People worldwide have reached for cannabis to treat pain for hundreds of years. These days, the growing legality of marijuana means that users are spoiled for choice regarding products. However, not everyone wants the intoxicating high associated with THC, and the substance remains illegal in numerous locations. Fortunately, CBD oil from hemp is widely available and broadly tolerated in most states.
When it comes to chronic back pain, which affects 8% of all Americans, knowing which CBD product is a good fit is potentially tricky. When faced with such a plethora of choices, the search can certainly be overwhelming!
CBD oil and topicals are viable options for those with chronic back pain. So, which is best? This article looks at CBD oils vs. CBD topicals as the best option for chronic pain. It also outlines how to use both products. Keep scrolling to see the top-rated CBD brands at the end of the article.
Back Pain 101
Unlike many other conditions, back pain has no prejudice and can affect anyone at any age! It can also occur for various reasons, from injury to bad posture or other underlying conditions. There are so many occurrences that could lead to back pain, some of which are listed below:
- Sprained ligaments
- Strained muscles
- Ruptured discs
- Irritated joints
- Blood clots
- Kidney infections
- Kidney stones
While many cases of back pain are short-lived, there are plenty of cases where back pain gets progressively worse, which can be incredibly debilitating.
According to the American Chiropractic Association, lower back pain is the single leading cause of disability worldwide, a massive indicator of its severity.
Cannabis for Back Pain
Millions of people worldwide reach for a joint to ease pain symptoms as the drug is associated with fast-acting relief. However, with such a large number of people living with back pain, there has been a shift towards non-intoxicating variants of the plant, which is where CBD oil and CBD topicals come in.
So, what are the medicinal alternatives to high-THC cannabis? Luckily, there is a significant number to choose from, with CBD oil and CBD topicals among the most popular.
What Is CBD Oil?
Cannabidiol (CBD) is a non-intoxicating compound found in the marijuana plant that has grown in popularity. Arguably more sought after now than THC, studies have shown CBD to have some potential in helping to manage various medical ailments.
Researchers have found that CBD interacts with the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS), which is vital for regulating many of our bodily functions. This ranges from core temperature to how we feel pain, emotion, hunger, and more.
When consumed, CBD interacts with cannabinoid receptors found throughout this system to help combat different issues. In the case of back pain, taking CBD might help our bodies fight off pain symptoms (including inflammation) much more effectively.
Does CBD Help with Back Pain? What Does the Research Say?
There are few clinical trials outlining the efficacy of CBD for back pain. However, a study published in the Journal of Opioid Management in 2020 investigated CBD’s ability to treat chronic back pain. The researchers looked into two patient case reports. The individuals in question used a specific CBD cream that contained 400mg of the cannabinoid per two-ounce container.
The patients experienced significant symptom relief after using the cream. The researchers concluded that additional studies are warranted to determine if CBD products should have a more central role in treating chronic and acute pain.
Although the available research into CBD for back pain is promising, there is very little of it. Significantly more studies are needed before drawing any conclusions. Nonetheless, many people are adamant that cannabidiol helps reduce back pain symptoms. While there is a wide array of CBD products to choose from, they all fall into one of three distinct forms, which will be covered below.
Types of CBD for Back Pain
Generally speaking, one can categorize CBD products as follows:
- Full-Spectrum: Contains dozens of cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids. Crucially, such products may contain up to 0.3% THC when derived from hemp.
- Broad-Spectrum: These items contain everything one will find in a full-spectrum product except THC. Broad-spectrum CBD should contain 0% THC.
- CBD Isolate: Any products containing no other cannabinoids or hemp compounds barring CBD are known as isolates. On occasion, a manufacturer may add terpenes after the initial extraction phase.
Proponents of full-spectrum CBD point towards the so-called entourage effect. This is a suggestion that the cannabis plant’s compounds work better together than in isolation. However, individuals who don’t want any THC in their system tend to gravitate towards broad-spectrum or CBD isolate products.
How to Use CBD Oil for Back Pain
One can use CBD oil in many ways, so this is down to personal preference. Many patients do not like the taste of CBD oil, so they may opt to put a few drops into their food to mask the flavor.
For those seeking a quick hit of relief, applying a couple of drops beneath the tongue is among the fastest ways of benefiting from the cannabinoid. There are beds of tiny blood vessels called capillaries under the tongue. They allow for rapid absorption directly into the bloodstream without having to go through any of the metabolic breakdown processes of the digestive system.
How Much CBD Oil to Use for Back Pain?
Regardless of the CBD product one uses, its effects vary depending on:
- The user’s bodyweight
- Body chemistry
- The user’s general health
- The condition someone uses CBD for
- CBD concentration
As always, the best idea is to start low and go slow – meaning start with a very low dose and increase slowly until the desired effect is reached.
What Are CBD Topicals?
CBD topicals have become more popular over recent years as we have moved further away from the traditional ways of using cannabis to help with our ailments. However, what exactly are cannabis topicals, and how are they used for back pain?
A CBD topical is a cannabis-infused ointment, cream, balm, or lotion used externally on the skin for localized relief.
Many users try topicals to help with skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis. However, this is not their only application.
So, can a topical cause one to get high? The short answer is no. Topicals absorb through the skin, potentially offering the anti-inflammatory benefits of cannabis. However, they do not reach the bloodstream but merely penetrate the CB2 receptors in the affected area. Consequently, they do not cause a high. CBD topicals extracted from hemp contain little or no THC, meaning they wouldn’t lead to intoxication even if they did reach the bloodstream.
However, it is important to note that while topicals typically won’t penetrate the bloodstream, this isn’t the case with transdermal patches. Patches pass cannabinoids through to the bloodstream and can cause a high if they contain THC.
For those living with back pain, topicals can also offer a pleasant sensation due to the essential oils they often contain.
How to Use CBD Topicals for Back Pain
CBD topicals are useful for anyone who dislikes the taste or texture of CBD oil. Whether the product is a cream, ointment, or balm, one should apply it directly to the affected area. There are many topicals with other ingredients to target particular issues, so shop around to find the best product.
How Much CBD Topical to Use for Back Pain?
It is significantly more challenging to track one’s dosage when using a CBD topical than oil. In general, brands provide vague advice on how to use it. They usually suggest that the user apply the topical directly to the affected area without recommending a precise dosage. In reality, it is up to the user to decide whether they want to apply the topical liberally or not.
However, pay attention to the CBD concentration of the topical. For example, a 60-gram container with 1,500mg of CBD has 25mg of the cannabinoid per gram. Individuals in severe pain should shop for topicals with the highest CBD concentration.
What About CBD Cream for Back Pain?
It is easy to get confused by the different CBD topicals available. There are CBD creams, balms, ointments, lotions, and more. However, it is important to note that the main difference lies in the topical’s consistency. Here’s a quick overview:
- CBD Cream: Creams are relatively thick because they contain a high proportion of oil. In general, a cream is about half oil and half water and may also have additional ingredients such as shea butter.
- CBD Lotion: This topical has a high-water content and is thinner than a cream. Typically, lotions are formulated with lightweight products such as hyaluronic acid.
- CBD Balm: A balm is thicker than a cream but not as thick as an ointment. It doesn’t contain water and usually has a waxy texture. A balm may also have added ingredients such as beeswax.
- CBD Ointment: An ointment is thicker and greasier than any other topical on this list.
Overall, lotions are the easiest topical to apply and good options for individuals with acne-prone skin. Creams are suitable for users with sensitive or dry skin, while balms and ointments stay on the skin longer.
CBD Oil vs. CBD Topicals for Back Pain – Which Is Best?
While CBD oil and CBD topicals can help manage back pain and discomfort, is there one that rules over the other regarding efficacy?
When we consider how topicals and CBD oil are absorbed into the body, CBD oil seems to offer better overall benefits. Rather than targeting one specific problem area, CBD oil can provide its purported benefits across the entire body.
However, as we have mentioned – plenty of people prefer to target the affected area as and when necessary. As a result, CBD topicals seem like the obvious option for back pain specifically.
Final Thoughts on CBD Oil vs. CBD Cream for Back Pain
Regarding variety, it is clear that CBD topicals offer the broadest range of choice for long-suffering back pain patients. One can opt for CBD-rich products containing everything needed to help ease the pain with a few added extras.
CBD oil is the most popular hemp product for a reason. It is potentially effective and takes effect very quickly, given it goes directly into the bloodstream after administration. Want to learn more about CBD oil? Check out the top brands below.