CBD Oil for Chronic Back Pain: Alleviate the Misery

Person in pain with visible back

If there’s something CBD has been shown to do well, it’s pain suppression. Using CBD oil for back pain management can be done even if the pain is long-lasting and difficult to treat with conventional pharmaceuticals. Read on to learn the details.

Back pain can be caused by a variety of factors. Acute episodes often have a mechanical cause, such as improper posture or sleeping in an uncomfortable position. However, over time, the wear and tear can impact the discs and joints in the spine, causing them to degenerate, while bone spurs can grow into the vertebrae, resulting in the common chronic condition called spondylosis. Spondylosis pain can be treated by analgesics and the condition itself can be slightly attenuated by corticosteroid injections, but not healed.

Some other sources of acute and chronic back pain include:

  • Back strain: Injury to a muscle or tendon. 
  • Back sprain: Tearing or stretching of a ligament.
  • Sciatica: Compression of the sciatic nerve (“pinched nerve”).
  • Herniated disc: A rupture in the intervertebral disc causing the core to bulge and irritate surrounding nerves.
  • Spinal stenosis: The narrowing of the spinal canal causing pressure to the spinal nerves.
  • Lordosis, kyphosis, and scoliosis: Abnormal congenital spine curvatures causing spinal degradation.

The Scope of the Issue

Whatever the cause, back pain is a debilitating issue, globally recognized as a leading cause of disability. It’s highly prevalent – studies estimate that 15 to 20% of adults experience back pain during a single year and 50% to 80% experience at least one episode throughout their lives. Back pain affects all ages, but degenerative spinal damage leading to chronic back pain is more common in the older population.

Aside from causing extreme discomfort, back pain also creates collateral life damage. It’s known to cause anxiety, make social interaction more difficult, and prevent sufferers from going to work. This all can further result in additional psychological problems such as depression and sleep disorders, broken personal relationships, and dramatic declines in productivity.

In turn, the economy also suffers – it’s estimated that some 264 million work days are lost per year in the US alone, with this reduction costing the country in excess of $100 billion.

Conventional Treatments for Back Pain

The way back pain can be treated depends on its cause and severity. Sometimes, a few different treatment options are combined.

If the pain is mechanical in origin or a result of an inflammation, hot and cold packs can be used to provide relief and reduce swelling. In these cases, foregoing all physical activity may make matters worse, so stretching and strengthening exercises are advised. Physical therapy may be appropriate for more serious cases.

Man with back pain

If the pain is chronic and a result of spinal degeneration or nerve compression, exercise and physical therapy are of no help. In those cases, pharmaceuticals are used to alleviate the pain and inflammation. The most common medications include systemic corticosteroids, which may be injected directly into spinal structures or taken orally, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen, aspirin, and paracetamol. In extreme cases, opioids may be prescribed.

Suffice it to say that long-term use of any of these pharmaceuticals comes with potentially serious side effects. Corticosteroids can cause osteoporosis, hypertension, diabetes, weight gain, increased vulnerability to infection, cataracts and glaucoma, and thinning of the skin; NSAIDs can cause ulcers, heartburn, hypertension, and fluid retention resulting in liver and kidney problems; opioids can cause nausea, respiratory problems, constipation, and, of course, addiction.

Can CBD Oil Help with Chronic Back Pain?

CBD oil comes from the Cannabis sativa plant. This is the same plant that is commonly grown for its psychoactive ingredient THC. However, CBD oil is produced from the strains of Cannabis sativa which have had THC bred out of them and contain only trace amounts of it (less than 0.3%). Due to this, using CBD oil for chronic back pain management does not produce a psychoactive effect.

CBD oil health benefits are numerous – and some of the most well-documented ones are its potent analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties.

CBD exerts these effects via the endocannabinoid system, one of the key internal pain regulation systems with modulatory actions at all stages of pain processing. Through its indirect interaction with the endocannabinoid receptors throughout the body, CBD boosts the signaling of anandamide, a neurotransmitter linked to feelings of well-being and happiness. It then prevents its reuptake, pushing the excess quantities into the bloodstream, thereby reducing pain throughout the body. 

Aside from the endocannabinoid system, CBD also interacts with:

Although these studies were conducted on rat models, they can account for what’s behind the scenes when it comes to CBD’s analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects in humans. These effects have also been demonstrated extensively in scientific research.

Finally, CBD can also greatly help with the secondary sufferings caused by chronic back pain. Using CBD oil has proven effective in treating anxiety and depression, as well as for regulating sleep.

How to Use CBD Oil for Chronic Back Pain?

CBD products are available in many forms, including oils for vaporizing, capsules, drops, teas, gummies, topical products, and others.

Vaporizing CBD oil can provide almost immediate pain suppression due to the compound entering the bloodstream rapidly through the lungs. However, this relief is not very long-lasting and it’s more recommended for acute pain episodes than for treating a chronic condition.

Taking CBD orally in the form of capsules, gummies, or chocolates provides a longer effect duration, but the onset is also delayed (about 30min to 2h) as the compound needs to go through the digestive tract and get metabolized in the liver. This method is also not ideal for chronic back pain sufferers.

Nanocraft CBD’s broad spectrum tinctures have extremely favorable reviews as pain relievers. They may help with chronic back pain of non-muscular origin. Click here to shop

A good in-between solution is applying CBD tinctures sublingually. Sublingual administration allows the CBD to be relatively rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream (in about 5 to 20min), and the effects duration is comparable to that of oral intake. This is an adequate way to manage chronic back pain.

However, if the back pain is inflammatory or mechanical in nature, the best way to treat it is by applying CBD creams or balms topically. Rat model studies have shown that “Topical drug [CBD] application avoids gastrointestinal administration, first pass metabolism, providing more constant plasma levels,” thus mitigating the less optimal oral absorption rate.

Additionally, if applied topically, the potential side effects of CBD oil are avoided as the compound doesn’t enter the bloodstream. If ingested orally, sublingually, or vaporized, CBD oil can cause a few relatively mild and infrequent side effects such as dry mouth, diarrhea, reduced appetite, drowsiness, and fatigue.

Our recommended brand of CBD balm for chronic back pain is Sol CBD. Click here to shop

These side effects can be exacerbated in the case of interaction of CBD with certain over-the-counter (OTC) drugs, prescription medications, and dietary supplements. If you are already taking some pain relievers, it’s highly advised to consult your physician before taking CBD oil for back pain.

Finally, if the chronic back pain is a result of a serious lesion coming from vertebral disc degeneration, intradiscal injection of CBD extract has been shown to have remarkably therapeutic effects in rats. Human clinical trials are needed to evaluate the safety and efficacy of this procedure, but it may someday prove to be a valuable treatment option for extreme spinal conditions.

Should You Try Using CBD Oil for Chronic Back Pain?

Although CBD’s analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties have been widely demonstrated on humans, the research into these effects specific to back pain has mostly been conducted on rats. However, while their confirmation in human clinical trials is pending, CBD presents a safe, legal, non-addictive, and potentially more effective option than conventional pharmaceuticals used for pain management.

Have you tried using CBD oil for chronic back pain already? What are your experiences?

If you haven’t, are you considering it? What are your concerns?

Please share them with us in the comments below.


About Xavier Francuski

Born in India, grew up in Serbia, lived and traveled throughout the world, Xavier's uprooted existence fuels his instinct for exploration. With a masters degree in research psychology, he is a passionate educator on the topic of psychedelics, trying to reconcile the astounding nature of the realms beyond with what sense we can make of them in this one. Currently living in Southeast Asia and working as a staff writer for several major psychedelic websites.

Leave a Comment