Millions of people suffer from chronic pain in the United Kingdom. While researchers are busy uncovering the cause of this growing health problem, patients are looking for new and alternative ways to manage their pain. Could CBD cream provide a safe and effective alternative to relief from chronic pain?
What is chronic pain?
Chronic pain is defined by medical experts as any pain lasting longer than 12 weeks. It usually appears after an injury or surgical procedure, but in some people, there is no obvious underlying cause. Several health conditions are associated with chronic pain:
- Irritable bowel
- Back problems
When most people recover from an injury or health condition, the pain disappears along with the problem, but for people with chronic pain, it never goes away.
Chronic pain can also lead to trouble sleeping, a poor appetite, a lack of energy, and a feeling of weakness. If you are having trouble sleeping then no doubt this will make the pain feel more intense, which in turn will stop you getting a good night's sleep.
There is no way of telling who will develop chronic pain - it affects people of all ages and can appear in any part of the body. Some evidence suggests that it is more likely to affect people who are under extreme stress or those who are unhappy.
In fact, depression and chronic pain often go hand-in-hand, one leading to the other in a vicious cycle. But there is a way to manage the symptoms of chronic pain.
Managing chronic pain
Pain management is a type of plan that combines different treatments to help people living with chronic pain manage their symptoms. It often includes:
- Activity and exercise
- Relaxation techniques
- Pain relievers (medication or a TENS machine)
- Physical therapy
- Counselling and support groups
If you have chronic pain then you might benefit from talking to others in a similar situation - not only is this a great way to find out what works for other people, but activities like this can also help with low mood.
Often GPs will prescribe antidepressants to treat anxiety and low mood in their patients, but increasingly people are looking for natural remedies with fewer side effects.
What is CBD oil and how does it work?
CBD is one of hundreds of cannabinoids found in the hemp plant. A cannabinoid is a naturally occurring, organic compound, that is extracted from the plant as an oil.
Unlike some cannabinoids, such as tetrahydrocannabinol, which is taken from a different type of cannabis plant (marijuana), CBD does not cause a 'high' and isn't addictive. In fact, CBD oil is considered a safe alternative to traditional pain relief drugs.
It works by interacting with the body's endocannabinoid system (ECS). This is a complex system of nerve receptors that keeps the body's internal environment stable, known as homeostasis. The ECS helps regulate a range of functions, including:
If you suffer from an injury or a health problem, then your ECS kicks into action to return the body to it's normal balanced state by intercepting nerve signals to your brain. There are several ways that cannabinoids can help manage chronic pain.
- Reduce inflammation
- Manage anxiety and low mood
- Improve sleep
CBD oil - cannabidiol - can be applied directly as a cream, taken as a tincture (drops), or added to food and drink. Getting a good night's sleep and managing anxiety can both help to treat chronic pain, but perhaps its greatest benefit is reducing inflammation.
Does CBD cream help with chronic pain?
Cannabidiol (CBD) is an anti-inflammatory and has analgesic properties. It can be applied directly to the site of the pain as a gel, cream, balm, or massage oil.
Topical products interact directly with the cannabinoid receptors in the affected part of the body for immediate pain relief. If you are suffering from arthritis, for example, a CBD gel applied directly to the problem area can reduce inflammation and improve joint pain.
Chronic back pain can also be soothed with a cannabidiol muscle rub or massage oil, targeting the receptors in the spine directly for maximum effect.
CBD products are also used by sports people to treat acute pain after an injury, or worn and tired muscles. As CBD oil is found naturally, it is considered a safe alternative to some other types of pain medicine, and is free from any nasty side effects.
Topical CBD cream is most effective when it is combined with drops and sprays.
Other cannabidiol products
A tincture, in the form of drops, targets the inner workings of the nervous system - the bits you can't see. These drops complement the work of CBD creams by regulating other parts of the body that can affect chronic pain, including sleep and anxiety.
Drops are the perfect way to start your journey into CBD treatment, because the dosage can be carefully controlled. This is known as micro-dosing, and it allows you to start with small amounts and slowly increase the amount you take, until you work out what works best for you. It cuts down on waste and maximises the benefits of CBD oil.
The key takeaway
Chronic pain can be debilitating, affecting day-to-day life. It can stop you sleeping and eating well, and even prevent you enjoying your normal daily activities.
CBD oil offers an alternative to traditional pain relief medication. It complements other treatments, like counselling and physical therapy, to manage chronic pain.
Topical products such as muscle rubs and creams target receptors at the site of the pain to reduce inflammation for fast-acting pain relief.
Drops, sprays, and other CBD products can help to improve sleep and reduce anxiety.
If you've been in pain for 12 weeks or more, seek medical advice. Your GP can diagnose any underlying medical conditions, and if you are suffering from chronic pain, they will refer you to a pain clinic for help managing your symptoms.