Sciatica is a painful condition that affects the nerve running from the lower back down through the legs. It has been connected to most of the clinically diagnosed cases of lower back and leg pain, and its lifetime incidence is believed to range from 13-40%. Can CBD be used as a natural alternative treatment to manage sciatica pain?
While sciatica isn’t always debilitating, it will affect a significant percentage of the population, and some sort of treatment method is usually necessary to manage the pain.
Numerous studies have suggested that CBD has a slew of therapeutic properties, many of which could be particularly useful in managing the pain that occurs with sciatica. Research into CBD’s role in alleviating neuropathic pain is still in its infancy, but this early evidence is encouraging enough to suggest that it may provide significant relief from sciatica with minimal side effects. In this article, we’re going to discuss all you need to know about CBD as it relates to treating sciatica.
What is Sciatica?
Sciatica is a condition characterized by a sharp pain in the leg(s) and lower back that radiates down through the knee and sometimes into the feet. Sciatica typically only affects a single leg, and the pain is often accompanied by weakness, numbness, and tingling.
Most commonly, sciatica pain is caused by compression of the sciatic nerve due to a bulging or herniated disk, but it can also arise due to inflammation, physical trauma, or the growth of a tumor. Due to the discomfort and potential disability caused by sciatica, it often impairs one’s ability to go about their daily life.
Thankfully, most cases of sciatica are mild and will typically resolve over time without significant medical intervention. Recovery times range from as little as two weeks to as long as a year, with the average recovery period being about 12 weeks.
Traditional Treatments for Sciatica
Standard treatments for sciatica revolve around managing pain until the symptoms subside. If symptoms persist for longer than 12 weeks, surgery may be recommended, but surgery rarely yields results better than more conservative methods of care, and will often lead to problems such as motor weakness.
Treatment options for sciatica pain typically include analgesics or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, chiropractic spinal manipulation, traction therapy and physical therapy, epidural steroid injections and acupuncture.
Many people only experience temporary bouts of mild sciatica pain or “flare-ups” and can get by with certain sciatica stretches or sciatica exercises at home for relief.
When all else fails, surgery for severe cases of sciatica is sometimes necessary after non-surgical treatments have been exhausted. Surgery usually involves removal of disc herniation or part of the disc, and sometimes a laminectomy, which removes a small portion of the vertebral bone (lamina) in order to relieve spinal nerve compression.
Despite the focus on pain management in treating sciatica, researchers have concluded that most traditional pain medications are largely ineffective, and often cause adverse side effects. Therefore, finding a safe, effective alternative is a top priority for medical professionals looking to help patients better manage sciatic pain.
What is CBD?
CBD (cannabidiol) is one of the primary chemical constituents of the cannabis plant. Although CBD was discovered decades ago, it has only been in recent years that a growing body of evidence has emerged about its many potential therapeutic benefits. This is mainly due to the legality of hemp stemming from the 2018 US Farm Bill.
Countless studies have suggested that CBD oil could play a role in the treatment of a broad range of psychological and physiological conditions, including anxiety, insomnia, chronic pain, and inflammation.
In particular, CBD has been identified as the most viable cannabinoid for use in medical treatment, despite the fact that THC also has many documented health benefits. This is because CBD is non-psychoactive, meaning that it will not cause the intoxication or impairment that THC does.
Using CBD for Sciatica Treatment
While there is currently no known course of treatment that cures sciatica outright, there is ample evidence to suggest that CBD can help reduce pain until the symptoms of the condition subside.
Similarly to how CBD is used to treat the chronic pain associated with conditions such as arthritis, migraines, and fibromyalgia, it has also been shown to be effective at relieving neuropathic pain, which involves pain stemming from nerve damage.
In fact, one study identified transdermal CBD as an effective agent for treating peripheral neuropathy, a condition closely related to sciatica which involves pain in the extremities.
Although hemp CBD oil is well-known for its analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects, its capacity to manage neuropathic pain is largely due to its antioxidant and anti-hyperalgesic (pain desensitizing) properties. A review examining multiple studies on CBD found that its use desensitized TRPV1 receptors, which have been connected to neuropathic pain caused by inflammation and nerve injury.
There are other natural compounds like capsaicin (the chemical found in chili peppers) that have a similar effect, but CBD was not shown to reduce pain in the manner that capsaicin often does. In addition, a study found that rats given daily doses of CBD had markedly reduced levels of enzymes in the blood that typically rise during inflammatory or neuropathic pain. The researchers inferred that part of this decrease was due to CBD’s antioxidant properties.
As of today, there is still limited research to support CBD’s viability as a sole clinical treatment for sciatica, but most of the evidence so far has been promising. Future studies are likely to uncover more about how CBD can be used to manage not only sciatica, but neuropathic pain in general.
How to Take CBD for Sciatica
According to the results of multiple studies, topical CBD and oral CBD are particularly effective at managing neuropathic pain. However, most studies using topical CBD involved pain confined to the extremities, sciatica often involves pain throughout the length of the leg, so it may require a considerable amount of a topical product to manage pain efficiently.
If pain is localized to a specific area, then transdermal CBD might be the desired route; otherwise, it is just as effective and much more efficient to consume CBD oil sublingually or inhale vaporized CBD. Ultimately, the method of administration comes down to personal preference and the amount of product available for use over an extended period.
CBD most likely not alleviate your pain by itself, but can be a powerful addition to your arsenal of sciatica treatments such as stretching and exercises.
Important Advice About Taking CBD Products
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), CBD itself is safe and well-tolerated by humans even at large doses, but there are still some necessary precautions that must be taken before using any of the products available on the market.
First of all, CBD oil may have a number of mild side effects at higher doses, ranging from nausea, loss of appetite, drowsiness, and diarrhea. These side effects vary depending on the size of the dose and the route of administration. It’s also important to note that CBD could potentially interact with certain medications, so make sure to consult with your doctor before taking CBD to confirm that it’s safe for you to use.
Furthermore, it’s essential that you confirm the quality of a CBD product you are purchasing. Since CBD products are not regulated by the FDA, many of them will contain inaccurate concentrations of CBD and THC, and others will be plain unsafe to use due to containing harmful additives.
To avoid any of the consequences that come with using a low quality or unsafe CBD product, always confirm that the hemp used to make the product comes from a reputable source, ensure that the labeling is consistent and accurate, and check that the contents are tested and verified by an independent third party. Doing so will not only keep you safe, but it will also help you make the most out of your CBD product.
Why Tessera Naturals
Tessera Naturals is committed to providing the highest quality CBD oil in the industry with no gimmicks. All products are made with THC free broad spectrum CBD oil, from organically grown USA hemp and are 3rd party tested to ensure potency and safety.