What is chronic pain?
If you ask health care practitioners about the most challenging condition to treat, chronic pain is mentioned frequently. In general, chronic pain is a complicated syndrome and multidimensional experience. Pain perception is affected by our physiology, our mood, our social environment, and experiences. If you are suffering from chronic pain, you may know the heavy burden clearly.
Chronic pain is usually caused by an initial injury, such as a back sprain or pulled muscle. Scientists believe that chronic pain results from nerve damage which makes pain more intense and durable. In these cases, treating the initial injury may not resolve the disease. However, people sometimes experience chronic pain without any injury and the exact cause of chronic pain without injury isn’t understood clearly. The health conditions which cause chronic pain include chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, inflammatory bowel disease, back problems, arthritis and nerve damage.
In modern life, US adults have an inclination to use CBD as an antidote to the pressure of life and health conditions. In a recent survey conducted with the Harris Poll, Quartz asked over 2,000 Americans about their use and perceptions of CBD, nearly 40% of US adults have used CBD to relieve chronic pain.
According to the Committee on advancing pain research care and education 2011, chronic pain affects between 50 and 116 million American adults, a staggering number that predominates those affected by cardiovascular disease, cancer, and diabetes combined. In addition, these reports conclude that chronic pain costs between $560 and $635 billion annually in both medical expenses, quality of life and lost productivity. Although there have been some recent therapeutic advances, many patients with chronic pain develop tolerance to conventional medical treatments or suffer adverse effects from widely used prescription medications, such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agents (NSAIDs) or opioids, that have high addictive potential.
Given the ongoing challenges of chronic pain management coupled with the consequences of the opioid abuse, healthcare providers and their patients are looking for effective and safer alternatives to opioids to manage pain.
Using CBD to treat chronic pain
Cannabis and its components are being widely used for chronic pain, especially given the multifaceted and persistent nature of chronic pain in many conditions. Cannabidiol (CBD), one of the major cannabinoids, has gained significant attraction because it doesn’t have the psychoactive effects which is associated with tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), another major constituent of cannabis (Leweke et al., 2012). Preclinical and clinical studies have indicated a potential benefit of CBD use in chronic pain associated with multiple conditions.
As early as 2003, clinical trials involving CBD for the treatment of chronic pain have shown its effectiveness; many of these studies have been well-designed, randomized, double-blinded, and placebo-controlled.
In a mixed cohort of patients suffering from intractable pain due to multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injury, brachial plexus injury, and limb amputation, CBD treatment significantly reduced pain on a visual analog scale (Wade et al., 2003).
A New Zealand study on the safety of CBD treatment in 400 non-cancer chronic pain patients indicated its safety for prolonged use, which was accompanied by self-reported improvements in pain and quality of life.
Study also shows that the combination of CBD and THC often improved the side effects and psychoactive impact of THC-only administration (Ueberall et al., 2019). The CBD : THC formulations were effective at reducing mean pain scores in chronic pain patients with multiple sclerosis, improved neurophysical measurements in response to noxious stimuli, reduced intractable chronic pain in advanced cancer, and improved refractory/neuropathic pain following failed spinal cord surgery.
Be aware of side effects
Most people tolerate CBD oil well, but there are some possible side effects. According to a 2017 review in Cannabinoid Research, the most common side effects exprienced include: fatigue, diarrhea, changes in appetite and weight loss. Our advice is to start low, go slow to increase the tolerance of body to CBD, that help reduce the side effects, as well as finding out your lowest therapeutic dose to treat your condition. CBD causes mild hypotension. So if you have low blood pressure, start taking CBD at a low dose and monitor your blood pressure regularly with a blood pressure monitor, especially if you're new to CBD or have just started taking CBD again after a period of discontinuation.
So far, CBD oil does show promise as a treatment for pain. Some scientific and anecdotal evidence suggests that it can help people manage chronic pain in various contexts. CBD oil is especially promising due to its lack of intoxicating effects and a possible lower potential for side effects than other pain medications. People should discuss CBD oil with their doctor if they are considering using it for the first time.