There’s a lot of misconception about what sciatica actually is.
First and foremost, it is not, in fact, a medical condition in itself; it’s only a symptom of some other underlying problem, for example, lumbar herniated disc, or spinal stenosis.
Generally speaking, sciatica describes the symptoms of pain that travels through the large sciatic nerve and as this pain can be caused by so many different medical conditions, this is the reason why “sciatica” is so widely prevalent. Recent estimations, in fact, have suggested that up to 40% of U.S. adults will at some point or another experience sciatic nerve pain.
Although not classed as a medical condition by itself, we certainly cannot undermine or devalue the severity of the condition – anyone who’s suffered from sciatic nerve pain will tell you how hellishly agonizing it can be. Millions of people each year end up resorting to heavy prescription medications in order to treat the often-times debilitating pain. And needless to say, we’re all well aware of the abuse and addiction risks (and not to mention the dangerous side-effects) that come along with prescription pharmaceutical drug use.
This is where cannabis comes in. CBD oil for sciatica, in particular, has proven in the past couple years to be an absolutely phenomenal option for both acute and chronic pain management, and more and more people (as well as physicians) are starting to turn to it as a more-than-viable alternative to prescription med options.
In this article, we’ll discuss how exactly the sciatic nerve is irritated, and what CBD does to mollify not only the pain itself, but also the underlying conditions. And last but not least, we’ll also dish out a few of our top picks for the best CBD oils for sciatica that you’ll currently find on the market.
What is Sciatica?
The sciatic nerve is the longest and widest nerve in the human body: it starts in the lower back and extends downwards through the buttocks and into each leg, innervating everything from the toes to the lower back muscles.
Pain associated with the nerve can range anywhere from a mild tingling sensation in the feet or toes, to completely debilitating and immobilizing lower back and leg pain.
While there are loads of things that can ultimately irritate the nerve and cause acute or temporary discomfort, by far the most common cause of chronic sciatica is a herniated (slipped) disc, wherein the jelly-like disc protrudes from the spinal column and presses up against the nerve itself.
The tough thing about treating slipped discs, though, is that once they become “dislodged” from underneath the vertebrae, they don’t typically heal all that well or go back into place on their own merit. Naturally, this can result in incredibly frustrating and long-term conditions wherein intense pain can be a day-to-day occurrence.
Other causes of sciatica can include pinched/compressed nerves in the lower vertebrae, acute injuries, and severe conditions like lumbar spinal stenosis, just to name a few.
And as far as those people most at risk, individuals with overly-strenuous physical labor jobs are much more likely to develop sciatic nerve pain, as are individuals who sit for extremely long periods of time (i.e. 8+ hours a day for years on end) without walking/stretching breaks.
Conventional Treatment Methods for Sciatica (Not CBD)
Treatment options for sciatic nerve pain are about as far-reaching as the vast assortment of medical conditions that cause it: while many individuals are able to find relief through lower-back stretches and body strengthening workouts like yoga and pilates, many others are left with not much alternative other than to rely on heavy-duty prescription painkillers.
In relatively mild instances wherein the pain stems from inflamed tissue coming into contact with the nerve, alternating hot and cold packs have proven to be effective, as have general over the counter drugs like ibuprofen.
Physical therapy is also an efficient and very commonly recommended treatment, as is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) in which patients are ‘trained’ to react differently to pain sensations. While a rather interesting approach, results can be pretty hit or miss with CBT, though.
And of course, surgery can also be an option as well in the most severe of cases, with procedures like lumbar laminectomies (widening of the vertebrae to minimize pressure on the nerve) and discectomies (complete removal of slipped discs) having proven to be especially effective. In any instance, though, surgery should always be a last resort option.
All in all, those individuals who end up seeking alternative treatment methods like CBD oil for their sciatica are chronic sufferers who are faced with not many other options than heavy-duty dosages of prescription medications to alleviate the pain.
CBD Oil for Sciatica: A Superior Alternative to Prescription Meds?
As we mentioned in the intro, there have been tons of people in recent years that have successfully replaced their pharmaceutical meds in favor of CBD oil for sciatica. Not only is CBD a drastically cheaper option, it also poses virtually no side-effects, which is a major consideration taking into account the stone-showering of serious complications associated with most conventional painkillers.
The real question, though, is how exactly does medical marijuana for sciatica work to appease the intense pain that comes along with chronic conditions like pinched nerves or herniated discs?
To understand its specific physiological role in the body, we need to first understand the basic role of the endocannabinoid system as it relates to pain sensation and pain management pathways in the central nervous system.
Four years ago, doctors Perry Fine and Mark Rosenfeld published a peer-reviewed study showcasing the physiological functions of endocannabinoids as therapeutic pain modulators. Essentially, their work portrayed the fact that everyone – whether they’ve smoked marijuana a day in their life or not – has an innate network of endocannabinoids and cannabinoid receptors that work together to modulate the pathways of nociception, which is the body’s response to ‘harmful stimuli’.
In the event of abnormal circumstances (i.e. a herniated disc pressing up against your sciatic nerve), the endocannabinoid system becomes overwhelmed and is unable to perform at its normal rate of efficiency. This is when – and why – we experience bouts of unbearable pain, and is also when the therapeutic effects of CBD become absolutely critical.
Functionally, CBD acts as a ‘reinforcement’ to the body’s natural pain management system – that is, to its network of endocannabinoids and cannabinoid receptors. Being a cannabinoid itself, it increases the number of “pain modulators” that are available to initiate the response to harmful stimuli (again, something like a bulging disc or an inflamed tissue pressing up against the sciatic nerve). In other words, it increases the body’s overall ability to minimize the pain sensation under “abnormal conditions”.
Consider it this way: when we have a bacterial infection we take antibiotics to “reinforce” the body’s immune system and help it overcome the ‘unexpected presence’ of harmful bacteria. CBD does the same thing, albeit with pain and the natural physiological processes of pain management.
CBD vs. THC: Are all Cannabinoids Created the Same?
As it turns out, both THC and CBD (the two primary cannabinoids in marijuana), have similar effects on the endocannabinoid system in terms of their ability to influence pain modulation.
However, due to the obvious psychoactive effects of THC, a lot of people are hesitant about using it as a medication, as they understandably don’t care to get have to get stoned in order to deal with their day-to-day pain.
This is why CBD – and CBD oil in particular – is such an incredible drug; it maintains its therapeutic effect as a cannabinoid while completely bypassing any unwanted psychoactive effects. In other words, it does everything that THC does, except get you high.
Just take it from Cain Velasquez, a popular MMA fighter who openly uses CBD oil for sciatic nerve pain. The fighter claims there were times in the past where his pain was so severe he could barely stand for more than ten minutes at a time, and in fact had to pull out of a few high-profile fights due to sciatica-related issues. Since discovering CBD oil, though, he says he’s been able to recover properly and train harder after fights, and also vows that it’s superior to conventional pain meds due to its non-addictive nature and complete lack of side effects .
Best CBD Oil for Sciatica: Our Top Picks
And finally, without further ado, as we tend not to play favorites and recommend one oil here are our top selections for the best CBD oils for sciatica that are currently available on the market. These specific tinctures are used literally by tens of thousands of sciatic nerve pain sufferers every day, and have proven to assist in easing the pain.
But before you rush out and purchase an oil it’s important to take into consideration the following things. Not all CBD oils are created alike and while one CBD oil might work for one person, it may not work for another. This due to many reasons; we each have our own Endocannabinoid system, genetics, general health and tolerance. When choosing a CBD oil, don’t expect immediate results. It is a process and can a while before the CBD starts to affect your system. Always do your research and if required consult with a medical professional before taking any CBD oil.
- Full-spectrum Hemp extract
- No pesticides, solvents or chemical fertilizers
- 3rd party laboratory tested
- Price Range ($48.00 – $139.00)
- Maximum potency and purity
- Compounded by a licensed pharmacist
- Highly concentrated extraction process
- Price Range ($26-$169)
- Over 5 Years Experience
- 3rd party laboratory tested
- Organic hemp CO2 extract tincture
- Price Range ($62.00 – $204.00)
- Organic hemp CO2 extract tincture
- Available in Cinnamint & Natural
- Full-spectrum extract
- Price Range ($39 - $249)