Chronic back pain is a devastating condition to be diagnosed with. It usually impacts one’s quality of life and
undermines one’s ability to perform daily tasks. Amongst other effects, it tends to disrupt sleep and contributes to anxiety, depression and lowered productivity at work. It is suggested that 80% of the population will experience lower back pain at one point in their lives. Common causes of lower back pain include injury and muscle strain, bulging discs, diseases such as arthritis, smoking and excess weight.
Back pain can either be acute or chronic. Acute back pain is the type that resolves quickly after taking a rest or standard treatment. Chronic back pain, on the other hand, usually lasts for more than 3 months. 20% of those who report back pain suffer from chronic back pain.
Chronic pain is one of the main reasons there has been an increased demand for medical cannabis. The Institute of Medicine of The National Academies suggests that over 100 million Americans live with chronic pain. This translates to almost 1 in every 4 Americans, which shows how common the condition is. There are different types of chronic pain and the most common include pain caused by cancer, neuropathic pain, joint pains, headaches, and most notably, lower back pain.
For most people diagnosed with chronic back pain but have not been able to effectively manage it using medications and standard treatment regimes, CBD for chronic back pain has become the preferred alternative. In addition, there are those that prefer to use of CBD in order to avoid the harmful side effects of medications such as opioids. Surgery is usually used as a last resort, however, the risk of complications and low success rates makes it a less recommended approach.
CBD For Chronic Back Pain
CBD is one of the two most functional chemical compounds found in the cannabis plant. It belongs to the class cannabinoids. THC is the other most functional chemical compound and it also belongs to the same class. However, unlike THC, CBD is non-psychoactive which means that it doesn’t cause a high sensation.
CBD has been found to have anti-inflammatory properties and shows great potential as an alternative method of managing chronic back pain. Researchers are still trying to understand the science of how CBD helps to alleviate pain. As per now, most of the available evidence on the influence of CBD in pain management are based on animal research. More studies need to be conducted on human subjects in order to find more reliable evidence.
However, there is evidence that CBD and THC usually interact with receptors in the body’s endocannabinoid system and both have very different effects. Receptors are tiny proteins that are attached to body cells. The endocannabinoid system has two types of receptors: CB1 and CB2. These tiny proteins receive chemical signals from cannabinoids and help the cells to respond
CB1 receptors are abundantly found in the brain and are mainly involved with cognitive functions such as mood, thinking, memory, appetite amongst others. CB2 receptors are usually found in the immune system. THC usually attach to the CB1 receptors which explains why the effects of THC are usually on a cognitive level. CBD, on the other hand, interacts with the CB2 receptors. However, it doesn’t attach to the receptors rather its interaction with the receptors influences the body to effectively use its own endocannabinoids. CBD activates and inhibits other compounds in the endocannabinoid system.
The involvement of CBD in the immune system explains why it is potentially very beneficial to people diagnosed with inflammatory autoimmune arthritis.
CBD reduces the body’s inflammatory response and symptoms by regulating the immune system’s production of the cell types that are involved in the inflammatory response. By reducing the inflammatory response in the back, people with chronic back pain gain relief from pain and discomfort.
Multiple reports and reviews of studies and research conducted over the years starting from the 1970s have confirmed that CBD for chronic back pain is indeed an effective and safe method of managing the hard-to-treat pain.
However, due to the lack of regulation of many CBD-products, there is inconsistency in the content and purity of CBD based medicines. The inconsistency in the amount of CBD and the psychoactive compound THC might lead to various side-effects dry mouth, diarrhoea, nausea, mood changes amongst others.