CBD for Sciatica Pain: Everything You Need to Know

Sciatica is fairly common, estimated to affect 10% to 40% of people, and can greatly affect the quality of life of those who suffer from it. Unfortunately, due to the many misconceptions about sciatica and the fact that sciatica overlaps on a broad number of diagnoses, it’s hard for people to receive adequate treatment for it and get better. While many clinical studies and medical professionals recommend a broad variety of treatments to relieve the acute or chronic pain associated with sciatica, CBD (in pure form or via cannabis derived products high in CBD) is believed to be an effective solution that is both natural and without the undesired side effects often caused by pharmaceuticals.  

 

Read on to better understand sciatica pain and discover ways in which CBD can help. 

What is sciatica? 

Sciatica is a term used to define nerve pain caused by the irritation or pressure (sometimes caused by injury) of the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve is the body’s largest nerve and extends from the lower back area down to the thigh, ending right above the knee. Sciatica is essentially a set of symptoms that can manifest as shooting pain in the leg, buttock and lower back.  

 

Lumbosciatica, lumbo-neuralgic pain that originates from the inflammation of the sciatic nerve, is related and often referred to as sciatica as well. 

 

Sciatica pain manifests as on a spectrum of intensity (moderate or acute), and it can also be chronic. Usually, if sciatica pain goes away but comes back after 3 months, it can be a sign of chronic sciatica. The pain is felt anywhere along where the sciatic nerve extends, so around the lower back, lumbar vertebrae, buttocks, back of the thigh and leg. Pain can even shoot down and be felt in the foot. Sciatica is reported to affect people between the ages of 25 – 45 years old. 

What causes sciatica? 

There can be many causes or reasons for sciatica to appear. Generally, sciatica occurs as a result of excessive strain or trauma to the spine. Herniated discs are another common cause of sciatica—this is because the herniation compresses the sciatic nerve, which leads to inflammation of the nerve, which in turn leads to pain. Other causes of sciatica pain can be linked to lumbar osteoarthritis, stenosis or spinal issues.  

 

Interestingly, many medical researchers believe that anxiety can also trigger back pain, including sciatica. 

Common treatments for sciatica 

There are three main types of doctor recommended treatments for sciatica pain: drug treatment, non-drug therapies and preventive treatment. 

Drug treatment 

Studies show that prescribed drugs such as analgesics, muscle relaxants and NSAIDs (non steroidal anti inflammatory drugs) can be recommended to treat sciatica related pain. 

 

Precise dosage of such drugs is essential and mandatory, and patients must always consult a medical professional before taking them and for follow-ups during treatment. Such drugs are effective in relieving pain, but they also come with a wealth of side effects and risks that need to be taken into account, whether for short or long-term treatment. 

Non-drug treatment 

Non-drug treatments, or non-drug therapies, are solutions that require constant maintenance and can be slower to take effect (relieve pain), but do not have significant side effects. This could include physiotherapy and special physical exercises recommended by medical professionals. The movements of these therapies allow the pressure on the sciatic nerve to be alleviated over time, gradually calming the sciatica pain. 

 

There are also other ways to complement such therapies, such as sleeping on a firm mattress, or for patients to sleep on their side while placing a pillow between their knees. 

Preventive treatment 

There are many ways to prevent sciatica, or to prevent sciatica pain from reoccurring. Medical professionals recommend preventive measures such as sleeping on the side with a pillow between the knees, or avoiding sleeping face-down (on the stomach). 

 

Other preventive measures include a healthy diet, no smoking, regular exercise and adopting a good posture. Good posture involves adopting an upright posture when sitting, keeping the back pressed against the seat. When sitting, it is best to avoid crossing the legs too, which can cause pressure on the sciatic nerve. 

What is CBD? 

CBD (or cannabidiol) is one of the main cannabinoids (compounds) found in cannabis (hemp), along with THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). CBD and THC are both found in medical cannabis (doctor prescribed), however, the two are vastly different. 

 

According to medical research and studies, CBD is non psychoactive (meaning it is non-intoxicating) and is not an addictive substance. It is believed to have many beneficial and medicinal properties. So much so that it is, in fact, frequently used in the medical field as an alternative to many drugs to help treat a range of diseases. 

 

Cannabis or hemp derived CBD has analgesic and anti inflammatory properties. It positively interacts with the endocannabinoid system (ECS), a system of receptors in the human body that communicates with cells of the immune and central nervous systems. The ECS regulates mood, appetite, inflammation and pain. If the ECS is functioning properly, the body functions properly, and CBD helps regulate the ECS.  

How CBD can help relieve sciatica 

It is thanks to CBD’s analgesic and anti inflammatory properties that CBD is thought to be an effective treatment of sciatica. Research shows that CBD products help reduce chronic back pain, helping patients regain a better quality of life overall.  

 

Because CBD is also a proven aid in reducing anxiety and stress—which is linked to triggering back pain and back problems—it is considered to help prevent stress-induced sciatica issues too. It is important to note that THC has been linked to cause more anxiety, so patients should seek CBD products that are low or have no traces of THC in them. 

CBD, like any other cannabis or hemp products, does not cure sciatica nor does it prevent the progression of sciatica (especially in the case of permanent spinal injury), according to medical studies. For example, if the patient has a herniated disc, which compresses the nerve causing sciatica, CBD will not fix the herniated disc or reduce the pressure this has on the sciatic nerve. CBD can only relieve the symptoms of sciatica, i.e. the pain related to sciatica. 

 

CBD is considered to be an effective pain reliever that could provide fast and long-term relief when taken consistently, with little to no side effects and without the risk of addiction. 

How to use CBD to help relieve sciatica pain 

There exist different forms of CBD (cannabidiol) that patients can use, including CBD oils, CBD resins and CBD flowers 

 

CBD oil is the most common and popular form of CBD used to help treat sciatica pain. Patients can pour some oil on the sore areas of the body and massage into the skin. Effects are usually immediate. A few drops of CBD oil can also be placed sublingually, under the tongue, for a more generalized effect of soreness and pain relief. 

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Patients can also use CBD in resin or flower form. In these cases, a vaporiser is needed to inhale the CBD vapor, for which the effects should be immediate. Alternatively, patients can crush CBD resin or flowers and add them to their foods and drinks—although high temperature heat (like cooking) may be required for the CBD to be properly extracted and metabolized during digestion. 

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Final Notes 

According to medical research and studies, CBD—particularly CBD  oil—can be effective in relieving pain related to sciatica, as well as other types of acute or chronic pain.  

 

Unlike THC (which is categorized as an intoxicating drug), CBD is legal to purchase and consume in most countries in Europe, including France, as well as other countries like the U.S and Canada.  

 

CBD can be procured via prescription or can be found in specialised shops and online without the need of prescription. Before starting to use CBD products and integrate them in your routine, it is strongly advised to consult a medical professional. 

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