Lower Back Pain Relief
Back pain is the most common cause of disability worldwide and typically refers to pain, stiffness, and discomfort in the lower back area. In addition to pain, muscle tension tends to radiate from the spine’s lumbar region and reduce overall body mobility.
If lower back pain runs down to your legs and past your knee or event into your feet, you may have sciatica. This condition is often caused by a slipped disk and can be debilitating. While not always accurate, if the pain is worse in your legs than your back, then it’s most likely sciatica. Sciatica also causes numbness and tingling due to strain and pressure on the nerves going through the lower body.
Lower back pain doesn’t necessarily have a serious cause behind it. People are sitting down for more extended periods than ever before, and most people do not take short intermittent breaks to stretch and walk around. Sitting over activates the muscles in the hip flexors and lower back while under activating the abs and butt. Over time, this can lead to muscle imbalance and moderate muscle tension in the lower back, causing pain and reduced mobility.
A physician will employ various diagnostic techniques before determining which treatment to recommend. Treatment options for lower back pain include anti-inflammatory or muscle relaxing medications, local corticosteroid injections, and surgery. However, surgery and corticosteroid injections are rarely used due to the risks involved.
Lower Back Pain Causes
Lower back pain usually doesn’t have an apparent cause. However, things that can contribute to lower back pain include:
- Muscle tension
- Lack of exercise
- Weak abs
- Long periods of sitting in a particular position
- Strain from strenuous exercise
- Psychological stress (anxiety, depression, PTSD, etc.)
- Conditions that affect the central nervous system’s pain sensitivity
- Genetic factors
The most common acute back pain causes include a slipped disk, a bone fracture from blunt injury, spinal stenosis, isthmic spondylolisthesis, and osteoarthritis. However, a reminder that chronic, radiating lower back pain isn’t often a sign of something more serious.
Typically, lower back pain will go away within days or a few weeks, even without medical intervention. However, the pain returns frequently, and it’s estimated that 1/3 of people who experience lower back pain will have another episode within 12 months.
Chronic lower back pain is diagnosed when lower back pain persists for several months but ranges in severity. Symptoms include alternating periods of pain severity, constant pain from the lumbar region even if mild, and reduced mobility due to stiffness.
Lower Back Pain Diagnosis
Imaging techniques won’t be used if the physician determines that there aren’t any severe underlying conditions that explain the back pain. If the doctor suspects a need for further examination, then x-rays, CT, or MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scans might be used to help make a diagnosis. Physicians are often advised to avoid performing imaging scans because these tests don’t provide a substantial explanation for the cause of the back pain. For example, protruding spinal disks are common in people of all ages but don’t necessarily cause any pain. It’s critical to prevent misdiagnosis as incorrect treatments can produce various side effects due to their inherent risks.
Lower Back Pain Treatment
If your lower back pain is a result of an acute injury or strain, then taking a break from strenuous activities such as weight lifting will allow your back to recover. Several exercises can be performed to help reduce lower back pain, such as lying on the ground with the legs elevated on an object to create a 90-degree angle. Lower back pain often responds better with activity than rest. Try to move as much as possible and don’t spend too much time sitting or lying down. Exercises like walking are highly recommended.
Medications for Lower Back Pain Relief
Cognitive behavior therapy should also be considered for those with chronic lower back pain. Developing coping strategies for lower back pain like recognizing and replacing detrimental thoughts with healthier thought patterns can help reduce the pain contributed by psychological stress.
Physical Therapy for Lower Back Pain Relief
Chronic lower back pain is often debilitating and may require time off work due to the severity of pain. In cases where the pain is unbearable for long periods of time, participation in a rehabilitation program may become necessary. The goal is to learn ways to manage your pain on your own, which will allow you to return to your normal daily activities. The rehabilitation approach uses medication, physical therapy, regular exercise, and cognitive behavioral therapy to achieve sufficient pain relief.
Massage for Lower Back Pain Relief
Massaging the lower back may help increase blood flow, reduce muscle tension, and improve mobility. Typically a massage therapist will perform a muscle massage, but chiropractors can as well. Chiropractors lean towards spinal adjustments, and while they may perform a massage on the affected area, they often don’t specialize in massage therapy.
CBD For Lower Back Pain Relief?
Cannabidiol or CBD is just one of the hundreds of identified cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. Tetrahydrocannabinol or THC is notorious for being the compound responsible for producing the high associated with cannabis. However, CBD doesn’t create a notable “high,” so you can consume it without becoming intoxicated. This can be useful because it allows those who suffer from lower back pain to work, drive, and socialize since they are not high or having their performance affected by a substance.
CBD possesses enormous therapeutic potential in treating a variety of conditions and diseases, especially those involving pain and inflammation. Last year, a study published in the Journal of Pain Research concluded that “cannabinoid agonists (THC/CBD) can have remarkable analgesic capabilities, as adjuvant of SCS, for the treatment of chronic refractory pain.” The study investigated cannabinoids potential in treating refractory pain from failed back surgery syndrome.
How Does CBD Work?
How CBD works to produce its effects isn’t completely known at this time. However, researchers have discovered that CBD indirectly interacts with cannabinoid receptors from the endocannabinoid system (ECS). Cannabinoid receptors are found throughout the entire body as part of both the peripheral and central nervous systems. The ECS is a complex biological network that’s responsible for numerous biological functions such as pain sensation, memory, appetite, sleep, mood, immune function, and more.
Again, the ECS is seriously complicated. Briefly, cannabidiol may produce its effects by increasing the concentration of naturally produced neurotransmitters, including serotonin, dopamine, noradrenaline, gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), and anandamide. A unique aspect of CBD is that it prevents the body from breaking down anandamide molecules.
Anandamide is a naturally produced cannabinoid that binds to CB1, a cannabinoid receptor, and nullifies pain signaling; it’s released when the body experiences pain. However, anandamide is quickly metabolized by the body, and its effects only last a few minutes. CBD appears to prevent the body from breaking down anandamide. This creates an abundance of the compound that enters the bloodstream and binds to various cannabinoid receptors, which are found throughout the entire body, providing pain relief.
How To Use CBD for Lower Back Pain Relief
The most common way to use CBD for lower back pain is to place drops of CBD oil under the tongue, where it’s readily absorbed into the bloodstream. Currently, there are no clinically established guidelines for cannabidiol dosing, even more so for particular conditions. Most products will have instructions and recommendations, so always read the label. Begin by using the smallest amount possible and then slowly increase your dose until pain relief is achieved. Thankfully, it is practically impossible to overdose on cannabidiol, and it’s been demonstrated to be very safe by both clinical research and personal anecdotes. With side effects being mild and rarely interacting with prescribed medications.
Another option is to use a CBD topical like creams or salves to apply directly to the area that’s causing pain. Again, make sure to read the product’s instructions on how much and how frequently you should apply. Cannabidiol topicals often come with additional ingredients meant to increase its efficacy in penetrating the skin and providing pain relief.
Final Thoughts on Using CBD for Lower Back Pain Relief
Clinical research investigating cannabidiol’s efficacy as an analgesic and anti-inflammatory is severely limited. However, it’s already established that CBD has enormous potential in treating a variety of conditions. There are studies already ongoing, and there will be many more to determine precisely how cannabidiol works on the body. For now, it remains a relatively safe and natural alternative to traditional pain medications such as opioids. There’s a chance it may not work for you but it could be worth a shot.