Back pain is the most common type of pain reported worldwide, making it one of the leading causes of disability. It’s estimated that up to 70% of the population has experienced an episode of back pain at least once. This pain refers to the discomfort, stiffness, soreness, or pain felt in the upper, middle, or lower back. Lower back pain is the most common type of back pain.
Back pain usually isn’t an immediate indication of a more serious underlying condition. Most people can recover from back pain without an extreme medical intervention like shots of corticosteroids or surgery. With active rest, over-the-counter pain medications, and specific exercises, back pain will usually heal on its own within a few weeks.
Back Pain Symptoms
Back pain symptoms vary depending on the diagnosis but usually involve:
- Muscle aches
- Sharp and sudden pain
- Pain that shoots down your leg
- Pain that’s aggravated by bending, lifting, standing, or walking
- Stiffness that prevents certain movements
What Are Common Causes of Back Pain?
The most common causes of back pain include muscle strain, nerve irritation, diseases that cause inflammation, lumbar radiculopathy, spinal canal narrowing, and pinched nerves. There are many causes of back pain, both serious and non-serious. Speak with your doctor to ensure you get a proper diagnosis and adequate treatment. The following goes in-depth on two of the most common causes of back pain:
Lumbar strain: A muscle strain occurs when there’s an injury to the muscle fibers, ligaments, tendons, or other soft tissue structures in the lower back. When the tiny tissues that make up the lower back muscle tear bad enough to where the body cannot repair itself fast enough, the muscle becomes inflamed, causing severe pain and muscle spasms. This injury can be from overuse, poor posture, or trauma and usually occurs in older individuals, but can happen to anyone. Those involved in heavy weight lifting must ensure proper form is executed to avoid overstressing the lower back muscles and other soft tissue structures.
Arthritis: A group of diseases that cause inflammation of the joints, tendons, ligaments, and bones. The most common type of arthritis that affects the back is ankylosing spondylitis. Spondylitis is a type of arthritis that primarily affects the spine and pelvis. The critical distinction between spondylitis and other types of arthritis is systemic inflammation, where inflammation is present in various bones or joints instead of localized such as osteoarthritis in the knees. Spondylitis is considered chronic back pain that usually begins in middle-aged individuals and progressively gets worse with age. Rest tends to aggravate the pain as it causes stiffness of the muscle fibers. Those with spondylitis should be engaging in active rest to provide the best pain relief.
Back Pain Relief Treatments
Treatment for non-severe cases of back pain includes active rest, OTC pain medications to reduce inflammation, muscle relaxants, muscle massage, applications of heat, and lower back strengthening exercises once the back heals. Ibuprofen (Advil), acetaminophen (Tylenol), and naproxen (Aleve) are used to reduce inflammation and pain symptoms. It’s not uncommon for muscle relaxants like cyclobenzaprine (Flexeril) or carisoprodol (Soma) to be prescribed in cases where muscle spasms are causing severe pain.
Resting the lower back may seem like a good idea but can make the pain worse whenever you get up and move around. The muscle fibers stiffen when inactive and cause pain when you move as they stretch the now tight tissues. Active rest is highly recommended and has been shown to help the back heal faster compared to no activity. Try gentle exercises like walking and stretching instead of sprints or running.
Another popular back pain relief method that can be done at home is using a heating pad or other device to warm the back muscles. This stimulates blood flow to the region, which can give some back pain relief. Allow heat treatment to persist for about 20 minutes before taking a break.
Avoid icing the area as the muscle fibers will stiffen, leading to pain. The heat will loosen the fibers and allow movement, which can help provide back pain relief.
Can Hemp CBD Oil Help for Back Pain?
Cannabidiol or CBD is a compound naturally found in cannabis that may be effective at treating pain symptoms without producing a high or euphoria. CBD is usually extracted from hemp and then processed into oil, where it’s often sold as is or infused into various products ranging from topical salves to some foods and drinks.
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the psychoactive compound found in cannabis that’s responsible for producing the famous high or euphoria after consuming cannabis. THC and CBD differ in many ways. The primary distinction is that CBD doesn’t create high or any intoxicating effects when consumed.
The FDA only recognizes CBD as a treatment for seizures produced by two rare forms of epilepsy under the drug named Epidiolex. However, clinical studies are concluding that CBD possesses enormous potential in treating the symptoms caused by pain and inflammatory diseases like arthritis, cancer, multiple sclerosis, and fibromyalgia.
We need more studies to determine CBD’s efficacy in treating pain and inflammation thoroughly, but the current literature is promising. However, CBD appears to provide back pain relief by increasing the amount of “feel good” chemicals in the body.
Why are Hemp and CBD Products Getting So Popular?
CBD is gaining massive traction for a variety of reasons. To start, people are seeking alternatives to traditionally addicting painkillers for treating their acute and chronic pain. Even over-the-counter pain medications aren’t effective for everyone and can produce some severe side effects when misused or used for long periods. These adverse side effects can include stomach bleeding, ulcers, liver damage, heart attack, and stroke (except for aspirin).
Studies Discovering CBD’s Healing Properties
Recent studies are finding that CBD appears to be a well-tolerated and effective treatment option for numerous different diseases and conditions, particularly those causing oxidative stress, inflammation, cancer, pain, and psychiatric disorders.
CBD seems to have its hand in a large bag of conditions that aren’t necessarily related, how is this possible? Well, current research suggests that CBD indirectly interacts with the cannabinoid receptors that belong to the endocannabinoid system (ECS).
These receptors are found throughout the entire body due to the central and peripheral systems. Because of this, CBD’s effects can reach practically every area of the body by traveling through the bloodstream. There is still more research required on CBD, cannabinoids, and their impact on the body. However, the research is undoubtedly exciting, and people are highly anticipating that studies will confirm it’s application as a medicine to treat their back pain symptoms.
The 2018 Farm Bill
The recent 2018 Farm Bill federally legalized the sale and growing of hemp and hemp-extracts like CBD oil. Hemp is just Cannabis sativa grown without the psychoactive compound, THC. The end of hemp prohibition has directly led to a boom in the production of CBD oil and other CBD-infused products. The legislature strictly defines CBD and hemp as legal as long as the plant or product doesn’t contain more than 0.3 percent THC. If it does, it becomes illegal and reclassified as marijuana. Marijuana remains a Schedule 1 drug to the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). Always check state and local laws on buying CBD as the laws vary by state.
How To Take CBD for Back Pain Relief
CBD for back pain relief can be taken orally, applied directly to the skin, or inhaled. There are various types of products with varying benefits and drawbacks. As of now, there are no clinically defined dosing protocols for taking CBD, let alone specifically for back pain relief. However, it’s recommended by the Arthritis Foundation that you begin by choosing the smallest amount of CBD product possible and then wait an hour to allow the effects to occur. Afterward, slowly increase your dose over the course of the week until you find the treatment that helps your pain symptoms the most.
Note: CBD is not intended to treat, cure, or prevent any disease or condition. CBD should not replace disease-modifying drugs used for arthritis. Quality-sourced CBD is expensive. Make sure it helps your pain symptoms before spending your hard-earned money on something that may not work for you.
Taking CBD Orally
CBD is usually swallowed via CBD oil, capsuled containing CBD, or by eating or drinking CBD-infused food or beverages. The cons of this route of administration (RoA) is that the effects from CBD will take longer to kick in as the stomach and intestines digest the compound. There are also factors like stomach acidity, meal timing, and combined medications that have not been studied to determine their effect on the body’s digestion of CBD.
Medical professionals don’t advise taking CBD-infused edibles like candies or pastries since the dosing may not always be accurate unless you take the entire treat. There are also concerns about their appeal to children. Make sure always to store edibles in a place away from children to prevent accidental consumption. CBD oil and capsules are typically accurately dosed, making them convenient for both consuming and dosing.
The Sublingual Method
Another popular way to consume CBD by mouth is by placing drops of CBD oil beneath the tongue for 60 to 120 seconds, where it’s quickly absorbed into the bloodstream. This ROA allows the effects of CBD to be noticed more quickly than by waiting for stomach digestion at the cost of potential discomfort from the taste of the oil.
CBD-infused topical products usually include creams, balms, and salves. They are applied directly to the skin around the area where there is pain or inflammation. However, there are minimal studies on CBD topicals, so we don’t know if they deliver CBD into the body by penetrating the skin. These products often contain additional ingredients designed to work with CBD to increase its effects; they include additives like menthol, capsaicin, or essential oils. Always read the ingredients label to make sure the product does not contain any parts that you’re allergic to.
Lower Back Pain Relief
If you’re experiencing lower back pain, visit our lower back pain article to learn ways to get effective lower back pain relief. We go in-depth on specifically lower back pain and how CBD can help with pain relief.