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What to do in case of back pain? This question is not uncommon. In fact, 80 percent of all adults are affected by back pain in the course of their lives. The pain can be so severe that it significantly impairs the quality of life. Lying down, sitting and walking - all of these can become a torment due to back issues. This article therefore aims to explain how the complaints arise and what measures can help. In addition, the article explores the question of whether CBD can help against back pain.
What lies behind specific back pain?
How do herniated discs develop?
What is non-specific back pain?
Relieve back pain: What treatment?
Back pain: When to see a doctor?
Preventing back pain in a targeted manner
Pain relief without painkillers
Pain conditions can have psychological triggers
Relieve back pain with CBD?
The cause of back pain is not so easy to identify and often remains unknown. Nevertheless, it is important to search for the triggers in order to be able to rule out serious illness. Based on the results of the examination, various treatment methods, such as targeted pain therapy, can then be used to achieve effective and long-term relief from back pain.
What lies behind specific back pain?
In general, back pain cannot be attributed to specific causes, but in some cases it can still be a sign of structural damage or serious medical conditions. Specific causes include:
- Narrowing of the spinal column
- Tumors or metastases in the spinal column
- Bone fracture at the vertebral body
- Bechterew's disease
- Acute herniated disc
In opposition to the other diseases listed here, a herniated disc is relatively common. About one to five percent of all people suffer from it at some point in their lives.
Often people also suffer from ischialgia - popularly known as "sciatica". These are painful conditions that have their causes in the back and radiate down one or both legs to the foot. In addition, there may be pain in the glutes and - in rare cases - numbness and paralysis. This can indicate dangerous nerve damage and should be examined by a doctor.
How do herniated discs develop?
They are usually the result of wear and tear, which usually occurs in the aging process. The intervertebral discs lie between the vertebrae and serve as a kind of shock absorber for the spine. When the soft gelatinous core of the disc slips, the vertebrae are no longer properly cushioned and the disc tissue can press on a nerve in the spinal cord. This can be extremely painful.
A characteristic feature of this disease is that the pain radiates to other areas of the body. A herniated disc is particularly common in the lumbar spine (LS) because this is where the stress is greatest.
What is non-specific low back pain?
If there is no structural damage to the back and no clear, treatable cause can be found, experts speak of non-specific low back pain. This does not mean, however, that in this form there are no influencing factors that cause or promote back problems. These include, among others:
- Lack of movement
- Weak trunk and back muscles
- Muscle tension
- Incorrect posture or incorrect loads due to long immobile sitting, one-sided or heavy physical work
- Psychological pressure such as stress, anxiety or depression
- Changes in pain perception in the central nervous system
- Familial predisposition
However, about 85 percent of all back pain is described as non-specific. But even if the problems are not caused by a disease, they can still severely limit life and well-being.
Symptoms of back pain
In principle, all supporting parts of the back can hurt. These include:
- Vertebral bodies
- Intervertebral discs
The lumbar spine is particularly frequently affected. Pain that arises in the back area between the hip and the set of ribs is grouped under lumbar spine syndrome (LS syndrome). If a pain condition occurs very suddenly, it may be "lumbago". This causes severe pain, but usually only lasts for a short time, and can therefore be the and can therefore be classified as acute back pain. If it lasts longer than six weeks or occurs repeatedly, doctors refer to it as chronic pain.
Relieve back pain: Which treatment?
There is no universal method of treatment. Which method provides relief from back problems varies from person to person and depends on the trigger. Back pain therapy relies primarily on the interaction of different approaches. This can consist, for example, of physiotherapy and medication.
If serious diseases can be ruled out, pain prevention should be considered in addition to developing strategies for acute pain relief.
Back pain: When to see a doctor?
A first important step in the treatment of back pain: rule out possible diseases. At the latest, if the pain in the back lasts longer than three months, a doctor should be consulted. Also, if the pain is particularly severe or the following symptoms appear, the visit to the doctor should not be postponed any longer:
- Tingling or numbness in the limbs
- Paralysis symptoms
- Bladder or bowel dysfunction
- Unexplained weight loss
- Morning stiffness
Prevent back pain in a targeted manner
Back pain is often triggered by certain destructive behaviors and habits. Many people's daily lives are characterized by prolonged sitting, little exercise and a stressful daily routine. It is precisely this lifestyle that can be the cause of a painful back.
When the complaints then occur, this leads many of those affected to stop moving at all - for fear of aggravating the problems. However, a restrained posture is a wrong way to go. Regular exercise is one of the most important prerequisites for preventing and alleviating back pain.
Light exercise such as walking, swimming or cycling can be easily integrated into a stressful daily routine. Yoga, Pilates or stretching exercises are also recommended to loosen tense muscles and strengthen abdominal, pelvic and back muscles.
Pain relief without painkillers
Painkillers such as paracetamol or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (e.g. ibuprofen) can have an analgesic effect in acute pain and inflammation. But taking painkillers is not a permanent solution - especially if the back pain persists. This is because painkillers can trigger serious side effects if they are taken permanently.
Many people, therefore, prefer to rely on a natural therapeutic approach. An alternative to pain medications can be so-called passive treatment options. These include massage, acupuncture, and osteopathic treatments. Physiotherapists or osteopaths are able to relieve blockages, tension, or hardening of the spine and back muscles.
Help with acute pain attacks succeeds through heat therapy, for example with a hot water bottle or heat plasters.
Another effective tip for acute back pain is to lie down on the floor in a supine position and place your feet on a raised surface so that your lower and upper thighs form a 90-degree angle. This relaxes the back muscles.
Pain states may have psychological elicitors
Back pain can not only have a physical cause, the psychological condition is also a decisive influencing factor. Stress or psychological problems can not only trigger back pain but also intensify it. Thus, in the case of chronicity, cognitive behavioral therapy can help if necessary. In addition, mindfulness and relaxation exercises can help to stay relaxed and in harmony with one's body in everyday life.
Ease back pain with CBD
Before answering the question whether CBD can help against back pain, here is a short introduction to the topic of cannabidiol (CBD).
Cannabidiol (CBD) is a so-called cannabinoid from the hemp plant. Basically, this is a chemical substance that the hemp forms, among other things, for its own protection against predators or bacteria. The hemp plant can produce over 100 different cannabinoids, including the well-known tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) with its intoxicating effect. CBD, on the other hand, does not have an intoxicating effect.
When cannabinoids such as CBD enter the human body, they interact with cannabinoid receptors belonging to the endocannabinoid system. This endocannabinoid system is part of the nervous system and is involved in numerous processes, such as the sensation of pain or emotions. In this respect, it is quite conceivable that the intake of CBD influences the endocannabinoid system in such a way that back pain becomes more bearable.
CBD for back pain: what do studies say?
According to researchers, cannabidiol (CBD) may alter pain signaling and perception in low back pain. Experience has shown that CBD can reduce pain perception and anxiety. However, since there are no high-quality studies yet to clearly prove CBD's effects, further research is required.
Because CBD can have an anti-inflammatory effect, some studies suggest that CBD could be used for inflammation-related pain conditions, for example. Two patient reports state that a transdermal CBD cream (400mg) was able to have an analgesic and anti-inflammatory effect.
CBD products for back pain
CBD oil is certainly the most well-known CBD product that enjoys extremely high popularity. However, the CBD oil that is freely available for purchase is not used in studies because its quality varies depending on the manufacturer. In order to study the effect of CBD (cannabidiol), researchers:inside use only medical CBD in pharmaceutical quality or else synthetic CBD - and that too in a very high dosage, which is not achievable with normal CBD oil.
Nevertheless, it can be assumed that a high-quality CBD oil can cause positive effects. Since mild side effects, such as dry mouth, drowsiness, or low blood pressure, are rare, it could be a low side effect, alternative remedy to painkillers. However, since interactions between CBD and medications can occur, the intake should be discussed with a doctor in advance.
Conclusion: CBD for back pain
In the case of pain in the dorsal area, different triggers can come into question. Therefore, this should always be clarified by a doctor. Many people affected are looking for a way out of the pain and try various alternative methods, such as acupuncture, acupressure or osteopathy. Some also have positive experiences with one or the other active ingredient from nature.
Another alternative is CBD oil. This is because CBD can have anti-inflammatory and calming properties and change the sensation of pain. Since the quality of CBD products can vary enormously, you should always pay attention to the manufacturer and the method of production. A reputable manufacturer will provide detailed information about their CBD products. This includes the Swiss company ALPINOLS.
What should you not do in case of back pain?
Even if many people who suffer from low back pain feel more like resting in bed than exercising: If there are no serious illnesses, a protective posture is counterproductive. For good back health, prolonged sitting, such as is typical in everyday office life, should be avoided. This exposes the muscles to a large, one-sided load. Sleeping can also be done wrong. A back-damaging bed or the wrong sleeping position can aggravate the pain in the back.
What to do to relieve back pain?
Warmth (e.g. with a hot water bottle) and exercises that are gentle on the back provide relaxation in the back area and shoulders. A good tip to relieve acute pain in the short term is the step position. This involves lying on the floor in the supine position and placing the legs at a 90-degree angle on a higher surface such as the bed or a chair. Other effective measures include regular exercises to strengthen the back muscles and relaxation exercises that calm the mind and thus contribute to the well-being of the back.
What exercise is good for back pain?
To counteract chronic and acute back pain, one of the most helpful measures is regular exercise. Movements that are good for the back, for example, Nordic walking, swimming or cycling. Exercises that strengthen the muscles of the back are also recommended.
How can you relax the lower back?
Regular stretching exercises promise relief. This relieves and prevents tension and shortening in the back. In a simple exercise, you can lie down on the floor with your arms next to your body and your legs stretched out. The backs of the hands touch the floor and the palms face the ceiling so that a stretch can be felt in the lower back. It is important here to also pay attention to regular breathing.
ALPINOLS Author: Alexandra Latour
After ten years of freelance writing for renowned health portals and online magazines, Alexandra Latour took over as deputy editorial director of Leafly Germany, one of the best-known information portals on the topic of medical cannabis, in 2017. After closing the German branch of Leafly, she continued to work as a medical editor and consultant in the cannabis and CBD industry and, as editor-in-chief of an agency, takes over the quality control of high-quality content on the topics of medical cannabis and CBD.