Learn about CBD and chronic pain

CBD and Chronic Pain

Chronic PAIN FACTS
  • Chronic pain may develop from a number of conditions and lead to complications such as depression and insomnia.
  • As many as 50 million Americans experience chronic pain.
  • The cannabis plant has been used to treat pain since ancient civilization.
  • CBD can help relieve chronic pain—especially if it is caused by inflammatory or neuropathic routes— and treat its side effects by targeting multiple receptors in the body.

Believe it or not, a little pain is a good thing. It is your body telling you that something is wrong so you know you need to respond. Where the pain occurs typically lets you know where the problem is, and how bad the pain is tells you what to do next. Without those pain signals, a common condition such as appendicitis would be deadly every time. But chronic pain—pain that lasts for 12 weeks or more regardless of injury—is not informative. It is incredibly disruptive and depressing.

Inside Chronic Pain

Chronic pain is a serious medical condition that can affect absolutely anyone. Whether it is the result of an injury that does not heal, the symptom of another chronic condition, or a phantom imprint of pain once experienced, it can have a huge impact on the sufferer’s life. And with the opioid crisis raging in the United States, it is a problem that needs a better solution—now! CBD may be an answer.

CAUSES

Causes of chronic pain include injury, illness, and repeated stress. As cut-and-dried as that sounds, the actual cause of chronic pain can be a tricky thing to uncover. Even when you have a specific cause, such as nerve damage resulting from an injury, the pain can outlast that injury and sometimes develop a psychological element.

SYMPTOMS

Symptoms of chronic pain depend on many factors, including cause, biological makeup, and pain tolerance. Someone with nerve pain due to multiple sclerosis will have completely different symptoms than someone whose pain stems from a knee injury suffered during a car crash. But the bottom line is that chronic pain is defined as any sort of pain that lasts for 12 weeks or longer.

Who Is at Risk?

Anyone can suffer from chronic pain, but you are more likely to develop the condition if you have one of the following risk factors.

  • INJURY. Any sort of injury, whether major or minor, can result in chronic pain. Maybe the injury does not heal well, there is nerve damage, or you end up with phantom pain.
  • ILLNESS. Some conditions, such as arthritis and fibromyalgia, go hand-in-hand with chronic pain.
  • SURGERY. Anytime a doctor cuts into your body you are at risk of developing chronic pain.
  • GENDER. Women are more likely to experience chronic pain than men, especially migraines and face and jaw pain.
  • WEIGHT. Those who are overweight put more stress on their bodies, which can result in persistent pain.
A real problem

Individuals with chronic pain are more likely to feel depressed, lose sleep and productivity, and experience strain on relationships and finances. That is very bad news considering that:

  • Comprehensive treatment with painkillers helps only 58 percent of individuals, and with serious side effects, including addiction.
  • Chronic pain costs the United States as much as $635 billion per year in both healthcare and lost productivity.

Finding a treatment plan that can work long term is essential to being able to function day to day. CBD can succeed where other treatments fail because this cannabinoid can be both effective and well tolerated in treating chronic pain over time.

The CBD Answer

Chronic pain is a condition that differs from person to person, experience to experience. CBD has demonstrated effectiveness in inflammatory and neuropathic pain. Keep in mind, however, that CBD has less of an effect on the central nervous system than cannabis with THC. As a neuroprotective and anti-inflammatory, CBD ameliorates the cause of the pain, not actually the pain itself. That means that results are not necessarily immediate. As a general rule, CBD can take at minimum several weeks to decrease underlying inflammation and several months to reduce neuropathy. In addition to diminishing the underlying cause of pain, CBD can help with accompanying conditions such as insomnia, nausea, and depression. Lower back pain is the most common reason for the use of cannabis with THC or CBD to treat pain.

HOW TO USE IT

How you treat chronic pain with CBD will depend on where and how you feel the pain. Most chronic pain conditions are best treated by layering CBD formats. Using a patch, an oral tincture, and a topical product over the course of the day may be helpful. If you are taking any other medication, be sure to consult your prescribing healthcare practitioner. 

Top Areas affected by chronic pain

Most individuals experience pain in a specific area of the body or related to a specific injury or surgery. The most common complaints are:

  • Lower back pain
  • Joint pain
  • Headache
  • Nerve pain
  • Post-traumatic pain
  • Postsurgical pain
  • Cancer-related pain

WHY IT WORKS

CBD can reduce or sometimes eliminate pain by reducing inflammation, which is the underlying cause of the pain. This cannabinoid has been shown to bind to receptors that mediate pain perception, inflammation, and body temperature.

CBD VERSUS OTHER TREATMENTS

Conventional treatment for chronic pain has relied on non-steroidal anti-inflammatories, or NSAIDS, such as ibuprofen and naproxen, and opioids for severe pain. Certainly, the opioid epidemic has revealed that overprescribing painkillers is harmful. CBD, on the other hand, can offer pain relief without the side effects of NSAIDS or opioids.

Natural Partners for CBD

With opioid misuse at crisis level, it is more important than ever to find safe and effective pain remedies. Here are a few that you can try, integrated with your CBD supplement:

  • MOVE YOUR BODY. Movement activities, such as restorative yoga, walking, tai chi, and stretching, are excellent ways to combat chronic pain.
  • GET A MASSAGE. Do you really need an excuse to have a spa day? Not only do holistic therapies such as massage, acupressure, and acupuncture relieve pain, but they also release endocannabinoids, which are literally bliss molecules. Look for practitioners who have experience working with chronic pain.
  • GET SOME FEEDBACK. Biofeedback is a therapeutic technique that uses electrical sensors to help you learn how to relax your body and control your pain.

From The CBD Oil Miracle by Laura Lagano. Copyright © 2019 by the author and reprinted by permission of St. Martin’s Publishing Group.
Photography by Alyson Brown

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