What are the Effects of Medicinal Cannabis for the Treatment of Back Pain?
According to a study, low back pain affects about five in 10 Canadians. Of the working population in Canada, 85% of them had suffered or are suffering from low back pain. Worldwide, the World Health Organization estimates that 60% to 70% of the general population has low back pain. This is a staggering percentage of the general population, costing billions of dollars each year.
Pain medications work to control low back pain. But unfortunately, there are some types of back pain that can’t be controlled by over-the-counter analgesics. Prescription painkillers help, of course. But then again, these opioid-based drugs increase the risk of dependence, addiction, and overdose.
Nowadays, a growing number of people buy medical marijuana online for their back pain. They find that the marijuana different strain are just as powerful as opioid-based drugs when it comes to pain control. They have found relief on medicinal cannabis for pain.
What are the causes and types of back pain?
There are two major causes of back pain. You have mechanical back pain as well as compressive back pain. Mechanical back pain is typically caused by spine movements.
Compressive back pain, on the other hand, is caused by pressure on the spine, resulting in nerve compression and spinal cord irritation and inflammation.
Back pain is also categorized according to the type of pain. This includes:
- Simple or Acute Pain
Simple or acute back pain is short term pain in the back. The pain typically lasts anywhere between a few days and a few weeks.
Back pain that lasts between four weeks and twelve weeks is called subacute pain.
Most simple back pain resolves on their own. But over-the-counter painkillers and medicinal cannabis treatment can help to significantly reduce pain, back muscle spasms, and inflammation.
Left untreated though, simple back pain can disrupt the way the back normally functions. It can result in decreased range of motion of the spine. It can also affect ambulation and activities of daily living.
- Chronic Pain
Chronic pain, on the other hand, is pain in the lower back that has persisted for more than twelve weeks after the initial back injury.
Statistics revealed that 20% of those who are suffering from acute back pain can progress to chronic back pain.
While over-the-counter analgesics can help control chronic back pain, some patients need stronger painkillers like opioid-based drugs.
But because this drug is pretty addictive and can cause an overdose, a good number of patients are switching to medicinal cannabis back pain therapy such as oils, tinctures, and capsules.
Simple/acute back pain and chronic back pain are oftentimes localized. This means that the pain is only located in the affected or injured area.
- Shooting Pain
Shooting back pain is pain that radiates down to the lower extremities when you move your spine in a certain way. This type of back pain means that there is nerve impingement somewhere in the vertebral column. Spine movements compress the nerve, irritating it and causing it to send pain signals down the lower extremities.
A good example of this type of back pain is called sciatica, a back condition that affects the sciatic nerve. Injuries such as bulged or herniated discs compress the sciatic nerve, and the pressure on the sciatic nerve causes a sharp, stabbing, shooting pain that starts from the low back and radiates to the leg.
Painkillers help, but sometimes they’re not enough which is why many patients want to explore the different medicinal cannabis treatment options.
How does medicinal cannabis relieve back pain?
As mentioned earlier, many people find that for their chronic pain medicinal cannabis helps. It can help relieve even their treatment resistant back pain. Through cannabis medicinal effects, they are able to control their pain and take control of their life once more.
But what are the effects of medicinal cannabis on pain? How does cannabis relieve back pain and discomfort? More importantly, is there a way to benefit from medicinal cannabis without developing any of its psychoactive side effects?
- Cannabis interacts with the endocannabinoid system
Our cells have an endocannabinoid system, a biological system that helps regulate pain, inflammation, and other physiological functions.
This system is activated by endogenous cannabinoids or endocannabinoids. These are cannabis-like substances produced when we perceive pain and inflammation.
Now, similar to the endocannabinoids, cannabinoids found in cannabis and hemp also have the ability to interact with our cells’ endocannabinoid system. They can also activate this system and enhance the way it functions.
his is one reason why we experience significant pain reduction when we consume cannabis. The cannabinoids activate the endocannabinoid system and prompt it to control pain perception and reduce inflammation.
- Cannabinoids interact with other receptors responsible for pain and inflammation
In addition to interacting with the endocannabinoid system, the cannabinoids can also interact with other receptors responsible for pain and inflammation as well.
Some of these receptors include the adenosine receptors as well as the vanilloid receptor. The interaction of the cannabinoids with these other systems makes cannabis a powerful and effective painkiller.
But unlike opioid-based painkillers though, cannabinoids are safer since they typically don’t cause an overdose. Consuming cannabis for pain control will not significantly affect your breathing and heart rhythm like strong prescription painkillers do.
These effects on the different receptors make cannabinoids a vital key to the effectiveness of cannabis as a treatment option for back pain.
- CBD relieves pain and discomfort
While many people find relief from back pain when they consume cannabis, some people though are hesitant to try it because of cannabis’ psychoactive effects.
Fortunately, they can still enjoy the analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects of cannabis when they consume a CBD-rich herbal cannabis oil.
CBD, unlike THC, is non psychoactive. It won’t produce any anxiety or trigger paranoia. It also won’t get you high. Instead, it will control pain, inflammation, and discomfort like THC, but without its psychoactive effects.
So if you’re looking for the best medicinal cannabis for back pain without the side effects of THC, then choose CBD oil.
How do you use medicinal cannabis back pain products?
There are several ways that you can use cannabis for back pain. You can ingest it or place it under the tongue, or you can apply a cannabis topical on your low back. You can even smoke and vape it.
But before you use cannabis for back pain, be sure to talk with your doctor first. He can recommend the best dosage for your type of back pain. If he’s not familiar with medical cannabis therapy, then he can recommend you to a medical cannabis doctor for pain management.
Below are some of the tips given by medical cannabis doctors when it comes to using cannabis for back pain.
- Sublingual application and cannabis edibles
For sublingual application, you only have to place a few drops of your cannabis oil or tincture under your tongue for about two minutes. Your cells will easily absorb the cannabinoids.
Cannabis edibles, on the other hand, come in many forms like candies, gels, brownies, etc.
Compared to sublinguals, it can take some time before you feel its analgesic effects since the food has to go through your stomach and liver where it will be processed.
However, edibles have a longer duration of effects though compared to sublinguals.
Of note, doctors advise that you start with the lowest dose possible and adjust accordingly if you didn’t notice any improvement in your back pain.
- Topical application
You can also buy cannabis based salves and creams from your local dispensary and apply it on you back.
You can even purchase medical marijuana online since they also sell cannabis derived creams, lotions, salves, and balms.
To use topicals, doctors advise that you should first clean the area with soap and water. This is to make sure that your skin cells can easily absorb the cannabinoids.
After drying your back thoroughly, simply apply the cream onto your back and massage into the skin.
Topicals work best for localized back pain since you will be applying it directly on the affected area.
- Smoking and vaping cannabis
The method of application that delivers the fastest onset of effects is smoking or vaping cannabis. This method bypasses the stomach, so the cannabinoids go directly into your bloodstream.
There are many different strains of cannabis, so it will be a good idea to research the strains first before you buy some buds or vape juice.
If you want something that contains more CBD than THC, then choose Harlequin or AC/DC. These strains have powerful painkilling and anti-inflammatory effects that can help control your back pain and relax your back muscles. These strains can also help with the shooting type of back pain.
- Exercise, diet, and enough sleep
While all these methods can help reduce your back pain, doctors still recommend that you follow a healthy diet and engage in a regular exercise program.
Foods that can help keep your back healthy include fruits, vegetables, dairy products, and fatty fish.
As for exercise, doctors recommend at least 30 minutes of moderate activity each day for five days a week.
You can also take supplements rich in calcium as well as vitamin C. Calcium is integral for bone health, while vitamin C helps your body heal faster.
In addition to this, you also need ample sleep. Doctors say that adults need at least seven to nine hours of sleep.
Cannabis does help control back pain, and numerous studies on chronic pain management and medicinal cannabis use have shown its benefits. It can help control acute, chronic, and shooting back pain by reducing pain, controlling inflammation, and relaxing back muscles.
If you want to try it for your back pain, too, you can find medicinal cannabis oil for pain and for sale online as well as from your local dispensary.