Spinal stenosis can cause an immense amount of pain. Medical Marijuana may help patients suffering from severe spinal stenosis symptoms. Your access to this site has been limited by the site owner If you think you have been blocked in error, contact the owner of this site for assistance. If you are a WordPress user with CBD is gaining recognition as an effective natural painkiller, but is it good for spinal stenosis? We take a look at the research.
Medical Marijuana May Ease Pain Symptoms of Spinal Stenosis
Spinal Stenosis is primarily characterized by back pain and nerve-type symptoms that include tingling and numbness in the hands, arms, feet, and legs. Many patients that have back pain caused by stenosis are finding that medical cannabis is useful for pain management.
Medical cannabis contains hundreds of chemicals called cannabinoids. The most well-known and studied cannabinoids are Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) . These cannabinoids interact with the CB1 and CB2 receptors, which are receptors to the endocannabinoid system (ECS). The endocannabinoid system consists of fat-based neurotransmitters. When cannabis meets the endocannabinoid system, the neurotransmitter levels shift and help control pain and reduce inflammation , two major components of spinal stenosis symptoms (3).
For more information on how the endocannabinoid system works, please see our page on endocannabinoids here .
Treating Spinal Stenosis with Medical Cannabis
There are several symptoms that are related to stenosis and many of these conditions have clinical evidence that medical marijuana may help you. Cannabis and CBD oil are good options for patients seeking to limit addictive pain relievers or gabapentin.
Arthritis & Inflammation
If your stenosis is caused by arthritis or some other form of inflammation, using both CBD and THC has demonstrated reductions in inflammation by modulating the immune system to reduce attacking itself and thereby reducing inflammation (3).
Please see our arthritis and inflammation pages for more information.
Many patients with spinal stenosis also have pain that comes and goes. This is considered acute pain and may be effectively treated with medical cannabis as it acts like an analgesic, which is a medication that relieves pain. A review from Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research examined studies focusing on acute pain. Six trials with 678 participants examining oral and intramuscular use of cannabinoids show really promising results with a 95% confidence interval backing the results of these studies. Patients who received intramuscular cannabinoids showed a 95% reduction in acute pain compared to placebo (3). While oral consumption of cannabis was equivalent in reducing pain to the placebo, these studies are good groundwork and prove that high-quality research is still needed in this area.
Many patients use the whole cannabis plant or a 1:1 combination of CBD to THC to help relieve their chronic pain. Most pain research focuses on neuropathic pain and patients who do not see symptom relief with traditional pain medications. Improving your chronic pain with cannabis may also help improve your sleep and quality of life (9).
Check out our page on treating chronic pain for more information.
Peripheral Neuropathy & Sciatica
Many spinal stenosis patients experience nerve pain in their arms, hands, feet, and/or legs. To learn more about how to target tingling, numbness, or warm nerve pain associated with your condition, please check out our neuropathy and sciatica information pages.
Different Treatment Recommendations for Spinal Stenosis
As always, it is recommended while beginning cannabis or CBD treatment to start with low doses and to slowly increase the dose over time. You do not have to feel impaired to get pain relief and it is appropriate for patients worried about feeling impaired to begin treatment with CBD only. Research supports that CBD use topically with lotions and patches may potentially reduce neuropathic pain (12) . Of course, CBD use does not guarantee to be completely pain-free and may be part of a multimodal approach between you and your providers.
A task force meeting during PAINWeek 2020 has helped provide treatment guidelines for doctors prescribing medical cannabis for pain, including pain experienced by patients who have spinal stenosis. The task force recommends the following (1):
- Begin with 5mg of CBD twice a day and only add THC if there is no pain improvement with up to 40 mg of CBD .
- 2.5mg of THC should be introduced with CBD and gradually increased to 40mg of THC a day.
- Frail or elderly patients should begin with 1mg of THC per dose and gradually increase.
- Patients who have severe pain or previous cannabis use should begin with 2.5mg of CBD to THC (1:1 ratio) once or twice a day.
Spinal Stenosis and Medical Cannabis: Considerations to Keep in Mind
It is important to talk to your doctor before starting medical cannabis treatment as it is possible that it and the existing medications you are taking may have drug interactions or you may experience side effects. In addition, the long-term effects of cannabis or CBD are unknown in children, pregnant women, and the elderly population.
Cannabis may help improve your quality of life and reduce opiate use over time (3)(11).
Understanding the Locations of Spinal Stenosis
Stenosis or narrowing of the spinal column can occur anywhere along the spine. It is most often seen in the neck, or the cervical area of the spine, and the lower back, or the lumbar portion of the spine. It is also possible to get thoracic stenosis which is characterized by tingling or weakness at or below the abdomen (10). It can be mistaken for other conditions such as herniated disc or intervertebral disc disease.
When spinal stenosis is in the vertebrae of the neck it is called cervical spinal stenosis. It is characterized by neck pain and possible balance problems. In addition, many patients experience issues with their arms or legs which include numbness and tingling sensations, muscle weakness, and loss of function in the hands. In extreme cases, patients can lose bladder or bowel control, which is considered a serious medical emergency (10).
Lumbar spinal stenosis occurs when the spinal column is narrowing in the lower back or the lumbar region of vertebrae. It is the most common type of spinal stenosis that patients experience. Besides the typical symptoms of lower back pain, patients can experience numbness or tingling in the legs or buttocks as well as sciatica (10). The pain and heaviness in the legs typically worsen when standing for long periods of time.
Many patients feel pain relief when they are bending slightly forward while sitting or walking (10). Severe cases can also cause bladder and bowel control issues like cervical spinal stenosis.
Causes of Spinal Stenosis
There are several causes of spinal stenosis. One factor of getting spinal stenosis is being over the age of 50. Other causes include (10):
- Bone overgrowth or bone spurs
- Bulging or herniated spinal disks
- Thickened spinal ligaments
- Spinal fractures spinal injuries
- Spinal cord cysts or tumors
- Congenital spinal stenosis
Note: Veriheal does not intend to give this as professional medical advice. Do not attempt to self-diagnose, or prescribe treatment based on the information provided on this page. Always consult a physician before making any decision on the treatment of a medical condition.
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Things to Know About CBD & Spinal Stenosis (Spinal Injury)
Proponents of CBD suggest that it is anti-inflammatory. As a result, it could provide an alternative method of managing symptoms of spinal injury. The spinal stenosis condition, in particular, is a spine issue associated with high inflammation levels.
Patients with spinal stenosis often rely on powerful pharmaceutical medication. However, a growing number of people want to try something else. Is CBD a viable option for people with spinal stenosis? Read this article to find out.
What Is Spinal Stenosis?
It is a narrowing of the spaces within the spine, also known as the foramina. This process reduces the space for the nerves to travel. It can happen within the intervertebral foramina or the spinal canal.
A spinal nerve or spinal cord may become compressed and cause numbness, tingling, weakness, or pain. The symptoms depend on the level of narrowing over time and the location of the issue.
What Are the Types of Spinal Stenosis?
There are two spinal stenosis types. The classification depends on the location of the condition on the spine. It is also possible to have more than a single form of spinal stenosis.
This happens when the narrowing occurs in the part of the spine in the neck. If a person has spinal stenosis, their spinal cord has less space to travel and may become compressed. This condition could result in dysfunction and pain anywhere in the body beneath the compression.
- Neck pain
- Problems with balance and walking
- Weakness and/or tingling in a foot, leg, arm, or hand
- Bladder or bowel dysfunction in severe cases
A patient has lumbar stenosis when the narrowing happens in the lower back part of the spine. Also called foraminal stenosis, this is the most common type of spinal stenosis.
- Back pain
- Weakness, tingling, numbness in a foot or leg
- Pain or cramping in one or both legs when walking or after a long period of standing up
What Causes Spinal Stenosis?
The spine runs from the neck to the lower back. Its bones form a spinal canal, which keeps the spinal cord protected. In some cases, an individual is born with a small spinal canal, which may increase the risk of spinal stenosis. However, in general, most cases happen when an issue narrows the open space in the spine. Here are a few possible causes of spinal stenosis:
- Spinal Injuries: Trauma from a car accident or another incident could result in a fracture or dislocation of vertebrae. In people with a spinal fracture, the displaced bone could damage the spinal canal’s contents.
- Bone Overgrowth: Patients with osteoarthritis or Paget’s disease could develop an overgrowth of bone. This process could cause bone spurs to develop and grow into the spinal canal.
- Tumors: An abnormal growth can form inside the spinal cord. These could cover the space between the vertebrae and spinal cord.
- Herniated Disks: Cracks in the disks between your vertebrae could result in soft inner material escaping. It could press on the spinal cord or the nerves.
- Age: The majority of people with the condition are aged 50+.
These strains could offer some…
Traditional Spinal Stenosis Treatments
A doctor may confirm a spinal stenosis diagnosis via tests such as an X-ray, MRI scan, or CT myelogram.
Treatment for the condition depends on the severity of symptoms and the location of the stenosis. A physician may offer painkilling medication, including:
such as oxycodone or hydrocodone.
- Anti-seizure drugs like pregabalin or gabapentin.
- Pain relievers such as ibuprofen or naproxen.
- Tricyclic antidepressants such as amitriptyline.
It is common for patients with spinal stenosis to become less physically active due to the pain felt when moving. However, this practice will only increase the rate of muscle weakness. Therefore, individuals with the condition often embark on physical therapy. The goals of such sessions include an improvement in balance and better strength and endurance.
Here are other possible spinal stenosis treatments:
- Steroid Injections: A corticosteroid could reduce inflammation at the site of the stenosis and dull pain. Patients can only receive a handful of injections annually as frequent use might weaken bones and connective tissues.
- Decompression: Patients with lumbar spinal stenosis can opt for this procedure. It involves removing thickened ligaments from the back of the spinal column. The process is called image-guided lumbar decompression and takes place without general anesthesia.
- Surgery: This aims to relieve pressure on the spinal cord or nerve roots. It achieves this through the creation of more space in the spinal canal. Surgical options include a laminectomy, laminotomy, or a laminoplasty.
There are also ongoing clinical trials. They involve using stem cells to treat degenerative spinal disease. Researchers are also performing genomic medicine trials.
However, these advances are possibly years away while CBD oil is available right now. Is CBD oil useful for spinal stenosis?
CBD for Spinal Stenosis – Can It Help?
There is a suggestion that CBD oil could help ease many spinal stenosis symptoms. A study published in the Journal of Pain Research in 2018 made an interesting discovery. It looked at cannabinoids and spinal cord stimulation for treating pain from failed back surgery.
The Italian study focused on 11 patients diagnosed with neuropathic pain after their surgery. All participants discontinued other treatments at least two months before the beginning of the study. They received a fixed dose of THC/CBD, which they could increase depending on their response. Ultimately, the patients reported effective pain management when compared to the baseline.
A study published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology in 2011 looked at CBD’s effect on social anxiety disorder. It found that patients with a social anxiety disorder (SAD) who used a large CBD dose reported significant improvements. This is important because anxiety is often associated with chronic back pain.
A study published in The Permanente Journal in 2019 analyzed the effect of CBD on anxiety and sleep. The final sample involved 72 adults, 47 of whom had anxiety as their primary concern. The other 25 volunteers said that lack of sleep was their main issue.
Almost 80% of patients reported reduced levels of anxiety in the first month. Sleep scores improved in over 66% of cases. Individuals living with spinal stenosis often have problems with insomnia. They also find it hard to relax due to the pain. CBD’s ability to help people relax may reduce anxiety and improve the quantity and quality of sleep.
CBD & Spinal Stenosis – Further Research
One of the main facets of spinal stenosis is inflammation, which causes pain. CBD interacts with a network of receptors called the endocannabinoid system (ECS) in the body. These receptors, mainly CB1 and CB2, play a significant part in regulating the nervous system and brain function.
When CBD interacts with these receptors, it could block the transmission of chemical messages that cause inflammation and pain. One crucial way that CBD works against inflammation is by binding with TRPV1 cells. These cells help regulate temperature and control inflammation in specific parts of the human body.
A study published in Pharmaceuticals in 2012 looked at the role of TRPV1 cells on autoimmune diseases and inflammation. It found a strong link between the two. This gives credence to the belief that CBD’s impact on TRPV1 cells helps reduce inflammation.
Weighing in on CBD cream as a …
Neuropathic pain is yet another symptom associated with spinal stenosis. A study published in Current Pharmaceutical Biotechnology in 2020 looked at the effectiveness of topical CBD on symptomatic relief of peripheral neuropathy. The patients in the study had pain in their lower extremities.
According to the results, those who used the CBD product reported statistically significant reductions in sharp and intense pain. They also experienced a reduction in cold and itchy sensations.
The research to date, which has focused on CBD for inflammation and pain, found that topical application is arguably the most effective. Patients looking to use CBD for spinal stenosis should consider buying creams, salves, ointments, or lotions.
Final Thoughts on CBD for Spinal Stenosis
The level of research into CBD’s effects on spinal injuries is growing rapidly. Evidence to date suggests that the cannabinoid could help relieve several symptoms of spinal stenosis. These include inflammation, neuropathic pain, anxiety, and loss of sleep.
CBD is potentially useful for patients with either type of spinal stenosis. Research so far also suggests that patients are best served using a CBD topical product. Apply it directly to the site of the stenosis and rub it into the skin.