CBD Oil For Sciatica Pain - A Deep Dive
In the U.S, it is estimated that 40% of people suffer from sciatica pain at some point in their lifetime, so you’re not alone if you’re looking for something to take the edge off the pain – but does CBD for sciatica actually work?
Sciatic nerve pain is commonly described as a shooting, searing pain that originates in the buttock and radiates through the hips and down to the back of the legs.
Some people have also described this pain as electric-like. However, sciatic pain may also be experienced as a constant and dull pain that can be so debilitating that it interferes with many aspects of peoples’ lives.
In most cases, self-care measures will ease sciatica symptoms and improve mobility.
This article discusses if CBD can be used as a self-care treatment for sciatica pain, as well as recommending the best type of CBD for sciatica pain without side effects.
What Is Sciatica?
The sciatic nerve is the longest and largest (nearly finger width) nerve in the human body.
Sciatic nerve roots run from your lower back region (lumbar spine), through your buttocks, hips, and down to the back of each leg, ending in your foot and toes.
Sciatic nerve is the primary nerve in your leg, allowing you to stand, walk, and even run.
Sciatica is a painful sensation or discomfort that occurs when your sciatic nerve is injured, irritated, or pinched.
Some people experience muscle weakness and numbness in their leg or foot or a tingling pins and needles sensation in the toes, foot, or leg. Others describe the pain as electric, stabbing, or sharp.
True ‘sciatica’ is a real injury to the sciatic nerve and is usually a serious but rare complication.
However, the term sciatica is often used to describe any shooting pain that originates in the lower back and runs down to one or both legs.
The Cause Of Sciatica
Sciatica is rarely caused by serious medical conditions like tumors or blood clots. The most frequent cause of this painful condition is a herniated disc which mainly occurs in older people.
A herniated disk puts pressure on your sciatic nerve, causing sciatica, i.e., pain, burning, tingling, or numbness in the affected areas.
Another common cause of sciatica is spinal stenosis— the narrowing of the spinal canal which puts pressure on the spinal cord nerves.
Another condition that triggers sciatica (lower back pain) is spondylolisthesis which occurs when the vertebrae slip out of place, causing friction or pressure between the bones and the sciatic nerve.
How Long Can Sciatica Last?
Sciatica is a common problem. In fact, almost everyone will suffer the symptoms of sciatica such as hip pain, back pain, and leg pain at some point in their adult life.
People with sciatica experience different symptoms on one side of the body, depending on its cause.
Sciatica pain may come and go, or it can last for long periods in severe cases. Treatment options for sciatica are diverse, varying from self-care treatment at home to prescription drugs or surgical interventions.
However, pain medications are potentially harmful. Hence, many people seek more natural alternative medicine such as CBD for sciatica.
6 Sciatica Risk Factors
Risk factors associated with incidences of sciatica include:
Excess weight increases pressure on your spine. This can compress the sciatic nerve, which triggers sciatica.
Our body’s discs can become damaged or stressed over time.
For instance, bone spurs, a common cause of sciatica, are likely to develop as your spine ages.
3. Sedentary or Inactive Lifestyle
People whose lifestyle involves a lot of sitting or lying down with minimal to no exercise are at a higher risk of developing sciatic nerve pain.
4. Specific Jobs
A job that involves frequently lifting heavy loads, twisting your back, or driving for prolonged hours can put a lot of pressure on your spine and irritate your sciatic nerve.
Avoid this issue by taking breaks frequently and maintaining a straight back while carrying objects.
This health condition affects the way your body utilizes blood sugar, which increases the risk of nerve damage known as diabetic neuropathy.
Smokers are at a higher risk of sciatica. That’s because nicotine causes tightening of blood vessels which restrict blood circulation.
Impaired blood flow leads to a slower healing process and prolonged inflammation, for instance, in the case of a nerve injury.
CBD and Sciatica Pain
Medical marijuana has a long history of use by ancient physicians to treat pain, muscle spasms, and other conditions.
Recent studies have discovered that specific chemical compounds in hemp plants, including CBD, contribute to its pain-relieving effects.
CBD And The ECS System
Human bodies contain a biological and specialized system known as the endocannabinoid system (ECS).
The ECS controls and regulates our most critical bodily functions like pain sensation, mood, sleep, appetite, memory, and immune system responses.
This system comprises endocannabinoids, which bind to the cannabinoid receptors (CB1 and CB2 receptors), signaling that the ECS needs to take action.
CBD And Cannabinoid Receptors
CBD’s ability to affect our mind and body is solely due to the way it interacts with the cannabinoid receptors.
Some studies have shown that CBD on its own may help reduce certain types of pain like back pain and nerve pain by influencing cannabinoid receptor activity and reducing inflammation.
The same review also showed that Sativex may help alleviate stress and anxiety, which significantly contribute to chronic pain.
Although there is a lot of scientific evidence that CBD may relieve pain, further studies are still needed to determine its efficacy in pain management.
Can CBD Help Relieve Sciatica Symptoms?
As discussed earlier, sciatica can be caused by many factors, all of which lead to pain and inflammation. Sciatica causes neuropathic and nociceptive pain.
Neuropathic pain is triggered by tissue compression, inflammation, and irritation. On the other hand, nociceptive pain occurs when the body responds to painful stimuli, such as an inflammatory response.
Scientific studies have found that CBD can alleviate inflammation and these two types of pain. CBD achieves this effect by binding to the CB1 and CB2 receptors, signaling your body’s organs and systems to restore themselves to balance.
By restoring homeostasis, CBD helps reduce the ‘overreaction’ in the body that causes it to trigger pain, inflammation, and other health conditions.
Sciatica - The Science
It has also been suggested that CBD’s anti-inflammatory properties can indirectly improve inflammatory response.
Therefore, although there are no studies directly investigating the effectiveness of CBD for sciatica, there is ample scientific and anecdotal evidence suggesting that the potent effects of CBD are worth a try.
CBD Can Manage Sciatica Pain
It’s important to note that CBD does not cure sciatica.
However, it helps effectively manage sciatica symptoms like intense pain and inflammation. CBD does not address the underlying triggers of sciatica like spinal stenosis and spondylolisthesis.
The widely accepted treatment for sciatica by healthcare professionals is over-the-counter painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs like naproxen and ibuprofen.
Medical experts also recommend physical therapy and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). However, NSAIDs only offer inflammation and nociceptive pain relief.
Comparably, CBD also offers antioxidant and antidepressant effects besides its anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties.
The Best Type of CBD for Sciatic Nerve Pain?
Everyone’s ECS is unique— with a slightly different number of cannabinoid receptors and varying levels of endogenous cannabinoids (endocannabinoids).
This means that no one person will experience the exact same effects after using medical cannabis as someone else.
There are three different types of CBD available on the market today, including:
It contains all the naturally occurring compounds in cannabis plants, including other cannabinoids, and less than 0.03 percent THC.
Some research and anecdotal evidence suggest that full- spectrum CBD oil provides the most potent health benefits due to the ‘entourage effect.’
This is a mechanism by which multiple cannabis compounds work in synergy to enhance the plant’s beneficial effects.
This type of CBD contains all the naturally occurring compounds in the cannabis sativa plant except THC.
Broad-spectrum CBD also produces the entourage effect, but not to the same extent as full-spectrum CBD because it lacks THC.
CBD Products for Sciatica Pain
CBD products are available in many different forms, including but not limited t;
- Vaping liquids
- Mist sprays
- Topicals such as gels, creams, lotions, and balms
Each CBD form has its unique pros and cons.
Oral CBD Use
For instance, CBD capsules, pills, and gummies are the easiest to dose as they come with a premeasured amount of CBD.
These products are ideal for those who find the earthy taste of CBD oil harsh or somewhat bitter. You take these products at any hour of the day or night as you would any non-CBD pill.
These have varying strengths and features, such as heat relief or cooling relief. They are intended to be gently massaged on the skin as you would a regular moisturizer.
CBD topical creams are a popular choice for sciatica management.
CBD flower can be one of the most potent ways to take CBD for sciatica. That’s because the effects are felt almost immediately as the CBD is absorbed directly from the lungs into the bloodstream.
In addition, smoking CBD bypasses metabolism in the liver, which reduces CBD’s effectiveness. It’s important to note that CBD flower is non-intoxicating and can’t get you high.
CBD Oil And Tinctures
Use of CBD oil and CBD tinctures sublingually is arguably the most effective way to relieve sciatica pain.
Sublingual consumption involves putting a few CBD oil drops under your tongue and holding them there for a few seconds before swallowing.
The CBD is absorbed directly into the bloodstream via the sublingual membrane.
With such high bioavailability, consumers can experience effective relief for their symptoms.
How to Use CBD for Sciatica Pain?
The best way to use CBD for sciatica pain depends on your specific symptoms:
- CBD topical products are intended to be applied directly to the areas you’re treating, making them ideal for sciatic flare-ups and sore spots.
- CBD gummies, capsules, and pills are the easiest to dose, store, and use while on the go. They come in a premeasured dosage, making them ideal for those who wish to manage how much CBD they consume.
- The best CBD oils and tinctures provide highly potent and near instant relief than other CBD products.
Possible Side Effects of CBD for Sciatica
CBD is well tolerated and is generally considered safe for therapeutic use by humans.
However, CBD carries some risks when more than the recommended dosage is consumed.
Studies examining the possible side effects of CBD have found that it can cause unwanted effects like diarrhea, changes in weight, fatigue, reduced appetite, and drowsiness.
There is also evidence that CBD can interact with some prescription medications and lead to an increased risk of side effects.
Hence patients should consult their healthcare providers before using CBD for sciatica. According to one animal study,
CBD leads to liver toxicity when used in large quantities. Note that the rats in this study were given extremely high CBD doses and experts say that more research is still needed.
CBD For Sciatica - The Bottom Line
Currently, there are no studies directly examining the effectiveness of CBD use for sciatica treatment.
However, there is a lot of scientific evidence and anecdotal claims that CBD may be a good option to relieve sciatica symptoms effectively.
The FDA has not approved any CBD products, except Epidiolex, which is used to treat seizures. Therefore, anyone wishing to try CBD for sciatica should strictly purchase from a transparent brand like Charlotte’s Web, CBDistillery, and Joy Organics, whose products are third-party lab tested.
This ensures high-quality CBD with zero risks of contaminants like pesticides and heavy metals.