Can CBD Help with Sciatica Pain?
Updated June 2021
Almost every day, someone contacts us or comes into our store to ask if they can use CBD to help with their sciatica pain. Sciatic nerve pain can cause almost constant tingling or searing pain anywhere from the lower back through the lower legs. It can be so pervasive throughout the day that it can impact people's lives significantly. While all of the scientific studies are not yet fully conclusive, we can share our experiences with customers and some of the facts around how CBD can be a beneficial part of your treatment.
At the end of this article, you can select from premium CBD products to help you treat your sciatica. You may be on pain medications already, but the natural health effects of CBD are worth a try, without the side effects!
We are dedicated to helping our Sciatica sufferers, please feel free to use COUPON CODE: SC20 for 20% off all products.
What is Sciatica?
Sciatica is a painful condition related to your sciatic nerve. Your sciatic nerve branches from your lower back, through your hips and buttocks and down each leg. Sciatica pain occurs when this nerve is under pressure or agitated. The pain can vary quite a bit from person-to-person. Some people experience a dull pain, others almost a burning sensation and others severe pain. It most commonly radiates from your lower back, through your hips and down into your legs. You may have numbness or weakness, and often it may only occur on one side (one leg and hip). It can be very frustrating because even everyday actions, just sneezing for instance, can cause it to flare with pain.
What are the Primary Causes of Sciatica Pain?
Sciatica is caused by a variety of sources that either put pressure on the nerve or create irritation by rubbing on it. The most common causes are a herniated disc, spinal stenosis, pelvic injury, or damage to the nerve from something like diabetes. Incredibly, it's most common for a physician not to find any specific cause and it resolves itself in time. Many people, though, have it recurring over and over.
A bulging, or “herniated”, disc is the most common cause of sciatica. The discs in the back sit between the bones of the spine. It's common for people ages 30 to 50 to have issues where the outer portion of the disc tears, based on just regular use or an injury. The inner disc material can extrude and pinch or irritate the nearby nerves, including the sciatic nerve.
Spinal stenosis is also a very common cause, particularly in older people. The term refers to the narrowing of the spinal canal which compresses the nerves. This pressure on the sciatic nerve creates sciatica and can become quite chronic.
Other causes are more rare, but include spondylolisthesis, a condition that causes the bones in your spine to slip out of place and press on the nerve. As stated earlier, it is very common to not have identified any specific cause for sciatica. It can last 4-8 weeks and go away, only to reappear in an annoying and painful way. Whatever the cause, there is pressure or friction irritating the sciatic nerve. It's always important to contact a physician if you have severe back pain or sciatica.
Sciatica Risk Factors
There are several risk factors for sciatica including:
Age. Damage and stress on discs occurs over time. Bone spurs also can develop, irritating the sciatic nerve.
Obesity. Excess weight will put pressure on your spinal column and contribute to the spinal changes that trigger sciatica.
Occupation. A job that requires you to twist your back, carry heavy loads or otherwise perform tasks that can create injury or extra stress on your spine.
Lack of Movement. People who sit for long periods are more prone to sciatica. The spine is under pressure for a greater period of time without relief of movement.
Diabetes. Diabetes can cause nerve damage and create sciatica.
If you look at the major risk factors, you can see how it would be common for someone to have multiple risk factors. Someone who is older, suffers from obesity, doesn't exercise much, and suffers from diabetes, may all go together. For all individuals, the following tips can help to alleviate sciatic nerve pain, in addition to CBD use which we will cover in the next section.
Lifestyle Tips and Treatments to Help with Sciatica
Movement and Exercise
This may seem like the last thing you want to do when you're feeling sciatic nerve pain, but it is absolutely part of the treatment. Remember, lack of movement and the related stress of sedentary posture are risk factors. Getting up, moving around, and doing moderate (not overly stressful on your back) exercise will alleviate some of the stress, loosen things up, and provide some relief. Back stretching is an important part of that daily routine. Don't push your body too hard, but use your muscles and stretch your back. Allow your spine to get back into its natural shape. One recommended form of exercise is yoga. Practicing yoga can help to stretch and soothe your muscles.
Don't rule out a deep massage. This can accomplish many benefits including releasing endorphins and easing the tension of the muscles. Additionally, it will also help to promote better circulation and reduce inflammation.
Pain and inflammation are key elements of the sciatic nerve pain. CBD is incredibly useful for these symptoms but you may also want to try some over-the-counter medications as well. Any of the ibuprofen or naproxen products to reduce inflammation and pain may prove helpful.
Most people suffering from sciatica recover on their own after several weeks. You should consult a physician and they may recommend cortisone injections or other treatments. Typically these may bring some short-term relief, but don't address the fundamental causes.
Can CBD Help with Sciatica?
Sciatic nerve pain may be caused by the variety of potential culprits we discussed, but what is created is consistent - inflammation and pain. CBD has been shown to combat both issues significantly. Taking CBD triggers your natural endocannabinoid system (ECS) through two types of receptors, CB1 and CB2. It signals your body's organs and various systems to restore themselves into balance. In this way, it reduces the "over-reaction" of your body which is causing it to trigger pain and inflammation.
When it comes to using CBD for sciatica, there are essentially two methods to use and they can be done together. The first, using a topical on the skin directly for short-term, focused relief. The second, using any other method to ingest CBD on a daily or twice-daily basis to ensure it stays in your bloodstream to do its work almost all the time. CBD should be used in conjunction with the other lifestyle recommendations and any other treatments recommended by your physician. Three methods we will describe for internal consumption are smoking flower, using a CBD oil, and taking a CBD capsule.
The effect of CBD for those who struggle with sciatica was tested in a 2019 study by the journal, Neuropsychopharmacology. During this test, researchers tested the effects of CBD on sciatic nerve injuries in mice. The results concluded that CBD was in fact mildly effective in reducing pain. There is much more research that will need to be conducted in the future, but this was a promising start.
How to Use Topical CBD for Sciatica
Using topical CBD for sciatica is almost always part of the solution. The number of products on the market vary widely in terms of their features, be it heating, cooling, and strength. There are many pain creams available, but the three most suited to this job are the Medterra 1000mg Cooling Cream or the Green Roads Heating or Cooling 750mg Roll-Ons. The Medterra 1000mg comes in just a 1.7 ounce container, so at nearly 600mg per ounce, it's super powerful while giving a slight cooling effect. The Green Roads Cooling or Heating Roll-On's are three(3) ounces each, with 750mg of CBD total. That's 250mg per ounce, which is still quite powerful and you can select a heat relief or cooling relief.
Just use them as needed for temporary (2-3 hour) pain relief. It can become a bit less practical if the coverage area is particularly large, but sometimes you need that extra relief of a topical.
Taking CBD Flower For Sciatica
Smoking CBD Flower can be one of the most effective ways to treat Sciatica since it enters your bloodstream immediately. Smoking flower or vaping isn't for everyone, but if you enjoy the sensation, then it is a great solution. CBD flower doesn't get you high, although many people describe a "body-high" and it has the aroma and function of smoking cannabis.
Flower comes in many varieties, some with more of a calming sensation like the Richie Rich below and some that are more energizing like the Lifter Sauce. This comes from the blend of Sativa or Indica cannabis plant versions in the particular hybrid used. Squish is a nice blend of all, leaving you relaxed but not giving you "couch-lock", meaning that you can't get off the couch. We carry brands that are very high in CBD percentage (18-20%), so be careful about other brands that may be less expensive but don't have an effective CBD percentage make-up.
How to Use CBD Oil for Sciatica
The second, and arguably the more important method of taking CBD for sciatica is ingesting it regularly. You can do this through a CBD Oil or tincture, capsule, edibles, or inhaling it through a vape device or directly from the CBD flower itself. Our Education Page and Product category pages describe each of these in-depth.
But let's select the most common and one of the most effective ways to get CBD into your system to help treat that sciatic nerve pain. Oils, or tinctures (just a term for CBD that is in an alcohol base), both can be taken sublingually which is a really successful way in our customers' experiences to get relief.
Another fun way to take oils and tinctures is to add it into your drinks. For morning glories, you can add these oils into your tea or coffee. If you choose to take your CBD in the evening and want to add it into a cocktail, go for it! You can also read more about the benefits and effects of mixing your CBD with alcohol here. Plus that blog includes some fun CBD cocktail recipes, too.
CBD Oil comes in many strengths, but we recommend using at least a 1000mg strength bottle that is typically 30ml in size. One dropper, containing approximately 33mg of CBD in a 1000mg bottle, twice a day, should be a great place to start. Track your reaction to it and adjust accordingly.
When it comes to oils and tinctures, or any of the other product types, you can often choose between full-spectrum, broad-spectrum or CBD isolate. It's important to remember that the full and broad-spectrum products have more of the additional cannabinoids and terpenes in them so that you get a broader "entourage effect". This could make all the difference in your results. Some examples are below.
How To Use CBD Capsules For Sciatica
If for some reason you are uncomfortable with smoking flower or taking the CBD oil sublingually, then capsules may be for you! Easy as taking a daily vitamin, you can take it anytime day or night just like a pill. Easy to remember and if you're already taking medication or vitamins, put it into your daily routine.
Without complicating matters, the full-spectrum capsules are the most effective for sciatica, with two great choices below.
Final Thoughts on Sciatica
As we reviewed, the causes for sciatica are many but the issue is the same. Pressure or friction on the sciatic nerve is causing pain and inflammation. It often radiates through your lower back and all the way down one or both legs. Dealing with it properly involves consulting a physician, doing some sort of moderate exercise, trying to address your risk factors, and taking CBD daily both as a topical and an oil. Your experience may be very situational, but please contact us if you have any questions about how best to use CBD for your pain.
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