Does CBD help with chronic pain?

Does CBD help with chronic pain?

One common use of CBD is to help manage pain. But what does the research say about the role of CBD in treating chronic pain? Let’s take a look. 

Disclaimer: This information is meant simply for educational purposes and should not be mistaken for medical advice. Before using CBD make sure to talk with your trusted healthcare provider. This page may contain also affiliate links. Read my full disclosure here.

After looking at the potential effects of CBD on anxiety and sleep, the next clear topic was pain management. After all, one of the big markets for CBD is older adults experiencing chronic pain. 

However, that doesn’t mean that younger adults aren’t using it to help manage soreness either. In fact, topical CBD creams have become popular with professional and recreational athletes. 

Let’s take a look at what the research currently says about CBD’s potential effectiveness in managing chronic pain. 

Why CBD may be effective for pain management. 

In general, CBD is thought to help with neuropathic pain — pain that’s usually caused by chronic, progessive damage to your nervous system. However, it can also occur due to injury or illness (1). 

Potential causes of neuropathic pain include: 

  • Carpal tunnel syndrome. 
  • Multiple sclerosis.
  • Cancer treatment.
  • Diabetes. 
  • Arthritis (although this can also cause another type of pain called nociceptive pain). 

And one of the key pathways of neuropathic pain is called the glutaminergic system (2). 

Glutamate is a type of neurotransmitter that is responsible for turning on the glutaminergic system and causing us to feel this chronic pain (of course, there’s a much more scientific explanation that you can read if you’re interested) (2). 

Current research has shown that CBD can inhibit the release of glutamate, and other inflammatory agents. As a result, researchers suggest that CBD may play an important role in managing neuropathic pain (2).

CBD may also help with other types of pain due to its effects on the endocannabinoid system and its ability to reduce inflammation (3, 4). 

Unfortunately, while test tube studies can suggest how CBD may be effective, there’s an overall lack of research in humans to prove whether or not it’s effective in treating various types of chronic pain. 

CBD for arthritis pain

One of the most studied categories of pain with CBD is arthritis pain. And more specifically, osteoarthritis, which is one of the most common forms of arthritis that’s caused by the breakdown of protective tissue (cartilage) at the ends of bones (5). 

Several rat studies have found significant improvements in osteoarthritis pain with the use of CBD supplements and topical creams (6, 7, 8).

Additionally, another study in rats found that topical use of CBD cream significantly reduced symptoms of arthritis pain, including joint swelling and inflammatory markers (9). 

While promising, more research is needed in humans to determine what the most effective dose and method of use (topical vs. supplements) may be.  

CBD for sore muscles 

Personally, I’ve found CBD to be helpful in relieving neck and shoulder pain from typing all day, as well as leg soreness after skiing and hiking. However, the product I use isn’t pure CBD. It also contains essential oils, which could also be part of why I find relief. 

Many of my friends have also reported improvements in back spasms and muscle soreness by applying CBD cream to the affected area daily (or even twice a day). 

But what does the research say?

Unfortunately there currently aren’t any clinical trials on the effectiveness of CBD for helping with muscle soreness and inflammation. 

However, based on current findings, researchers hypothesize that topical use of CBD creams likely can be beneficial as CBD can interact with endocannabinoid receptors in your skin, which in turn reduces inflammation and leads to less pain and soreness (10). 

CBD for fibromyalgia 

This one is tough as I couldn’t find a study that looked at CBD on its own with fibromyalgia. Instead, current research is on THC alone, or various combinations of THC and CBD. 

While some studies have found reductions in fibromyalgia pain and other related symptoms, others have found THC to be no more effective than a placebo (A, B). 

Should I use a CBD topical cream or supplement to manage my pain?

Possibly, but only with the approval and recommendation of your trusted healthcare provider. 

Topical use of CBD can be a good place to start as the CBD doesn’t get into your bloodstream. 

This means that it’s less likely to interact with any medications you may be taking (although, it’s still important to talk with your doctor first if you are taking any medications that could be affected). See why CBD isn’t for everyone

If you do decide to use topical creams, I recommend following the directions on the package. Also make sure to know that what you’re buying actually contains what it says it does. 

Choosing a CBD product to help with pain 

You can find out how to choose a reliable CBD product in my previous post

As for product recommendations, my go-to brand is CBDistillery. I use their relief stick all the time, but they also have topical creams to try out as well. 

If you do decide to buy from CBDistillery, you can get 15% off your order when you enter NEWMIND at checkout! 

For more information on CBD, be sure to check out my articles over on the Wellness Page!

Does CBD help with chronic pain?

The information contained in this website is not intended to recommend the self-management of health problems or wellness. It is not intended to endorse or recommend any particular type of medical treatment. Should any reader have any healthcare-related questions, promptly call or consult your physician or healthcare provider. No information contained in this website should be used by any reader to disregard medical and/or health-related advice or provide a basis to delay a consultation with a physician or a qualified healthcare provider. The statements on this website have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Products discussed are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

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I’m Kelli MS, RD. As a foodie with a background in nutrition research, I’m a firm believer that what we eat affects nearly every aspect of our wellbeing, and that food should taste freaking delicious.

Welcome to New Mind Nutrition!

My name is Kelli McGrane, and I’m a Denver-based registered dietitian with a Master’s degree in nutrition.

As a foodie with a background in nutrition research, I’m a firm believer that what we eat affects nearly every aspect of our wellbeing, and that food should taste freaking delicious.

My goal with New Mind is to help you find balance in both your mind and body through nutrition research and whole foods-based recipes.

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