What Causes Chronic Pain?
28 Oct 2020-
Some days it feels as though there’s a hot poker repeatedly prodding me in the side. Other days, I’ll bend over and be unable to stand up again, the pain gripping me in the lower back and cascading down the backs of my legs. Every day, I wake up with back and knee pain. It makes it difficult to concentrate. It’s tiring. Over-the-counter and prescription painkillers can provide temporary respite, sure. But considering the high risk of side effects (short-term: brain fog, fatigue, nausea; long-term: potential kidney or liver damage, dependency), I’d rather not go there if I can help it.
My experience isn’t unusual. Millions of people experience severe acute or chronic pain. And I’m among the lucky ones; for many, chronic pain and the conditions that cause it can be life-altering and debilitating.
Several factors can cause chronic pain, including conditions from arthritis and fibromyalgia to multiple sclerosis and scoliosis and injuries, such as broken bones, slipped discs, and damaged nerves. While more research is needed to determine how CBD works in the body, we know it can seems to support a healthy pain response to several kinds of pain including chronic pain caused by back injury, fibromyalgia, arthritis, and multiple sclerosis.
Back pain is one of the main reasons for missed work and a leading cause of disability worldwide. The spine does a lot of heavy lifting. It keeps us upright and is the literal backbone of our musculoskeletal system. Along with the brain, it also houses our central nervous system.
But the spine is also delicate. It doesn’t take a lot for this intricate network of vertebrae, nerves, and muscles to go out of balance. If you’ve ever fallen off of a bike and smacked your tailbone, slipped a disc while moving furniture, or experienced neck or lower back pain after a long day at work, you know that well.
Various factors can cause problems, including scoliosis, conditions such as pregnancy, and injuries, including car crashes, improper lifting, and sports accidents. Lifestyle factors can contribute too. For example, people who have to sit or stand for several hours a day at work for many years may develop chronic back pain and, in some cases, issues like degenerative disc disease. Repetitive motions, such as bending and lifting, are a common cause of problems too.
CBD can help with chronic back pain in a few ways. It can support pain sensation, and a healthy inflammatory response. Back pain is one of the leading causes of insomnia and sleep difficulties. CBD’s known ability to help you maintain healthy sleep cycles means you may fall asleep faster and sleep better.
Fibromyalgia is a chronic neurological disorder that can cause widespread pain in the bones and muscles, fatigue, “brain fog” and other cognitive difficulties, and insomnia. Other symptoms can include headaches, depression and anxiety, digestive issues, tingling or numbness in the hands or feet, and jaw or face pain. Fibromyalgia affects how people process pain. Those with the disorder are more sensitive to pain than people without it, particularly in certain affected “regions” of the body.
Doctors aren’t yet sure what causes it, and there is no cure. However, CBD may help support the pain response associated with fibromyalgia, as well as support a healthy emotional and mental state.
There are more than 100 kinds of arthritis, an autoimmune disease that can affect various parts of the body, from the organs to joints. Many types of arthritis, including rheumatoid arthritis (RA), can cause chronic pain, especially in the joints, such as hands, wrists, knees, elbows, and ankles. In addition to pain, the inflammation caused by arthritis can cause stiffness and reduced mobility. Eventually, inflammation can cause permanent damage to the affected area.
So far, studies on CBD for arthritis treatment have yielded positive results. A study published in the European Journal of Pain, for instance, found CBD may support a much healthier pain response in arthritis sufferers. The Arthritis Foundation also conducted a study that found most respondents either have used or are using CBD to manage their condition.
MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS (MS)
According to Mayo Clinic, MS is an autoimmune disease affecting the central nervous system. In a person with MS, the immune system attacks the myelin, a protective nerve fiber covering. This inhibits communication between the brain and the body.
There are different types of MS. Some people experience long periods of remission with no new symptoms, while for others, the disease progresses rapidly. Symptoms vary in type and severity, but the most common is muscle spasms, which can be extremely painful. Other symptoms include numbness (especially in the legs) and sensitivity to heat. Eventually, MS can lead to permanent nerve damage or deterioration. In some people, this causes permanent disability (specifically, the inability to walk independently).
There is no cure for MS. But, as Medical News Today explains, research shows CBD can help sufferers maintain a healthy nervous system, keep a positive outlook, and keep a healthy muscle response to spasticity.
CBD isn’t a magic potion. I know it’s not what you wanted to hear. But like most things, health and wellness-related, it works best in conjunction with other elements. Talk with your doctor to design a pain management strategy based on your symptoms and the cause of your condition. They may recommend using CBD along with painkillers for severe chronic pain. You might also benefit from CBD along with chiropractic care, physical therapy, or lifestyle changes such as taking up yoga or switching up your diet. Talk to friends or research online to find out what’s working for others with your condition as well. Many organizations, like the Arthritis Foundation, have released guidelines to help people get started with CBD.
Sources:“Cannabinoids in the management of difficult to treat pain.” Therapeutics and Clinical Risk Management“Does CBD oil work for chronic pain management?” Medical News Today“Transdermal cannabidiol reduces inflammation and pain-related behaviors in a rat model of arthritis.” European Pain Federation“Cannabidiol (CBD) and its analogs: a review of their effects on inflammation.” Bioorganic & Medicinal Chemistry“Cannabinoids and Pain: New Insights From Old Molecules.” Frontiers in Pharmacology
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