the benefits of back pain management by using CBD oil, dry mouth is a small price to pay, and many of them don’t even consider it that much of a side effect. When using CBD oil as a topical solution on your back, cotton mouth is an unlikely possibility. Other forms of ingestion such as sublingual and ingestion of an edible guarantees this somewhat inconvenient consequence.

One concern for many patients being introduced to CBD for their back pain is the “high” that is commonly associated with cannabis products. CBD oil cannot get anyone high as it has been produced to specifically minimize the THC component while maximizing CBD levels. CBD products are highly unlikely to cause any psychedelic effects as any THC that might have made it into the mix is far too low in concentration to have an effect. When buying your CBD oil, always be sure to check the labels; any CBD product produced for medical purposes should have less than 1% THC in them.

One other important side effect of CBD oil that users should take note of is its ability to inhibit liver enzymes from metabolizing certain pharmaceuticals. One example is blood pressure medication: combining it with CBD oil for back pain will make it lose its effectiveness. However, this will only come into effect with ingestion, and not when you rub the oil onto your body. Regardless of the minimal side effects, always be sure to talk to your doctor about other interactions with medication before taking CBD oil for your back pain. 

Find Respite From Intense And Extreme Pain: This Is SOOTHE.

CBD Oil for Other Types of Pain

Pain encompasses a pretty wide spectrum and can include mental as well as physical pain. Those with mental health problems have been turning to cannabis products devoid of THC, as THC can sometimes act as a depressant that cancels out the therapeutic effects of CBD.

CBD has proven its track record of treating the most basic aches and pains such as toothaches, headaches, to symptoms of even the most “untreatable” of diseases. This is a relief for patients who have been constantly suffering from chronic pain, appetite loss, nausea, and complications stemming from diabetes.

CBD is also a recommended alternative to opioids when it comes to post-surgery pain management. Suffering from prolonged, severe pain after surgery can often lead to opioid addiction. A CDC study from 2006-2015 shows that just a single day on a prescribed opioid-based painkiller will give you up to a 6% chance of popping pills—a sure sign of addiction—just about a year later. As CBD is not addicting, patients will not find themselves downing entire bottles of CBD oil to satiate a sudden dependency. 

Conclusion: Should You Try CBD Cannabis Oil for Your Back Pain?

It’s been established that CBD oil, as well as other CBD products in general, have very little side effects and will not induce any psychedelic effects. The only thing patients will have to lose is their back pain—and perhaps also the feeling of moisture in their mouths. The versatility of CBD oil as a product also offers a myriad of methods for usage. There are even dissolvable strips—like breath strips—that make it even easier for patients to ingest CBD more quickly and discreetly.

Doctors recommend starting small and slow when it comes to taking CBD. Start with a small dosage of CBD oil, then slowly work your way up depending on how you feel after using it. The FDA currently does not regulate CBD, so there are no official dosage recommendations. A common and basic dosage of CBD oil to treat back pain can range between 0.2mg/lb per day to 0.5mg/lb per day. Increase the dosage only by a few milligrams over the course of a few days, but be sure not to take any great leaps. The lack of side effects doesn’t mean you should jump as soon as possible to the highest possible dosage; discuss this with your doctor, and ask for advice and guidance from the professionals at your local dispensary.