Whether we like it or not, part of the human experience is pain. Physical pain comes along with all the other sensations of having a body. Luckily for us humans we have many different ways to move past the little aches and pains so we can enjoy all the other sensations these beautiful bodies provide us. Unfortunately for some however, the aches aren’t so little. In fact, according to the CDC, 50 million adult Americans suffer from some form of chronic pain. This is much more extreme and lasts a great deal longer than the acute pain most of us are accustomed to feeling.
What is Chronic Pain
The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stoke explain chronic pain as follows:
While acute pain is a normal sensation triggered in the nervous system to alert you to possible injury and the need to take care of yourself, chronic pain is different. Chronic pain persists. Pain signals keep firing in the nervous system for weeks, months, even years. There may have been an initial mishap — sprained back, serious infection, or there may be an ongoing cause of pain — arthritis, cancer, ear infection, but some people suffer chronic pain in the absence of any past injury or evidence of body damage. Many chronic pain conditions affect older adults. Common chronic pain complaints include headache, low back pain, cancer pain, arthritis pain, neurogenic pain (pain resulting from damage to the peripheral nerves or to the central nervous system itself), psychogenic pain (pain not due to past disease or injury or any visible sign of damage inside or outside the nervous system). A person may have two or more co-existing chronic pain conditions. Such conditions can include chronic fatigue syndrome, endometriosis, fibromyalgia, inflammatory bowel disease, interstitial cystitis, temporomandibular joint dysfunction, and vulvodynia. It is not known whether these disorders share a common cause.
So while all humans will experience some form of pain in their lives, chronic pain is different and thus may need to be managed differently from other lesser aches and pains.
Acute vs Chronic Pain: How to Tell the Difference
Pain is pain right…? Well, not exactly. According to medical professionals, the cause, intensity, and duration separate pain into different categories.
The National Institute of Health has this to say about the difference between acute and chronic pain:
Acute and chronic pain are different clinical entities. Acute pain is provoked by a specific disease or injury, serves a useful biologic purpose, is associated with skeletal muscle spasm and sympathetic nervous system activation, and is self-limited. Chronic pain, in contrast, may be considered a disease state. It is pain that outlasts the normal time of healing, if associated with a disease or injury. Chronic pain may arise from psychological states, serves no biologic purpose, and has no recognizable end-point.
Additionally, when the underlying cause of acute pain heals, the pain resolves. Whereas chronic pain persists and usually cause is an ongoing condition such as cancer or arthritis.
Common Types of Chronic Pain
Chronic pain can come in many forms throughout any area of the body. The most prevalent forms of chronic pain are:
- Migraines / Headaches
- Back Pain
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Body Pain from Nerve Damage
Common Chronic Pain Management Techniques
Many different approaches may be employed to treat chronic pain. The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stoke recommend medication, acupuncture, brain and local electrical stimulation, and if necessary, surgery.
Additional techniques used to manage chronic pain can be relaxation and meditation therapies, behavior modification, and even change in diet.
Due to the fact that most chronic pain stems from another underlying cause, often management of the pain is the most a person can do. Many suffering do not want to take medications for their side effects and possibility of dependency. For most, pain management is a combination of the above techniques.
Using CBD for Chronic Pain
Studies are finding that CBD oil could be an added method for chronic pain management. In fact, in 2005 and 2007 respectively, Canada approved CBD for the treatment of central neuropathic pain for multiple sclerosis and for intractable cancer pain.
Overall, CBD is an emerging, legal option for chronic pain patients. Unlike opiates, CBD isn’t debilitating or psychoactive, won’t cause dependency or addiction, and is a good long term solution to a long term problem.
CBD for Back Pain
CBD can be used for back pain in two ways. Taking CBD orally can help reduce inflammation that may be the cause of back pain. Additionally, CBD can be used topically to allow the calming effects to be applied directly to the back.
CBD for Nerve Pain
The Journal of Experimental Medicine conducted a study that found cannabinoids target glycine receptors to suppress inflammation and neuropathic pain. Dysfunction of these receptors can be the cause of chronic nerve pain. The study stated, “These cannabinoids may represent a novel class of therapeutic agents for the treatment of chronic pain and other diseases involving GlyR [Glycine Receptor Trafficking in Neurological Diseases] dysfunction.”
CBD for Joint Pain
The many forms of arthritis are some of the main causes of chronic joint pain. Researchers from the National Arthritis Data Workgroup working with data from national surveys at the U.S. Census Bureau reported that 46 million adult Americans suffer from arthritis. That is nearly 21% of the adult population in joint pain. Luckily for arthritis sufferers, CBD may be able to help. Multiple studies have been conducted on the potential CBD has as an anti-inflammatory – which inflammation is a leading cause in arthritis pain. Although the medical community believes more research still needs to be conducted, current studies are showing CBD to be helpful in joint pain management.
CBD for Muscle Pain
A CBD infused salve or balm is a great option for muscle pain. The act of rubbing the salve on the sore again can begin to relax the muscles. The CBD absorption through the skin provides rapid and targeted relief. Current studies are showing CBD topical agents to be beneficial in treatment of joint and muscle pain without the negative side effects of other treatment plans.
CBD Dosage for Pain
Those using CBD to cope with chronic pain should take a supplement at least daily. Due to this, CBD oil in the form of sublingual drops or capsules may be the most convenient forms of consumption. Because each person’s needs and tolerance will be different, it’s best to work with an herbalist or natural medicine practitioner experienced in the use of CBD therapy.
It’s always recommended to start low and slowly increase dosage from 5 milligrams up to find the best serving for you. Like any remedy or medication, CBD should be combined with other holistic lifestyle treatments such as stress reduction, a healthy diet, and exercise for optimal results.
When it comes to topicals you can toss the “start low and grow slow” out the window. Luckily, you cannot overdose from CBD – especially transdermally. Before use, check the ingredients of your balm/salve or lotion. Each product will have different ingredients so be sure you aren’t sensitive to any of the products other ingredients. Once you have your preferred product, use liberally and often. Continued application may provide enough relief to manage your pain that you can decrease or possibly even remove pain killers from your treatment plan.
No one wants to live in pain. Unfortunately for many living pain free is not always an option. Finding a treatment plans that works for you to manage chronic pain can be incredibly important for functioning in everyday life. CBD could be the addition to your treatment plan that you have been searching for.
Posted with permission from our friends at The Alchemist’s Kitchen. Check out their Virtual Learning platform focused on the medicinal benefits derived from the use of botanical medicines and herbal remedies.