Cannabis for degenerative disc disease and spinal issues
Degenerative disc disease refers to the changes that occur in your spinal discs as a result of aging. Spinal discs are soft in nature; they are compressible and separate the vertebrae that comprise the spine. It’s important that our discs are in good health because they also act as the spine’s shock absorbers and help it flex, twist, and bend; actions that we need to carry out basic tasks in our everyday lives.
Degenerative disc disease can happen anywhere in the spin although it’s most common for it to occur in the neck or lower back. Changes in the disc can happen due to a variety of factors such as inflammation, decrease in available oxygen, osteoporosis, spinal stenosis, or herniated disc. Those who experience trauma from a fall, smoke cigarettes, perform manual labor, and are obese are also at higher risk for developing degenerative disc disease.
The symptoms of degenerative disc disease is usually back or neck pain although it will vary depending on the case. Some people experience no pain at all, while others who have the same amount of disc damage suffer from pain so debilitating that they can’t engage in any physical activity whatsoever. Pain can occur after a person experiences a major or minor injury, after doing a normal action such as bending down to pick up something, or it can just begin gradually and exacerbate over time.
Treatment to address the pain caused by degenerative disc disease is usually prescription painkillers, opioids, ibuprofen, and the like. However, these kinds of drugs can have serious side effects and can also be addicting.
How Can Cannabis Help?
A controlled animal study conducted in 2014 showed that when CBD (cannabidiol) was administered, it showed promising results in reducing the damage caused by disc degeneration in the vertebrae. The researchers analyzed 19 rats and used needle punctures to “injure” the intervertebral discs of their spines, particularly in the tailbone area. The rats were divided into 3 groups, each of which were administered with CBD in different concentrations (30, 60, and 120 nmol). The researchers then examined the discs using MRI and under a microscope.
The MRI analysis revealed that the rats who were given 30 and 60 nmol CBD didn’t exhibit much improvement although those who were given 120 nmol suffered less damage. Improvements were observed within 2 days of treatment.
The researchers also noted, “Considering that cannabidiol presents an extremely safe profile and is currently being used clinically, these results suggest that this compound could be useful in the treatment of intervertebral disc degeneration… Although further research is necessary to clarify the mechanisms involved in CBD effects, the present results suggest the possibility of its use for disc degeneration treatment.”
Most of the pain experienced by patients with degenerative disc disease is actually caused by inflammation. We also already know that cannabis is an excellent natural medicine to address chronic pain caused by a wide range of conditions, so it’s not surprising that those who suffer from degenerative disc disease are able to find relief after using the plant.