Almost every day, someone contacts us or comes in 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 should be a beneficial part of your treatment.
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 in 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 of 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. But as we said, it is very common to not have identified any specific cause. 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 never 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 never 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 natural shape. One recommended form of exercise is yoga. Practicing yoga can help to stretch and soothe your muscles.
Pain and inflammation are key elements of the sciatic nerve pain. CBD use 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 paths to go down. The first, using a topical for short-term 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.
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. You can read about our comparison of four (4) pain creams that we would recommend, and they are shown below. They include Pachamama Pain Cream, Medterra Cooling Cream (750mg), Green Roads Muscle & Joint Heat Relief (500mg), Green Roads Muscle & Joint Relief Cream (300mg).
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.
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, a CBD capsule, CBD 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. CBD 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. 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 CBD 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.
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.