Can You Treat Back Pain With Cannabis Topicals?

Is it possible to treat back pain with cannabis topicals?
Can You Treat Back Pain With Cannabis Topicals?

There are several articles and products online that claim you can treat back pain with cannabis topicals. We’re here to make the capabilities of cannabis topicals clear as distillate. That way you can purchase the right cannabis products for your specific needs on the first try. We’ll get to the bottom of the question “can you treat back pain with cannabis topicals?”

What Are Cannabis Topicals Used For?

Some people believe cannabis topicals can be used for treating aches and pains. However, this wasn’t the original purpose of cannabis topicals. Most people use cannabis topicals to relieve localized pain or to treat dermatological conditions like eczema.

Rick Simpson claims to have made Rick Simpson Oil and used it as a topical to treat his skin cancer. He was motivated to try cannabis after hearing about a study on the antineoplastic activity of cannabinoids that was able to stunt tumor growth in mice. There is also research on cannabinoids inhibiting cellular respiration of human oral cancer cells.

What The Experts Have To Say

Since there isn’t much research on cannabis topicals for aches and pains we turned to experts for answers. Dr. Jordan Tishler MD is a Harvard graduate, the CEO of InhaleMD, a member of the Massachusetts Patient Advocacy Alliance and CannaKorp boards.

He sees patients on a regular basis and has practiced as an Emergency Physician. During that time his observation that cannabis never caused an overdose sparked his interest in the safety and uses of cannabis in treatment.

Dr. Tishler regularly speaks on topics related to the medical applications of cannabis so we asked him a few questions about topicals.

There are people and articles online recommending cannabis use for aches and pains. How far will the pain relieving abilities of cannabis topicals reach?

There is definitive evidence that cannabinoids do not penetrate the skin.  So it’s reasonable and there are studies to back using cannabis topicals for dermatologic issues like eczema.  There is no reason to believe that topicals can be used for aches or any other sort of pain.
Science is complicated and expensive to do.  This is because controlling the experiment is difficult and large numbers of subjects are needed.  The placebo effect is very real and hard to avoid without really careful study design.  This is why there are so many reporting benefits where there is no physiologic basis.

Are transdermal patches more effective for treating issues such as back pain?

Transdermal patches are complicated. Most medications do not readily cross the skin, just like cannabinoids. Pharmaceutical companies have developed methods to force these medications to penetrate, but those methods often lead to complications like rashes or skin hypersensitivity (pain).

Further, I question why we’d want to pursue patches considering the potential complications and the ready availability of methods that do not have these problems, like inhaled or oral.

So is it better to eat or inhale cannabis when seeking pain-relief?

This depends on the nature of the pain. For any pain that is episodic in nature, like a backache or a headache, inhaling is usually better. It’s quicker to work and also wears off after a moderate time so you can get back to whatever you have to do.

Orals have long and unpredictable time to onset so they make a lousy choice for acute needs. However, they have a longer duration of action. For patients who have constant, unremitting pain, they are best used by the clock to achieve a steady, baseline pain control. I always ask: if you were buzzed all the time, would you be better or worse off than you are with your pain now?

Final Hit: Can You Treat Back Pain With Cannabis Topicals?

Can You Treat Back Pain With Cannabis Topicals?

So topicals may have their uses for patients suffering from skin conditions like eczema but according to experts, there is no reason to believe that you can treat back pain with cannabis topicals.

Transdermal patches may offer a way to help the medicine penetrate the skin. In fact, research has shown transdermal cannabidiol reduced inflammation beyond the skin but the study was on rats. The limited research illustrates it has yet to achieve its full potential as an alternative to oral delivery. Transdermal patches are best for people that absolutely want to avoid smoking, eating or vaporizing cannabis at all costs.

Inhaling is one of the best methods for treating pain. Unrelenting chronic pain could be better treated by consuming edibles which will have effects that last longer than they would if you vaped or smoked cannabis instead.

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