Understanding CBD (Cannabidiol) for Back Pain
Cannabidiol, commonly referred to as CBD, is a new and relatively understudied treatment for pain, including back pain. Studies suggest it may help relieve inflammation, which is often a factor in chronic back pain. 1
CBD is available in many forms; topical creams and gels have shown promising results for inflammation and neuropathy, which may make them a good option for back and neck pain. 2
CBD requires more research in order to prove and explain its effectiveness as well as to better understand potential side effects (especially long-term) and potential drug interactions.
What Is CBD?
CBD oil is derived from a plant called cannabis sativa. The plant has over 100 chemical compounds, called cannabinoids, that have a range of effects, including anti-inflammatory and analgesic (pain relieving) qualities.
The cannabis sativa plant has two main varieties that are grown for specific purposes:
- THC content. THC is the compound associated with the “high” feeling of marijuana use.
- Industrial (non-drug) uses. This form of the plant contains trace amounts of THC (less than .03%) and can be used to make paper, clothing, and some building material. This variation of the cannabis plant is called hemp.
While CBD is present in both varieties, many of the CBD products available to consumers are from the hemp plant. CBD does not come with the high or psychogenic effects of marijuana.
Ways CBD Treats Back Pain
Research indicates that CBD may reduce back pain by:
- Reducing inflammation 3
- Combating anxiety, often associated with long-lasting or chronic back pain 4
- Helping with sleep and improving overall state of relaxation 5
Some studies suggest that CBD can have an effect on how an individual perceives pain, but more robust research is needed. CBD is generally considered a full-body treatment, which means that it does not target back pain specifically—except in the case of topical products—but contributes to an overall feeling of relaxation and pain relief.
Advocates of CBD believe it can be used to treat a range of conditions in addition to back pain, such as anxiety-related disorders. 5
Potential Risks and Side Effects of CBD
Cannabidiol, even in high amounts, is generally safe. Side effects from CBD may include:
- Dry mouth
- Low blood pressure
More severe side effects, while rare, include:
- Mental confusion
As with other natural products, there is potential for adverse reactions when taken with other medications, especially those that come with grapefruit warnings, such as certain blood thinners. These warnings indicate that certain medications should not be taken with products containing grapefruit.
CBD use prior to surgery
Before having surgery, all cannabis use, including CBD and marijuana, should be disclosed to the surgeon or anesthesiologist. A recent study suggests that cannabis use may have an effect on medications used to sedate patients. 6
CBD for Chronic Neck Pain (Cervicalgia)
The bones, ligaments, and muscles of your neck support your head and allow for motion. Any abnormalities, inflammation, or injury can cause neck pain or stiffness. Many people experience neck pain or stiffness occasionally. In most cases, it’s due to poor posture or overuse. Pain in the neck can vary in intensity, and may feel achy or like an electric shock from the neck to the arm.
Neck pain may be categorised as acute – the pain comes on suddenly and lasts a few months at most – or chronic, wherein the pain slowly worsens over time; and either persists for more than a few months or comes and goes in “flare-ups”.
Chronic neck pain
Your neck is made up of vertebrae that extend from the skull to the upper torso. Cervical discs absorb shock between the bones.
The bones, ligaments and muscles of your neck support your head and allow for motion. Any abnormalities, inflammation, or injury can cause neck pain or stiffness.
Many people experience neck pain or stiffness occasionally throughout their lives, often due to poor posture or over exertion. At other times neck pain can be caused by injury from a fall, contact sports, or whiplash.
Most of the time neck pain isn’t a serious condition and can be relieved within a few days, but in some cases, neck pain can indicate a serious injury or illness and require long term care.
If you have neck pain that continues for more than 7 days, is severe, or is accompanied by other symptoms, seek medical attention.
Common Causes of Neck Pain Include…
Muscle Tension & Strain This is often due to activities and behaviours such as poor posture; working at a desk for too long without changing position; sleeping with your neck in a bad position; jerking your neck during exercise.
Injury The neck is particularly vulnerable to injury, especially in falls, car accidents, and sports, where the muscles and ligaments of the neck are forced to move outside their normal range. If the neck bones (cervical vertebrae) are fractured, the spinal cord may also be damaged. Neck injury caused by a sudden jerking of the head is commonly called whiplash.
Heart Attack Neck pain can also be a symptom of a heart attack, but it often presents with other symptoms of a heart attack such as shortness of breath; sweating; nausea; vomiting; arm or jaw pain.
Meningitis is an inflammation of the thin tissue that surrounds the brain and spinal cord. In people who have meningitis, a fever and a headache often occur with a stiff neck. Meningitis can be fatal and is a medical emergency.
Fibromyalgia is a name given to a group of symptoms marked by generalised pain and muscle stiffness.
Rheumatoid Arthritis causes pain, swelling of the joints, and bone spurs. When these occur in the neck area, chronic neck pain can result.
Osteoporosis weakens bones and can lead to small fractures.
Spondylosis (or osteoarthritis of the neck) As you age, the cervical discs can degenerate. This can narrow the space between the vertebrae and add stress to your joints.
Osteoarthritis neck pain
One of the most common conditions that patients seek medical marijuana treatment is for chronic pain, which can make even the most basic daily functions difficult for those suffering.
Whether its chronic pain related to inflammation, headaches, neuropathic pain, muscle soreness, spinal injury, or fibromyalgia, cannabis has been found to have a high rate of success.
Can cannabis help chronic neck pain?
Although cannabis has recently exploded onto the mainstream medicine scene, evidence suggests that people have used cannabis for medical purposes for more than 5,000 years. Common uses for medical marijuana include treatment for chronic neck pain. More recently, people have sought out cannabis and CBD products as alternatives to opioids, which have been linked to addiction and death.
Overall, the evidence is mounting that shows CBD and THC may play a greater role in managing chronic neck and spine pain, whilst curbing opioid-related risks. Evidence has also found that CBD is a safe, effective addiction therapy, leading CBD to rise in popularity for its potential to treat opioid abuse and prevent it, as a viable chronic pain-relieving alternative.
CBD will not cause any intoxicating effects. The “high” resulting from marijuana use is caused by THC, which is just one of the many cannabinoids in cannabis. CBD is also a cannabinoid in cannabis, but it doesn’t cause any “high”. Some CBD products may contain a trace amount of THC, but the levels are too low to cause any psychoactive effects.
For people looking for a more natural alternative to extended use of over-the-counter painkillers and opioids, cannabis can provide immeasurable relief.
One of the major ways cannabis can help alleviate neck pain is by relaxing the painful spasms that often shoot through a “kinked-up” neck. The plant’s intensely relaxing effect has had a proven effect on the seized muscles. Cannabis can also reduce inflammation in the tissues, reducing pressure and pain.
Many individuals find they can completely cease the use of pharmaceuticals once they begin cannabis treatment. Even supplementing your prescribed medication with cannabis products can make a positive difference. You will be able to ease back on the former, which, in the case of opioid drugs, have many dangerous side effects including the potential for addiction and overdose. In addition to easing the pain itself, cannabis can help you manage the side effects of severe long-term pain, like dizziness and nausea.
CBD works naturally with your body to reduce neck pain. It interacts with your endocannabinoid system to handle two common causes of pain:
Overactive Pain Signals: Certain conditions cause pain receptors to create feelings of pain for no reason. While pain helps us detect when we get injured, pain that has no cause only creates discomfort. CBD activates the CB1 and CB2 receptors, which not only respond to cannabinoids but also regulate pain signals. Many chronic pain patients show irregular CB1 and CB2 signaling, that balance out when exposed to CBD.
Inflammation: Swelling and inflammation have helpful traits, but they turn into a big problem when they happen often. Our body creates inflammation as an immune response. It usually protects damaged tissue from infection. However, the immune system can also make too much inflammation, causing pain and damaging healthy tissue. CBD reduces the immune response and soothes inflamed tissue.
How do people use CBD?
For people who have struggled with chronic neck pain, the list of treatments tried is likely long! Some traditional therapies for pain, (namely opioid medication), pose significant risks. Seeking safer alternatives, people are increasingly using CBD to manage chronic neck pain.
Products containing CBD are exploding. Some people prefer to smoke cannabis, but manufacturers are getting creative when it comes to producing products containing cannabis and its related compounds. Food, beverages, dietary supplements, oils, topicals, and bath soaks are just a few of the applications consumers can use.
When it comes to neck pain issues, cannabis topicals are the star of the show. Though most often recommended for chronic pain, topicals can help with alleviating stiffness and pain, and promoting relaxation. Essential oils often added to the balm or salve can provide further relief. If you’re seeking cannabis purely for its therapeutic benefits and would prefer not to feel the well-known psychoactive side effect, topicals are precisely the treatment you need. Whether the topical is made with CBD or THC, when absorbed through the skin, no mental effects are felt.
Key Definitions regarding marijuana…
The terms surrounding medical marijuana can be confusing, below are some basic definitions:
Cannabis sativa: The plant that produces both CBD and THC
Cannabinoid: One of the more than 100 compounds that exist in cannabis
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC): A cannabinoid known for producing an intoxicating “high”.
Cannabidiol (CBD): A cannabinoid known for its non-intoxicating, non-psychoactive medicinal effects.
How can I find a high-quality CBD or THC product?
It can be challenging to know whether a product is safe or contains the ingredients promised on the label. Products containing synthetic cannabinoids (e.g. “spice”) are especially concerning, as they have been linked to serious complications.
To narrow your options, iCannabis recommend you ask the following questions:
1. Does it meet quality standards outlined by a credible certification body under Australian law?
2. Does the manufacturer report adverse events tied to its products?
3. Is the product certified organic?
4. Does the product undergo laboratory testing to confirm THC levels?
At iCannabis, we are a group that specialises in educating and helping Australian patients gain access to Cannabis for medical purposes, through education and real-life experiences with the healing powers of this plant.
Once you discover the documented benefits tens of thousands of patients around the world have received, you too will realise how this can potentially change and improve the quality of life for you and your family.
The positive impact this plant has already had on the quality of life for patients and their families is nothing short of miraculous.
At iCannabis, we are committed to establishing an Australian medical cannabis community, comprised of passionate and caring people, focused on the highest quality organic medicine, made with love and integrity.
If you need any advice or help with CBD for Chronic Neck Pain care, please contact us and we can help connect you with an Authorised Medical Cannabis doctor in Australia.