Elbow pain is a common arm injury that typically occurs from overuse. Activities that involve arm movements, particularly those that require high-intensity and repetitive motions, are usually responsible for causing pain in the elbows. Elbow pain is rarely caused by arthritis. This is because the elbow is fairly resilient to joint degradation compared to other joints like those in the knees and hands. Regardless of the cause of your elbow pain, we’ll talk about the best ways to achieve elbow pain relief. Also, continue reading to learn whether CBD can help treat symptoms of elbow pain.
Elbow Pain Causes
The elbow is connected to several ligaments, bones, muscles, and tendons. The most common cause of elbow pain is inflammation of at least one of the elbow’s tendons. This is also known as tendonitis, which means inflammation of the tendon. Inflammation of the elbow is largely due to repetitive, strenuous motions as required in tennis or baseball. Essentially, overactivity is the biggest contributor to elbow pain.
Elbow pain can also be caused by osteoarthritis, a form of arthritis that affects the joints and can lead to permanent damage by degrading the cartilage of the affected joint. Osteoarthritis more commonly affects the knees, hands, hips, and spine. However, even though it’s rare, arthritis can still cause joint pain in the elbow, especially if there was pre-existing joint damage.
The elbow bone can break or fracture, causing severe and sharp pain. X-rays are required to diagnose an elbow fracture accurately. Also, when the bone breaks, it can push into the elbow joint causing pain.
Elbow pain may be due to a sprain or injury to a ligament. Sprains are characterized by tearing or overstretching in a ligament. There are several ligaments found around the elbow, and each of them could be injured in an accident.
Elbow Pain Treatment Options
Treatment for elbow pain will depend on the underlying cause. Most cases of elbow pain will resolve on their own and don’t require surgery or extreme medical intervention. Most treatments are done at home because elbow pain rarely causes hospitalizations.
Mild to moderate cases of elbow pain is usually treated with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). NSAIDs lower inflammation and reduce pain signaling in the body. Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), acetaminophen (Tylenol), and naproxen (Aleve) are the most commonly recommended NSAIDs. These medications can be bought over the counter are not considered habit-forming.
Elbow injuries are best treated by immobilizing the elbow using a cast or brace. Since the most common cause of elbow pain is inflammation and overactivity, it’s important to allow time for the elbow to rest and recover. Minimizing the movement of the arm will be critical for recovery. While casts are often uncomfortable, they allow you full mobility of the rest of your body while restricting your arm. This way, you don’t have to resort to bed rest to allow your elbow to recover.
Using a heating pad or other device to apply heat to the elbow can help alleviate symptoms of elbow pain. Always make sure there is a barrier between the skin and heating device such as a thin towel, this helps to avoid serious burns. Applying heat to the elbow can help increase blood flow to the area, which can promote healing and reduce pain.
Can CBD Oil and CBD Creams Provide Elbow Pain Relief?
The current literature suggests that CBD appears to be a safe and effective option for those seeking pain relief. Unfortunately, there are no studies that have investigated the effectiveness of CBD-based medicines on specifically elbow pain. However, there have been numerous studies that have found at least some evidence supporting the role of CBD in treating pain disorders and particularly conditions involving neuropathy.
For example, one study found that CBD may be an effective option for preventing peripheral neuropathy after chemotherapy treatment. Interestingly, these researchers used low and ineffective doses of CBD and THC but still found positive results in preventing the development of neuropathy after chemotherapy. It appears that THC and CBD share powerful synergy, as combining one with the other resulted in noticeable potentiation. So theoretically, you could get more out of your CBD by combining it with THC.
CBD doesn’t intoxicate you, unlike THC. This is important because those seeking elbow pain relief may not be able to purchase and use cannabis produces containing THC, whether recreationally or medicinally, due to prohibition. Some people also don’t want to be under the influence of a disinhibiting substance, especially during work, driving, or while around their families. No matter the reason, CBD can provide elbow pain relief without impairing you as THC, opioids, or muscle relaxants would.
How Do CBD Oils and Creams Help Relieve Elbow Pain?
The Endocannabinoid System (ECS) Explained
CBD works on the endocannabinoid system (ECS), which is a large and complex bio-feedback network responsible for regulating various biological functions. The ECS is involved in mood, sleep, memory, pain sensation, immune function, appetite, cognition, and more. The ECS employs cannabinoid receptors named CB1 and CB2.
Think of CB1 and CB2 receptors like a lock and endocannabinoids as the key. Endocannabinoids are cannabinoids that are naturally produced inside the body. These compounds bind to CB1 and CB2 receptors like a key inserted into a lock to allow chemical signaling to occur between cells. Typically, endocannabinoids act as messengers, containing information that’s only activated when bound to a receptor.
CB1 and CB2 receptors are found throughout the entire body, including the brain. This may explain why CBD is able to provide pain relief to several areas of the body. More on this below.
How CBD Actually Works in Your Body
Cannabidiol is a phytocannabinoid, meaning it’s plant-derived. CBD doesn’t actually bind to cannabinoid receptors. Instead, CBD is best classified as an antagonist modulator. CBD acts as an antagonist by binding to cannabinoid receptors without activating it. Essentially, CBD prevents other cannabinoids from binding to these receptors.
Why does CBD do this? Well, we don’t really know. However, the best explanation is that CBD can help attenuate CB1 and CB2 receptor activation, which may help with reducing some effects that can be detrimental, such as anxiety.
CBD has also been documented to prevent the reuptake of several neurotransmitters, including serotonin, dopamine, gamma-Aminobutyric acid (GABA), norepinephrine, and anandamide.
Reuptake is the fancy word for when the body breaks down and recycles neurotransmitters. So if CBD prevents the body from breaking down these compounds, the body has an excess supply that travels through the bloodstream to bind to their respective receptors.
Anandamide is released when the body experiences pain. It binds to the CB1 receptor and produces a weak and short-lived anti-depressant effect by partially blocking pain signaling from traveling to the brain. The catch is, the body quickly metabolizes anandamide, preventing it from providing pain relief for longer than about 3 minutes. However, since CBD prevents the body from breaking down anandamide, it can last for longer and be present in higher concentrations, which can result in greater elbow pain relief.
To summarize: CBD works by modulating cannabinoid receptors and increasing naturally produced neurotransmitters to contribute to pain relief, elevated mood, and calmness.
How To Take CBD For Elbow Pain Relief
There are several different ways to ingest CBD for elbow pain, including orally, sublingually, inhaling, or applying locally to the skin. We’ll discuss each ingestion method to give an overview of what to expect, then you can decide for yourself.
Taking CBD Orally For Elbow pain
To take CBD orally, you’ll need a CBD-infused product that’s edible. These products can vary widely, but the most common products are CBD gummies, pastries, or other edibles and CBD oil.
CBD edibles are convenient because they’re typically treats or deserts that taste sweet and mask the taste of CBD, which some may find unpleasant.
CBD oil can be orally ingested simply by using the accompanying dropper. The downside of taking CBD by mouth is that it’ll take longer for the effects to kick in. CBD’s effects are already extremely subtle, and with the slow digestive process, it may take more than two hours for CBD to become completely active.
Sublingual Dosing CBD For Elbow Pain
A way to bypass the long digestive process of CBD is to dose CBD sublingually. Sublingual means “under-the-tongue.” To do this, simply place drops of CBD oil beneath the tongue and allow it to sit for at least two minutes.
The tissues under the tongue are very permeable, which means substances can easily dissolve through the tissue and into the bloodstream. Dosing CBD sublingually will allow CBD to become active within 20 minutes, much quicker than dosing orally.
Vaping CBD For Elbow Pain
CBD can be inhaled using cannabis flower containing CBD or an oil distillate. Vape devices utilize cartridges containing CBD distillate to allow for portable and convenient vaping. There are also devices designed to vaporize cannabis flower.
CBD Topicals (Balms, Creams, etc.) For Elbow Pain
Another class of CBD products is CBD topicals. These products usually come as a cream, balm, or salve. They’re meant to be directly applied to the skin around the area that’s causing pain.
Simply rub a CBD topical on the elbow to relieve pain symptoms. However, make sure you read the ingredients as these products frequently contain various additives, which can range from coconut oil and lavender to fragrances and dyes.
To learn more about CBD and how it can help treat pain symptoms, click here.