Persistent lower back, hip, and leg pain? Ouch! If you’ve ever suffered from a bout of sciatica, you know how uncomfortable and inconvenient this condition can be. For many patients, a combination of painkillers and at-home remedies may provide relief from sciatica pain, but some cases are more severe—and you might have reservations about taking painkillers, steroids, or other prescription medications regularly. In recent years, those who suffer from sciatica have raised a new question: Is CBD oil good for sciatica pain? In the sections below, we’ll take a closer look at sciatica, understand its common treatments, and discover why CBD may be an effective new remedy for sciatica patients.
What is Sciatica?
Starting with the basics, let’s review a simple definition of sciatica. Sciatica is pain that radiates along the path of the sciatic nerve, which begins in your lower back and branches out along your hips, buttocks, and legs. Sciatica has a few root causes; it may be triggered by a herniated disk, a bone spur on the spine, or a narrowing of the spine that compresses the sciatic nerve.
When the nerve is compressed by one of the causes above, it generates pain, inflammation, and possible numbness. Generally affecting one side of the body, the pain radiates from the lower back downward through the back of the leg, and can extend all the way to the calf. Sciatica pain may manifest as a mild ache, or it can be sharp and burning. The pain is often exacerbated by prolonged sitting, coughing, or sneezing. Along with pain, many patients experience feelings of numbness, tingling, or muscle weakness; sometimes, a combination of these symptoms can occur. In very severe cases, sciatica can also cause issues with bowel and bladder control.
Though anyone can suffer from sciatica, several risk factors increase your chances of experiencing this painful condition. These factors include advanced age, obesity, diabetes, and professions that require intense lifting and twisting or prolonged periods of sitting.
How is Sciatica Usually Treated?
For most people, sciatica resolves in a few weeks with medications and other non-operative treatments. However, pain management is key for living with sciatica during those weeks. Here are a few common treatment options, which may be used in combination for greater relief:
Heat and Ice
Hot or cold compresses can be used to provide immediate relief from acute sciatica pain, especially in the early phases.
For mild cases, over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs may be enough to alleviate sciatica symptoms. In more severe cases, prescription narcotics, muscle relaxants, and even anti-seizure medications may be prescribed. While these medications are often highly effective, patients may be concerned about the health risks of long-term painkiller use. In addition, many patients are reluctant to use prescription painkillers due to their habit-forming nature.
In some cases, corticosteroid injections can work to reduce inflammation around the affected nerve. The pain-relieving benefits can last for a few months, but steroid injections should be used sparingly to avoid serious side effects.
Stretching and physical therapy, done at home or with a medical professional, can aid in rehabilitation near the end of a sciatica episode. These treatments also help to strengthen the back muscles and prevent further instances of sciatica.
In very severe cases, particularly those associated with leg weakness or bowel and bladder concerns, surgery may be required to remove a bone spur or herniated disk affecting the sciatic nerve.
Why Do People Use CBD Oil for Sciatica?
With a combination of the treatments above, many people are able to manage their sciatica pain. However, common treatment options like painkillers and steroid injections can have worrisome side effects. In response to these concerns, CBD may provide an innovative alternative for managing the pain and inflammation associated with sciatica.
CBD and Pain
The most important part of sciatica treatment is pain relief, and CBD has been the subject of intensive studies for its ability to alleviate pain. Scientists have discovered that the cannabinoids in CBD trigger receptors found within the endocannabinoid system that help to regulate pain, providing an alternative to traditional painkillers. In recent studies, CBD has shown promising early results as a treatment for inflammatory or neuropathic pain, as well as a wide variety of chronic pain conditions. In addition, a 2009 study revealed that CBD could actually work synergistically to make opioids more effective, reducing the required dosage—and risk of side effects or abuse—for sciatica patients who do required prescription pain relief.
CBD and Inflammation
Alleviating inflammation is key to reducing pain, numbness, and other symptoms of sciatica, and inflammation treatment has been another area of interest in relation to CBD. A 2010 study revealed the anti-inflammatory potential of cannabinoid compounds, while researchers in 2009 noted, “preclinical data on all classes of cannabinoids” points toward “important roles for…endocannabinoids in the physiology of inflammation.” Further research in 2016 discovered that cannabinoids act on inflammation in a different way than common NSAIDs, and without the harmful side effects of many anti-inflammatory drugs. This body of research, which continues to expand, points to the value of CBD as an alternative for those who don’t find relief from anti-inflammatory drugs, or who have concerns about the side effects of inflammation fighters like NSAIDs or steroids.
How to Use CBD Oil for Sciatica Pain
If you’re interested in trying CBD to alleviate sciatic pain and inflammation, you have lots of options. Some people prefer to use a topical CBD cream, which allows them to directly target areas of discomfort in the lower back and legs. Many CBD creams are blended with other soothing natural ingredients, like aloe vera and tea tree oil, to provide additional relief.
If a CBD topical doesn’t meet your needs, you can also choose to vape CBD, take it as an oil or tincture placed under the tongue, or ingest it in the form of gummies or capsules. If you prefer one of these methods, you might wonder about the right serving size of CBD for sciatica. Appropriate CBD servings vary from person to person; in most cases, it’s best to start with a low serving size and increase it slowly until you experience relief from sciatic pain. For intense pain, 10-20mg per day can be good starting point for most adults; you may also try a ratio of 1 to 6mg per 10 pounds of body weight, or follow the suggested serving sizes included on the packaging of most commercially available products.
These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Products discussed are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
Due to FDA Regulations, we recommend that you do your own research on CBD products. We also suggest that you read the reviews on our website, where our customers record their real-world results of using our products.