Does CBD Help Spine Pain?

Everyone must know someone with some sort of pain problem who has mentioned the use of Cannabidiol (CBD). Does it help with pain?

Cannabidiol is a compound found in marijuana that is not impairing, meaning it does not cause you to become “high”. It can be derived from hemp or from non-hemp plants. Hemp is defined as any part of the cannabis sativa plant with no more than 0.3% of tetrahydrocannabinol or THC, the mind-altering substance in marijuana that does cause you to get “high”. In 2018, the U.S. Congress passed and signed into law the Agriculture Improvement Act [2]. The purpose of this law was to remove hemp from the federal Controlled Substances Act, effectively legalizing CBD but does differ across states. CBD is marketed in many consumer products: (1) foods, (2) oils, (3) lotions, (4) capsules, and (5) cosmetics.

A recent study survey of nine spine surgeons to their patients was given over a 4-week period [1]. Patients were included regardless of surgical status including patients before surgery, those after surgery or those that had no surgery. Pain could include be due to any pathology and include any part of the spine: lumbar, thoracic, or cervical. The survey consisted of multiple-choice questions on patient patterns of CBD use. Results showed that 214 (71%) of 300 respondents reported CBD use overall with 54 (25%) patients using for spine-related pain. Prior to surgery, it was used for potential relief of back pain (67%), neck pain (37%), leg pain (35%), and/or arm pain (9%). Some patients responded with some improvements in insomnia (26%) and mood (19%). In this study, the most common formulation was Oil (65%) used 2 – 5 times per day or 6 – 10 times per week. Benefits for those involved in study were pain relief (46%), improved sleep (33%), and reduced anxiety (20%). Overall, almost 25% reported no benefit at all from CBD use.

In general, scientists are still learning about CBD and its effects on the rest of the body. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved Epidiolex, a medicine that contains purified CBD from hemp, to help treat rare seizure disorders [2]. The FDA has concluded that this drug is safe and effective for this intended use. However, other marketed products and uses of CBD may not be FDA approved. References:

  1. Lovecchio F, Langhans M, Bennett T, Steinhaus M, Premkumar A, Cunningham M, Farmer J, Albert T, Huang R, Yoshira K, Katsuura Y, Qureshi S, Schwab F, Sandhu H, Kim HJ, Lafage V, Iyer. Prevalence of Cannabidiol Use in Patients With Spine Complaints: Results of an Anonymous Survey. Int J Spine Surg. 15(4):663-668.