Chest pain
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CBD For Chest Pain Relief?

Learn about chest pain and whether CBD can help with symptom relief.

Chest Pain Relief

Chest pain refers to the pain and discomfort in the chest, often caused by heart-related complications, but non-cardiac conditions can also be responsible. Chest pain could be a distinct sign that a heart attack is occurring. A heart attack often induces chest pain, an unknown sensation in the chest, sweating, difficulty breathing, nausea, tingling sensations around the upper body, lightheadedness, and a rapid or irregular heartbeat. Chest pain can be divided into right side chest pain and left side chest pain. Left side chest pain may be an indicator of a heart attack or other conditions affecting the heart. However, right side chest pain may not necessarily be caused by a cardiac condition.

Right Side Chest Pain

The right side of the chest contains the right lung, large blood vessels like the pulmonary blood vessels and ascending aorta, the esophagus, and smaller structures like nerves and rib ligaments. One row of ribs is also found inside the right side of the chest, and it has been demonstrated that spinal complications can be felt in the surrounding area.

It’s also possible that right side chest pain could be caused by something that isn’t located in the chest. For example, several spinal disorders can damage and affect nerve signaling. Experiencing pain in the right side of the chest could be due to nerve pain signals that travel through the chest but originated from another region of the body.

Other possible explanations for right side chest pain include abdominal disorders such as cramping, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), lung irritation, diagram inflammation, or muscle spasms. The liver, gallbladder, and a portion of the pancreas is also found on the right side of the chest and may contribute to related chest pain.

Regardless of where the pain is originating from, always seek immediate medical attention if you’re feeling sharp and sudden pain coming from the right side of the chest. Difficulty breathing, numbness in the hands or upper body, sweating, nausea or vomiting, and a fast heartbeat are all signs that you need to call 911 and be taken to a nearby hospital immediately.

Causes of Right-Sided Chest Pain

In addition to the possible causes discussed previously, the following conditions may be responsible for right-sided chest pain:

  • Anxiety or panic disorder — Anxiety is a natural response to stress. It’s completely normal to worry and experience apprehension before an event such as meeting new people, going to school, or making a major life choice. However, anxiety disorders are characterized by severe and irrational fear or apprehension that may induce abrupt episodes of extreme fear and discomfort, which are known as panic attacks. Panic attacks induce physical symptoms such as sharp chest pain and difficulty breathing while being a psychological condition. 
  • Tumors — Tumors are formed as a cluster of cells due to uncontrolled cell division. Tumors have been shown to grow between the lungs and can cause pain on both the left and the right side of the chest. These tumors may be benign or cancerous as a result of breast or lung cancer. These lymph nodes may be enlarged and comorbid with both non-Hodkin’s lymphomas and Hodgkin’s disease. 
  • Costochondritis — This condition occurs when the cartilage that connects the ribs with sternum becomes inflamed. Costochondritis is commonly caused by long-term and frequent overuse instead of blunt trauma. Pain and discomfort are the most common symptoms and tend to worsen during movement and deep breathing. Tenderness is often reported after pressure is added to the affected rib area. 

Chest Pain Left Side

Chest pain on the left side may be due to a heart attack or other serious condition affecting the heart. Call 911 immediately if you or someone close experiences the following symptoms:

  • Intense pain and tightness in the chest
  • Numbness and pain in the upper body such as the arms, hands, neck, back, or abdomen.
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Sudden dizziness or fatigue
  • Nausea or vomiting

There are various conditions and diseases that may be responsible for causing chest pain on the left side of the chest. The following is a list of some conditions that may be responsible:

  • Angina — refers to chest pain, tightness, and discomfort when the heart isn’t receiving enough oxygen from the blood. Angina isn’t a specific disease or condition; it typically refers to the various symptoms associated with some form of heart complication such as heart disease.
  • Reflux — occurs when stomach acid enters the esophagus due to a weakening in the lower esophageal sphincter. The symptoms of reflux are commonly known as heartburn and include a burning sensation in the chest, nausea, a sore throat, a bad taste in the mouth, and coughing.
  • Pulmonary embolism — occurs when a blood clot develops somewhere in the body and travels to one of the lungs. The symptoms include sudden and severe chest pain or discomfort that gets worse during deep breaths, shortness of breath, coughing blood, racing heartbeat, dizziness, and fainting. 
  • Lung complications — Lung conditions such as asthma or COPD may be responsible for sharp pain in the chest. Diseases like pneumonia and bronchitis are also known to induce a stabbing sensation in the chest. 

Diagnosing Chest Pain

A primary care physician will make a diagnosis regarding your chest pain by taking into account several factors in addition to performing tests to detect any abnormalities. A doctor will perform a physical evaluation first to identify any obstructions or compromise to your airways, breathing, and blood circulation. Your doctor will likely ask you a bunch of questions regarding your symptoms as well as your medical history to establish any genetic risk factors. If your doctor believes additional tests are necessary to make a diagnosis, then you might be subject to one or more of the following tests:

  • A chest x-ray and/or chest CT scan
  • Cardiac stress testing
  • EKG
  • Bronchoscopy
  • MRI
  • PET scan
  • Cardiac catheterization and angiography
  • Upper GI endoscopy or barium swallow (to identify any issues with your esophagus or stomach)

Chest Pain Treatment

Treatment for chest pain depends on the severity and underlying cause. The following is a list of medications commonly prescribed for chest-related pain:

  • Artery dilators. Typically consists of tablets of nitroglycerin that are dissolved under the tongue. Nitroglycerin dilates the arteries of the heart to allow blood to easily travel through. There are additional medications that can help dilate the blood vessels typically blood pressure medications. 
  • Aspirin. If the chest pain is caused by a heart complication aspirin then your doctor will likely give you an aspirin. Aspirin is a blood thinner medication that allows more blood to travel throughout the heart. 
  • Thrombolytic drugs. These medications are given during heart attacks to remove clots. They dissolve clots that are preventing blood from passing through the vessels of the heart.
  • Blood thinners. These drugs are usually given when clots are suspected to be causing the chest pain. They make your red blood cells less wide to help prevent clotting in the arteries. 
  • Acid-reducing medications. Usually, these are given when the chest pain is believed to be due to stomach acid entering the esophagus. Proton pump inhibitors or TUMS reduce stomach acidity to help reduce the damage to the esophagus from reflux.  

CBD for Chest Pain Relief?

Cannabidiol or CBD is one of over 100 identified phytocannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. CBD is clinically approved to treat epilepsy and is undergoing studies to confirm its analgesic (anti-pain) and anti-inflammatory properties. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the psychoactive cannabinoid from cannabis that’s responsible for producing the distinct high from smoking or consuming marijuana. CBD differs from THC in several ways, but the most notable difference is that CBD isn’t intoxicating and does not impair performance when consumed. This makes CBD a suitable option for those seeking an alternative pain relief method but can’t be under the influence of a substance.

Due to a serious opioid crisis, people are looking for safe alternatives to addicting painkillers when treating their pain symptoms. After the passing of the 2018 Farm Bill, hemp and its extracts are no longer illegal to grow and sell. This legalization has created a surge in CBD products hitting the market as CBD products must contain less than 0.3 percent THC to be legal. Hemp is defined as cannabis grown without the psychoactive component, THC. If a cannabis plant or CBD product contains more than 0.3 % THC, then it is now considered marijuana, a Schedule 1 substance defined by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). Always check your state and local laws surrounding CBD as they do vary by state. 

How To Use CBD For Chest Pain Relief

There are no clinically established guidelines for dosing CBD, let alone for specifically chest pain. However, CBD’s possess a well-supported safety profile as any side effects experienced generally tend to be mild. The most common way to consume CBD is by placing drops of CBD oil under the tongue where it’s readily absorbed into the bloodstream. Begin by taking the smallest amount possible then slowly increase your dose until sufficient pain relief is reached. Practically all purchased CBD products will come with dosing instructions, so ensure that you read the label before consuming CBD.

No one can tell you precisely the most optimal CBD dosage as it is highly dependent on the individual and factors such as weight, pain severity, metabolism, genetics, and likely more. Finding the perfect dose will largely be a series of trial and error. Thankfully, you can’t overdose on CBD, so there’s never a concern from taking too much and CBD is well tolerated with little to no toxicity shown in clinical studies.

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