A herniated or slipped disc is the result of a disc moving out of place and applying pressure on nearby nerves or nerve roots. This is a very common problem because this injury often occurs during a variety of everyday events. Engaging in repetitive movements, improper lifting, or even carrying around excess abdominal weight can all result in a lumbar herniated disc.
In addition, as time goes by, we become much more susceptible to disc-related injuries. Our discs begin to break down, dry out, and tear. Furthermore, certain genetic factors may also make a person more susceptible to disc degeneration and a resulting herniated disc.
In the body, you have two sciatic nerves. These are the largest nerves in your entire body. They originate in the spine and extend all the way down the leg to the foot. You might already see where this is going. Herniated discs may put pressure on adjacent nerves, leading to neurological symptoms and pain. In the lumbar spine, the sciatic nerve just happens to be an adjacent nerve. So, when a herniated disc occurs at this point on the spine, it may lead to sciatica.
Lumbar Herniated Disc & Sciatica Symptoms
It is not uncommon for a herniated lumbar disc to put stress upon or inflame nearby nerves, leading to pain radiating along the length of the nerve. In fact, the most common cause of sciatica is a lumbar herniated disc.
These are some general characteristics of how a lumbar herniated disc may feel:
- Leg Pain: The leg pain associated with sciatica and lumbar herniated discs is much worse than the accompanying lower back pain. If the pain radiates along the sciatic nerve, then doctors call this condition sciatica.
- Variable List of Symptoms: A lot of factors determine the symptoms associated with both lumbar herniated discs and sciatica. This list includes the severity of the herniation, as well as other symptoms present in the back, buttock front/back of the thigh, calves, foot, and toes. Typically, however, the symptoms just affect one side of the body.
- Nerve Pain: Nerve pain from both conditions is very noticeable. Patients describe this kind of pain as searing, sharp, radiating, or piercing.
- Foot Drop: Foot drop is a condition that occurs when the patient has difficulty lifting the foot when walking, or perhaps when they stand on the ball of their foot. This is a neurological symptom that may occur with either condition.
- Neurological Symptoms: “Pins-and-needles” sensations, weakness, and tingling are all associated with both conditions.
- Quick Onset: Symptoms of lumbar herniated discs usually have a quick onset, but there are some cases in which symptoms develop gradually.
- Movement Pain:Sitting, standing, leaning forward, coughing, sitting for prolonged periods of time. All of these become painful with sciatica and lumbar herniated discs.
- Lower Back Pain:Lower back pain is sometimes present, but not with all cases. Aside from lower back pain, both conditions may result in stiffness, muscle spasms, and throbbing.
Rarer Symptoms of Sciatica & Lower Herniated Discs
Loss of bladder/bowel control, numbness in the saddle region, lower back pain, and weakness in the extremities are all signs of a condition known as cauda equina syndrome. This syndrome is quite rare, but if you believe you have it then you should seek medical attention immediately.
The stress and swelling of the nerves at the end of the spine may lead to paralysis and other lifelong impairments if you do not seek treatment immediately. Always, always seek out medical attention promptly if you believe you have cauda equina syndrome.
Causes & Risk Factors of Lumbar Herniated Discs with Sciatica
Lumbar herniated disc and sciatic pain may have a sudden onset, but usually, the condition comes on more gradually. Spinal discs have high water content, which helps these discs stay flexible to absorb the daily shock that the spine undergoes. Over time, these structures dry out, which leaves the disc’s tough outer shell more brittle and susceptible to cracking or tearing.
Less common causes of herniated discs include traumatic injuries, which could involve anything from a car accident to a fall. An injury may put so much pressure on the discs in the lower back that they herniate.
Here are some common risk factors for developing sciatica and lumbar herniated discs:
- Gender: Men are at twice the risk for developing lumbar herniated discs, which also increases their chance of developing sciatica that much more.
- Age: The most common age group for developing lumbar herniated discs is ages 35-50. After age 80, the condition usually does not cause symptoms.
- Physically demanding or repetitive work: Jobs that require heavy lifting or other such physical labor will put patients at a greater risk of developing lumbar herniated discs, and thereby sciatica. This is especially true for twisting actions.
- Obesity: When the spine has to support more weight, it is put under more stress. This only makes sense. Obese patients are 12 times more likely to have the same disc herniate twice. Doctors call this phenomenon recurrent disc herniation.
- Family History: People with a family history of disc herniation are much more likely to have their discs herniate than others.
- Smoking: Nicotine limits the blood flow to the discs, which exacerbates disc herniation and dampens healing. Degenerated discs are much more likely to tear and crack, leading to herniation.
Lumbar Disc Herniation & Sciatica Treatment
Most doctors will exhaust conservative options before considering surgery. Most cases of lumbar disc herniation resolve themselves within six weeks, so doctors urge patients to try more conservative options first. This does not work for everyone, however.
Here is a list of conservative options that many patients use to achieve herniated disc relief:
- Medications: Usually consists of muscle relaxants and NSAIDs. This is also great for sciatica patients.
- Ice Application: Good for initial inflammation and muscle spasms that occur with lumbar herniated discs. This will also help with muscle spasms associated with sciatica.
- Heat Therapy: After the first 48 hours, heat may also help reduce muscle spasms that occur with both conditions.
- Physical Therapy: Certain stretching exercises are great for treating both conditions. Your doctor will be able to give you information pertaining to your specific needs.
- Epidural Injections: In cases where normal medications are not enough, your doctor may recommend steroid injections. The effects of this treatment, however, vary.
Two minimally invasive procedures are typically used for sciatica and lumbar herniated discs. Most commonly, this includes a microdiscectomy or an endoscopic microdiscectomy. These procedures relieve the pressure on the nerve root and allow for a better healing environment.
Typically, the doctor removes only a small portion of the disc that is pressing against the nerve. The majority of the disc is left alone, structurally speaking. The doctor will use small incisions in a microdiscectomy.
For an endoscopic microdiscectomy, the doctor also uses endoscopic guidance. That really is the main difference. The doctor inserts the implements through a tiny tube to minimize damage to surrounding tissues. A small camera is also inserted through the tube to allow guidance for the performing surgeon.
Both surgeries are minimally invasive and performed on an outpatient basis.
If you are experiencing symptoms of either lumbar disc herniation or sciatica, please contact our spine doctors at (855) 853-6542. Our team is passionate about finding an individualized care plan that will work for you. Contact us today!
Brachial Neuritis (BN) is a neuropathic condition (otherwise known as Parsonage-Turner syndrome or neuralgic amyotrophy) that affects nerves in the chest, shoulders, arms, and hands. This condition causes pain and loss of functionality in the nerves that act as messengers between the brain/spinal cord and the rest of the body. These nerves that run along the spinal cord, neck, and shoulders are what medical experts call the brachial plexus.
BN typically leads to terrible pain in the shoulders. After this episode expires, movement limitation then follows the extreme pain. BN is a rare disorder with a very quick onset and usually is at its worst during the night time.
There are two main types of BN: idiopathic and inherited. Idiopathic means that the cause of the condition is largely unknown, while inherited BN is passed down amongst family members. The former is much more common than the latter. Usually, the condition is the result of the patient’s immune system attacking the body’s nerves. Presently, medical experts do not exactly know how the nerve damage occurs in either idiopathic or inherited BN, but great strides in research are always being made.
Causes of Brachial Neuritis
It is not uncommon for BN to be the result of some sort of injury or trauma. Some injuries from contact sports, such as football or hockey, cause temporary weakness in the shoulder, as well as numbness and pain. More serious injuries from major trauma, such as a car accident or a harsh fall, lead to the same symptoms although their manifestation is much more persistent.
As stated previously, BN has to main causes: the patient either inherits it or the condition is idiopathic. The former is nowhere near as common as the idiopathic manifestation of the condition. As the name suggests, with inherited BN the parents of the patient pass down the ailment to their child. Idiopathic forms of BN are instead just forms of the condition where the cause is unknown. This version of BN is much more common than the inherited form.
A lot of the patients who have a sudden onset of BN have a few things in common. For one, many of them may say that they have just gotten over some other illness, disease, or germ. Others may say that they have just recently undergone some sort of test or treatment. This includes things such as spinal taps, injections, or other tests that utilize dyes. In addition to these treatments, some patients have a sudden onset of BN after receiving radiation treatment or surgery.
Symptoms of Brachial Neuritis
The condition almost always starts off with some level of pain, ultimately leading into periods of muscle weakness and lost functionality. The severity and persistence of these symptoms will depend on which phase of the condition the patient is going through, as well as the specifics of their case. While symptoms vary from person to person, a general list is as follows:
- Sudden onset of extreme shoulder pain (typically the right shoulder). Many patients describe this type of pain as an intense stabbing or burning.
- Symptoms of pain exacerbate when the patient attempts to move the affected shoulder.
- Only the most powerful painkillers have any effect on treating the pain, with it still remaining constant for long periods of time.
- Many patients describe a loss of function or temporary paralysis in the shoulder muscles after a painful episode.
- Loss of muscle mass in the affected shoulder (atrophy).
- Multiple areas of numbness develop in different areas of the arm and/or shoulder.
- Sometimes BN affects the diaphragmatic nerves, which may result in shortness of breath.
Again, these are just to name a few general symptoms of the condition. It will always depend on the severity of your case, as well as your individual chemical composition. For more information, you should always communicate thoroughly with your doctor and remember to always ask questions.
How Do Doctors Diagnose Brachial Neuritis?
A fair question–after all the most common of the two types of this condition is the idiopathic form (meaning unknown cause). Of course, knowing the cause of a condition and being able to identify that a patient has BN are two totally different things.
To begin, your doctor will ask you questions regarding the nature of your condition and will perform an examination to look for areas that cause pain. If your doctor suspects BN early on, they will almost immediately test your shoulder functionality and muscle strength. In many people, it will be apparent which shoulder to examine first, as the affected shoulder often sticks out more than normally. During this time, your doctor will likely test your reflexes for anything unusual.
Once your doctor has laid down some groundwork, he or she will likely order imaging tests such as MRIs, CT scans, or X-rays. In some cases, your doctor may order electrical tests (such as electromyography or nerve conduction study) that show if individual nerves are performing as they normally should. Additionally, if your doctor suspects any other underlying medical conditions, he or she may order blood tests to check for those as well.
Brachial Neuritis Treatments
Most often, doctors treat BN with a multifaceted approach involving medication and physical therapy. That being said, there are some instances where a doctor may feel it is necessary for the patient to have surgery. These cases, however, are few and far inbetween.
To begin, your doctor will prescribe you with some form of pain medication. Pain is the most immediate symptom, so doctors often address this first before anything else. Once the pain situation is brought down to manageable levels, your doctor will then began treatment to eliminate paralysis of the arm and regain functionality. In order for this to happen, your doctor will most likely set you up on a rehabilitative physical therapy program that may last up to eight weeks. The length of this program, as well as the nature of the exercises, will entirely depend on the needs of your case. Don’t worry too much though, as your doctor will set you up with a physical therapist to make this process very manageable.
Unfortunately, sometimes conservative treatments simply are not enough to get the job done. In such instances, your doctor may put you on the path of surgery. Usually, this only happens after two years of consistent failure from more conservative methods. Of course, you may be able to truncate this time period if you opt in for surgery earlier. For this, however, you will need to have an extensive conversation with your doctor.
Surgical treatment for BN usually involves repairing nerves via grafts from normally functioning nerves elsewhere in the body. If successful, this procedure will return function to the muscles affected by BN. Of course, surgical treatments do not just begin and end with grafts. It is also possible to perform tendon transfers if your doctor deems it necessary to restore function.
Do you have extreme shoulder pain that simply doesn’t fade no matter what you try to do about it? If so, you may want to give us a call at (855)-853-6542. Our spine doctors at the Orthopedic Laser and Spine Surgery will work tirelessly to find the treatment plan that is perfect for the needs of your case. When you come to our clinics, you will meet a team of caring people dedicated to your recovery. Contact us today.
Back and joint pain can prevent you from enjoying life. In fact, just about every movement you make can become painful if you suffer from either one of these conditions. Chronic back pain affects your ability to work, participate in hobbies, and share important moments with family and friends. If you’ve tried conservative treatments without success…. Then, you’re probably desperate for the right answer. And, while surgery may be an option for you, you may also be leery of “going under the knife.”
Alternative therapies are available for those who wish to avoid surgery. Instead, prolotherapy uses the body’s natural healing response to treat a variety of painful orthopedic conditions. While prolotherapy has its roots in ancient Egyptian times, it’s modern-day origins can be traced to the early 20th century. Can this treatment help you? Use this guide to understand prolotherapy and how it can relieve your pain.
What is Prolotherapy?
Prolotherapy uses injections to activate healing in the soft tissues of an affected joint. These tissues can include ligaments, muscles, tendons, or fascia. As a result, this triggers the body’s natural abilities to promote the growth of normal cells and tissues. Sometimes known as sclerotherapy or regenerative injection therapy, this treatment has shown promising results in treating back and joint pain. Studies are limited, however, and more widespread research is needed to determine overall success rates.
During prolotherapy, a trained physician or orthopedic doctor uses a series of injections over the course of 3 to 6 months. Generally, treatments take place every couple of weeks. Most injections contain a natural irritant—usually dextrose or glucose. In some cases, sodium morrhuate (a derivative of cod liver oil) may be used.
These injections activate special proteins in the body known as growth factors. Over time, these factors strengthen the affected soft tissues, helping to stabilize the joint.
What Conditions Does Prolotherapy Help?
Prolotherapy can be used to treat a variety of back and joint issues. While some evidence is anecdotal, a growing number of individuals who deal with joint pain swear by this treatment. Here are some conditions that doctors use prolotherapy to treat:
- Degenerative Disc Disease:As we age, the discs protecting our spine tend to dry out and lose shape. This creates an instability in the spine that often leads to back pain and nerve damage.
- Hip Arthritis or SI Joint Dysfunction: Issues with inflammation of the hip joints and improper movement of the lower spine can result in pain in the legs and lower back.
- Spinal Arthritis: Arthritis involves the breakdown of cartilage in the joints and discs of the spine. This usually occurs in the neck or lower back.
- Sciatica: Pain radiating from the lower back to one or both legs, caused by pressure on the sciatic nerve.
- Ligament and Tendon Tears: Trauma, falls, and other injuries can cause pain and inflammation to the body’s connective tissues.
- Shoulder Instability: If you‘ve suffered a shoulder dislocation because of repeated use or sudden injury, then it is more likely to pop out again without treatment.
Who is a Good Candidate for Prolotherapy?
While prolotherapy is helpful for some individuals, others may not benefit from this type of treatment. Talking to your doctor or spine surgeon can help you make an educated decision about pursuing prolotherapy.
Typically, those who would benefit from prolotherapy:
- Have had back or joint pain, especially resulting from an injury to ligaments or tendons, for over six weeks.
- Use medications for back and joint pain management.
- Experience more joint pain during physical activities and less while resting.
- Haven’t achieved long-term relief from physical therapy or other manual therapies.
Types of Prolotherapy
There are three types of prolotherapy in common use today. These include:
- Growth Factor Injection Prolotherapy: Injecting a complex protein into a joint to activate the growth of certain cells. This may help to alleviate pain from arthritis and muscle sprains or strains.
- Growth Factor Stimulation Prolotherapy: Instead of using complex proteins, this type of injection uses a non-inflammatory injection of dextrose—less than 10% of the injection solution. This encourages the body to produce growth factors on its own.
- Inflammatory Prolotherapy: A higher concentration of dextrose (up to 25%) may be used to stimulate temporary inflammation to the affected area. This triggers a more vigorous growth response in the body.
What to Expect During a Prolotherapy Treatment
Before receiving any type of injection, your doctor will make sure your back and joint pain is properly diagnosed. This involves obtaining a full medical history, discussing the onset and severity of symptoms, and receiving a physical examination. In addition, your doctor may order X-rays and other diagnostic imaging to obtain a clearer picture of the affected area. Since prolotherapy may not benefit everyone, it is crucial to know the exact cause of your pain.
After the examination, your doctor will discuss treatment options, benefits, and side effects of prolotherapy. If it is advised, then you should stop taking any anti-inflammatory medications a couple days before the procedure. Unlike some procedures, your doctor may also ask you to eat a protein-rich meal prior to the injection.
During a prolotherapy treatment, a doctor uses local anesthesia, such as lidocaine or procaine, to numb the area. Then the doctor uses a long, thin needle to deliver the injections around the damaged area. The number of injections will depend on your specific condition.
After the injections, you may experience side effects for up to three days after the procedure. This includes stiffness, pain, and swelling. Pain medications can help during this interval. Be sure not to use aspirin or an anti-inflammatory medication. These types of drugs may make the injections less effective. In addition, icing the area and mild exercise can be beneficial to achieving relief. Physical therapy is also often required to restore function to the affected area.
Other Therapies That May Be Helpful for Treating Pain
- Platelet Rich Plasma Therapy (PRP): News reports of famous athletes using PRP gave this therapy national attention. Your platelets, cell fragments in the blood, contain hundreds of growth factors that help to heal injuries. By injecting a high concentration of platelets into an affected area, it stimulates the body’s natural healing process.
- Stem Cell Therapy: Stem cells have the ability to build and rebuild every tissue in the body. Think of these as “wild card” cells. They can divide continuously to make whatever the body needs for healthy regeneration of an injured area. Implanting these cells back into the body can potentially address a variety of injuries, diseases, and disorders.
Are You Ready to Get Help with Your Back and Joint Pain?
If you tried other conservative treatments and still haven’t found success, Orthopedic & Laser Spine Surgery is ready to help you. We take the time to listen to your story, symptoms, and goals for treatment. After pinpointing the source of your pain, we discuss the most appropriate options for your condition.
At Orthopedic & Laser Spine Surgery, our back doctors use the latest technology and research to help you achieve a pain-free life. This includes alternative treatments like prolotherapy, stem cell therapy, and platelet-rich plasma therapy. In addition, we specialize in minimally invasive procedures for a variety of spine and orthopedic issues.
With access to so many treatments, you may finally be able to find the answer to a pain-free life. Don’t suffer any longer. Calling (855) 853-6542 will put you in touch with a dedicated team who is devoted to your recovery.
Everything we do—laying, sitting, walking, and more—depends on our spine working properly. Unfortunately, we don’t tend to think of our spine or back unless we start to feel pain. Back pain is a condition that up to 80% of the population will suffer at some point in their lives. It is the most common reason for lost work days, disability claims, and missing out on the things we love to do. Back pain can range from dull and nagging to agonizing or debilitating.
What exactly causes back pain? The key to understanding back pain is taking a closer look at the spine, nervous system, and other tissues that help to manage our movement.
Understanding the Spine & Back
The anatomy of the spine is complex. A series of bones, muscles, and connective tissues work together to help it function. The key role of the spine is to protect the spinal cord and nerve roots so they can safely relay messages to and from the brain. Without these messages, you wouldn’t be able to survive.
In addition, your spine enables movement and assists with activities such as weight-bearing, shock absorption, and posture. Most adults have 33 vertebrae which divide the spine into five areas:
- Cervical Spine: 7 vertebrae in the neck region
- Thoracic Spine: 12 vertebrae in the upper back
- Lumbar Spine: 5 vertebrae in the lower back
- Sacral Region: 4 vertebrae near the tailbone.
The lower areas of the spine bear more of the body’s weight to support movement and other daily activities. The cervical and lumbar spine enable the most movement, and, as a result, are the most prone to injuries.
Each vertebra has a rounded bone at the front of the spine called the vertebral body. A ring formed by two bones attaches to the back of the vertebral body. Inside of this ring resides the spinal cord—the nervous system’s “superhighway” that sends and receives messages between the body and the brain. The back of the spine also has other canals that allow nerves to extend from the spinal cord throughout the body.
In addition, our vertebrae are connected by joints. Many of these joints are known as synovial joints—the most flexible joints in our body. Without these joints, our bones would not have any movement. Furthermore, flexible, fibrous tissue, known as ligaments, connect the bones to each other.
Of course, another key component to movement is muscles. These fibrous tissues connect to the spine with the help of tendons. Muscles contract and expand, with the help of nerves, to move our bones.
Spinal Discs: The Spine’s Built-in Shock Absorbers
Intervertebral discs are important structures that deserve their own section. If you’ve ever had a bulging or herniated disc, you know firsthand the kind of pain that these little cushions can cause.
Intervertebral discs are tough ligaments between each vertebra that connect the spine, allow for flexibility, and absorb shock as the body moves. In addition, cartilage, a glossy lubricating tissue, covers the ends of bones at the joint to facilitate motion and minimize friction.
Degenerative Disc Disease occurs when these discs break down from years of overuse or the natural consequences of aging. In fact, one of the most common causes of back pain in individuals over age 45 can be attributed to Degenerative Disc Disease.
How Does Each of These Components Contribute To Back Pain?
There are many reasons why you may experience back pain. In some cases, a simple strain to a back muscle can cause discomfort. Many people find that injury or changes to spinal structure often set off a chain reaction that can affect others areas. Let’s look at how the different components of the spine can cause you discomfort.
Muscle & Soft Tissue Disorders
As you know, tendons connect muscles to vertebrae. These muscles support the spine and make the trunk of the body bend, twist, and perform other daily functions. Many people who suffer from back pain have hidden damage to their muscles and tendons. This can be due to stress on these soft tissues from improper lifting, obesity, poor posture, or trauma to the area. A muscle strain occurs when lower back muscles are overused or stretched too far. Ligaments, the tissue connecting bones, can also suffer damage, leading to pain and limited mobility.
In addition, when people suffer from back pain, they try their hardest not to move in ways that cause them even more pain. This can cause muscle weakness and a reduction in flexibility, which often leads to even more issues down the road.
Sometimes the origins of your back pain don’t even start with your spine. For example, people with tight hamstrings (the muscles at the back of your thigh) can develop lower back pain as a result.
Spine Conditions Caused By Intervertebral Discs
As we age, the discs separating our vertebrae tend to dry out and lose shape. Commonly known as degenerative disc disease, this causes structural changes in the spine and can lead to a pinched nerve.
In addition, a ruptured disc occurs when the gel-like center of a disc breaks through the outer fibrous ring. Sports and work-related injuries, falls, and accidents commonly lead to this type of condition. In most cases, people develop ruptured discs in the lower back. Ruptured discs can, however, occur anywhere in the spine, from the neck all the way down to the lumbar region.
Vertebral Fractures & Diseases
A spinal vertebra is not a single bone but a series of small bones connected by joints and soft tissues. There are structures in place, like the discs, to help protect the spine and absorb the shocks of everyday movement. Unfortunately, the vertebrae are not immune to injury. Osteoporosis, or weakened bones, can lead to compression fractures of the vertebrae. In addition, a vertebral fracture may occur following a bad fall, accident, or sports injury.
Likewise, if the joints at the back of the spine, known as facet joints, become injured, it can trigger muscle spasms and apply pressure to nerves.
Spinal Cord & Nerve Dysfunction
The spinal column houses the spinal cord and contains openings to allow nerves to reach every area of the body. Changes in the vertebrae, joints, and discs can cause narrowing of the spinal canal, known as spinal stenosis. This condition can be extremely painful and even lead to more serious conditions like muscle weakness or paralysis.
Since the nerves are connected to other areas of the body, your pain isn’t limited to the back. Radiculitis, or pain that starts at one area and radiates to other parts of the body, is a common symptom when nerves are compressed. For example, sciatica is a condition that occurs when the sciatic nerve is compressed. A patient who suffers from sciatica often feels lower back pain that radiates to the back of the thigh and leg.
Diagnosing & Treating Your Lower Back Pain
As you can see, the cause of your back pain may not be a simple answer. Some people experience back pain for a short period of time. Others develop chronic, painful conditions that limit their activities and quality of life.
If conservative treatments like rest or over-the-counter medications aren’t helping with your back pain, it’s time to get the guidance you need from an orthopedic doctor. Since many back pain conditions have a similar set of symptoms, receiving a proper diagnosis is key to finding the best treatments for you. Be wary of a doctor who listens to your complaints about back pain and sends you off with only pain medications. While these can provide temporary relief, they may not treat the underlying problem.
An orthopedic doctor will review your medical history, symptoms, and everyday activities. The doctor also performs a thorough physical examination and may request diagnostic imaging tests depending on your situation. This information will help your doctor determine the most appropriate treatments for you.
Finding Solutions for Your Neck & Back Pain Now
If you’ve been struggling with back pain, then you’ll want to find the best way to manage your discomfort and successfully treat your condition. You’ll want a knowledgeable and trusted source who has shown proven results in helping others with similar troubles.
Our team at Orthopedic & Laser Spine Surgery are experts in treating back pain. Using the latest research, technology, and treatments, our doctors will accurately diagnose your condition and suggest the best solutions for you. In fact, our team of spine experts often finds non-surgical treatments that can help with your specific condition.
If surgery is necessary, then we use the latest, minimally invasive surgeries to minimize pain and scarring. Since these procedures do less harm than traditional open surgeries, you can expect less pain and reliance on pain medications. In fact, most of our patients experience a faster recovery time so they can get back to doing what they love even sooner.
Give yourself a brighter future by taking care of your pain today. Take some time right now to schedule a consultation at Orthopedic & Laser Spine Surgery by calling (855) 853-6542.
Cannabidiol (CBD) oil, or hemp oil, is a special type of oil that we can extract from cannabis plants. Many people use this type of oil to relieve pain-related symptoms that are associated with chronic conditions that cause pain. Unlike marijuana, CBD oils do not contain THC, which is the compound that produces the “high” in humans.
So far, studies that focus on the effects of CBD on chronic conditions, such as arthritis, have been promising. CBD products may or may not work for everyone, but studies show that they certainly work for some patients.
What is CBD Oil?
CBD is a type of chemical that occurs naturally in cannabis plants. While this is the case, the chemical is not currently considered to be a psychoactive substance. Cannabis itself contains a variety of different chemicals. Specifically, the chemical that can produce a psychoactive reaction in humans is called tetrahydrocannabinol (or THC).
CBD products come in many different shapes and sizes, and their contents vary wildly. Some products contain higher amounts of CBD, while others are a bit more toned down. Because many people use the associated plant to achieve recreational highs, there is an unfortunate stigma surrounding CBD products. Naturally, many people automatically assume that CBD products and marijuana are one and the same. This is simply not the case. In fact, most people extract CBD oils from hemp plants, rather than from marijuana plants. Both of these plants fall under the cannabis classification, so the confusion is natural. However, like CBD oil, hemp plants do not contain any THC.
How do CBD Products Relieve Pain?
It would not be truthful to say that the extracted oil from CBD does not affect brain activity. It certainly does, but not in the same way that THC alters our perception. CBD oil reacts with two receptors in the brain, aptly named the CB1 and CB2 receptors. The interaction that takes place between the oil and these receptors is what can reduce chronic pain, such as cancer pain, and inflammation.
Additionally, CB2 also reacts with the immune system. In particular, this is beneficial for people with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), a condition in which the immune system attacks the joints. The relationship between this receptor type and the immune system is likely why CBD products seem to work so well in RA patients.
Of course, the benefits of using CBD products in RA patients do not just end at the immune system. Because of the oil’s anti-inflammatory properties, CBD also slows down the progression of the disease. In some instances, the supplement may even stop the progression altogether. Additionally, CBD products may alleviate symptoms such as fever and fatigue. This is because these problems are closely associated with the inflammation that RA causes.
As previously mentioned, CBD products come in different shapes and sizes. You can find CBD oil in the form of a capsule or even a liquid, for example. One is not really better than the other, it more or less depends on your personal preferences. Some people even mix the oil in with other lotions that they already use. This mixture is effective when applied directly to the affected joints.
To find out the appropriate dosage for you, experts recommend that you consult with your doctor. Dosages in CBD products vary wildly, from 2.5 mg all the way up to over 1000 mg. Most patients start out with small doses and work their way up to determine effectiveness, but it is still recommended that you consult a doctor. If the current dosage you are taking is not providing any benefits, then try slowly increasing the dosage until you notice a change.
Always purchase CBD products from a reputable provider and make sure that they include a full list of ingredients. Although not as common, topical CBD creams and lotions are slowly becoming more available. This will benefit those who already make their own DIY mixtures, as the oil dosage will be much more clear-cut.
CBD Oil & Arthritis Pain Relief
Chronic pain, such as lumbago, is sort of the root of all evil—it leads to so many other problems. Many patients with chronic pain conditions often suffer from comorbid disorders, such as insomnia, depression, or anxiety. This just has to do with the way that a constant, suppressing feeling of pain interacts with the body. It makes us want to do less, and it keeps us from sleeping at night.
Conditions known to produce this dilemma are:
- Osteoarthritis(OA): A degenerative disease caused by age-related wear and tear. Also, one of the most common types of arthritis. Osteoarthritis typically affects joint cartilage and bones, leading to pain and stiffness. Usually, OA primarily attacks the hip, knee, and thumb joints.
- Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA): The other incredibly common form of arthritis. This one is a little different, however, as it is more of an autoimmune disease than a degenerative disorder. Rheumatoid arthritis causes the immune system to attack the joint cartilage and bones, leading to pain and stiffness. Usually, this condition targets the hands and feet.
- Psoriatic Arthritis (PA): Not as common as the other two, but not exactly rare either. PA occurs in patients with psoriasis—a condition that causes red, scaly skin patches. Most people develop psoriasis first, and then PA follows. That being said, there are cases where joint problems appear before the skin lesions.
- Multiple Sclerosis (MS): A disabling disease of the central nervous system. With this condition, the immune system attacks the myelin sheath that covers our nerve fibers. This leads to misfirings and gradual nerve deterioration.
These are just a few conditions that CBD can help. It’s important to note that you do not have to fall on this list to receive the benefits of CBD oil. CBD oil also aids with chronic pain, which for some people, is a condition all on its own.
Does CBD Oil Work?
In that regard, it’s honestly like any other medical treatment. The answer is sometimes. However, CBD constitutes a much better alternative to opioids and comes with fewer side effects. Of course, that statement is case-dependent, but the real appeal here is that CBD oil is not risky. At most, the reported side effects of CBD products are mild. These include fatigue, insomnia, irritability, and nausea. Even still, it is uncommon for these effects to occur. Basically, it almost never hurts to try. CBD oil provides a conservative avenue to explore for those with opioid sensitivity
But, what does the scientific evidence indicate? Studies for cannabis-based treatments in RA patients began in roughly 2006. Researchers concluded that after five weeks of use cannabis-based treatments reduced inflammation and pain in RA patients. Moreover, these patients also experienced improved sleep and little to no negative side effects.
Additional studies have been performed, but they all reveal pretty much the same thing. The only issue with these studies is that they have relatively small sample sizes. That being said, what they do show is quite promising. It is very likely that the future will bring even larger studies that will provide us with even better scientific results that indicate the treatment’s effectiveness.
Are CBD Products Legal?
The answer to this depends on your state, but in most of them, it is. You can easily find interactive maps online that detail your state’s laws on the matter.
Do you have a chronic pain condition? Maybe CBD oil is right for you. As always, if you have any questions on the matter, please contact us at (855)853-6542. Our spine doctors at OLSS are leading experts in the field of conservative treatment options. They will be able to answer any questions you may have about this treatment.