Does Cannabis Help with Pain in the Lower Back Muscles?

Ways in which cannabis can treat lower back muscle pain

Image Credit: By Ilona sudzerovskaya on shutterstock.

There has been a noticeable increase in the prevalence of back pain in the United States over two decades. In 1990, it was ranked at the 6th most common health issue. However, by 2010 it had jumped to the third most common. At any given period, there are more than 31 million Americans affected by lower back pain.

Lumbago is the medical name for the pain in the joints and muscles of the lower back. This is very common among adults in particular. In fact, it’s estimated that 80% of adults suffer from back pain. This condition is characterized by pain anywhere along the spine from the neck down to the hips.

It can vary from mild to very severe pain and, in the worst cases, can be utterly debilitating. The pain can last for days, weeks or even months but will usually improve over time, depending on the type.

There are many different types of lower back pain. The three most common are:

  • Axial Pain
  • This is the most common form of lower back pain. It presents in the lower back, buttocks, and the top of the legs. The ache comes from the muscles, ligaments, and the bones of our spine.

  • Radicular Pain
  • The ache starts in an inflamed spinal nerve. It is a kind of pain that usually only affects one side of the body. Patients describe it as a sharp, burning pain, which results in numbness as it spreads to the legs and buttocks.

  • Neuropathic Pain
  • This kind of pain can occur because of damage to the nerve tissues caused by other infections and injuries to the body. This type of pain can trigger other symptoms in other parts of the body.

Acute back pain lasts between 4 and 12 weeks. It is characterized by an intense strain on the lower back muscles that can range from a dull, persistent ache to an immediate, sharp sensation. Most of these pains are only temporary and can last from several days to a few weeks.

Chronic lower back pain lasts for 12 weeks or longer. 20% of people who have acute back pain develop a chronic back pain condition. Despite the treatment of the acute pain, it can persist and sometimes last for up to a year.

The Causes of Lower Back Pain

Considering how many people suffer from back pain, it isn’t surprising that there are a great many causes of the condition. Some of the most common causes include:
Sprains and Strains – Lower back pain can occur as a result of an accident which causes muscle strain or damages the soft tissues. This is very common for people whose jobs involve having to lift heavy things on a regular basis, or for people who workout incorrectly. A pulled back muscle can be very painful, but is usually temporary.
Degenerative Disc Disease – This is a condition which occurs naturally with age. The spinal disks which protect the vertebrae are worn down over time. At a certain point, the herniated disc begins to cause intense pain for most people, although not all.
Pregnancy – It’s very common for women to experience pain in the lower back during and after pregnancy. This is the result of the increased weight and pressure put on the spine. It will usually resolve itself once the baby is born.
Bad Posture – Lower back pain is often the result of many years of poor posture. Proper posture ensures that the spine is aligned correctly and that weight is evenly distributed throughout the spine.

Medical Cannabis for Back Pain

Cannabis, also known as marijuana, is a plant that we’ve all heard of many times. While most people hear the word “cannabis” and immediately think of drug abuse, the truth is that there is growing evidence to suggest that this plant could be used as a medicine. In fact, medical cannabis is being studied as a possible treatment for scores of illnesses, diseases and conditions.

The plant consists of more than 80 ch chemical compounds including tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). THC is what made the plant controversial as it is the compound which causes the “high”. CBD, on the other hand, does not cause the same result. Regardless of the controversy, both compounds have anti-inflammatory, pain relieving and mood stabilizing properties.

One study reported at least a 45% reduced in back pain approximately 20 minutes after inhaling medical cannabis. Another study showed that the short-term use of medical cannabis could help a wide range of both mental and physical function of our body. It’s no wonder, then, that so many states across America have begun legalizing cannabis for medical use.

Most lower back pain occurs as a result of internal inflammation caused by the degeneration of spinal discs. As cannabis has been proven to be an effective and powerful anti-inflammatory, it is reasonable to expect it to be very useful in the reduction of lower back pain. Cannabis is also thought to reduce the amount of pain we feel through its interaction with key receptors in the brain.

There are a number of more conventional treatments for lower back pain today. These include simple home remedies such as the use of hot or cold compresses, bed rest, massage and taking over the counter painkillers. However, many patients often need to have physical therapy and even surgery to correct serious spinal issues. It is hoped that in the future, medical cannabis can be intended as a substitute for pain medication and even surgery.

The lumbar spine is one of the most important parts of the body. It keeps the body upright, allows us to move freely and comfortably, and is essential to pretty much everything that we do. Any damage done to the spinal cord can be irreversible and cause partial or full paralysis, so we must take very careful care of it.

There are many options for lower back pain relief, however, most involve strong chemicals which can cause side effects of their own. For this reason, many people are turning to medical cannabis as a safer alternative.
If you are considering using medical cannabis to treat your lower back pain, please remember that this is an experimental treatment.

While there is an overwhelming amount of anecdotal evidence to support it, the scientific data remain sparse. With that being said, it seems that medical cannabis is now one of the most popular treatments for lower back pain, and an option worth exploring.

Editorial Staff
Editorial Staff
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