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A person with back pain may experience a stabbing sensation, muscle soreness, or a continuous dull ache in one or more areas of the back. To relieve these symptoms, some people may consider using a cream containing cannabidiol (CBD).

People may use topical medications, such as creams, to alleviate back pain. Some companies now include CBD as an ingredient in these products, as evidence suggests it may help treat pain and inflammation.

However, although pain medication may help, the causes of back pain can vary. In some cases, the pain could indicate a health issue that requires medical treatment.

The products we list below are of high quality, and their manufacturers can provide proof of independent, third-party testing. However, we recommend that individuals do their own research before purchasing any CBD product.

Is CBD legal?The 2018 Farm Bill removed hemp from the legal definition of marijuana in the Controlled Substances Act. This made some hemp-derived CBD products with less than 0.3 percent THC federally legal. However, CBD products containing more than 0.3 percent THC still fall under the legal definition of marijuana, making them federally illegal but legal under some state laws. Be sure to check state laws, especially when traveling. Also, keep in mind that the FDA has not approved nonprescription CBD products, and some products may be inaccurately labeled.

A quick look at some of the best CBD creams for back pain

If a person’s back pain is due to an underlying condition, CBD cream will not treat the issue. Instead, it may help by numbing or alleviating the pain. A person should consider speaking with a medical professional to assess the reason for their back pain.

This section lists a few CBD creams to consider for back pain.

Please note that the writer of this article has not tried these products. All information presented is purely research-based and correct at the time of publication.

Medical News Today follows a strict product selection and vetting process. Learn more here.

Learn more about buying CBD products here.

Best full-spectrum CBD: Lazarus Naturals Soothing Mint Full Spectrum CBD Balm

Lazarus Naturals Soothing Mint Full Spectrum CBD Balm
  • Type of CBD: This product contains full-spectrum CBD.
  • Strength: The product is available in strengths of 1,000 milligrams (mg) and 3,000 mg of CBD per container.
  • Size: The product comes in 0.7-ounce (oz) and 2.1-oz containers.
  • Price: The price starts at $16.

This balm contains full-spectrum hemp extract. This means it contains all the cannabinoids that occur naturally in the hemp plant, including trace amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). The manufacturers claim that half a teaspoon of the product contains 50 mg of CBD.

As well as CBD, this product contains menthol and organic mango butter. Older research shows that both menthol and mango have pain-relieving properties.

Best for pain relief: CBDfx Muscle and Joint CBD Hemp Cream

CBDFX Muscle and Joint CBD Hemp Cream.
  • Type of CBD: This product contains broad-spectrum CBD.
  • Strength: The product is available in strengths of 500 mg, 1,000 mg, and 3,000 mg of CBD per bottle.
  • Size: This product comes in a 1.7-fluid ounce (fl oz) bottle.
  • Price: The price starts at $30.

This cream contains two anti-inflammatory ingredients for pain relief: white willow bark and caffeine. Additionally, it features menthol for a cooling effect.

The company uses United States-grown hemp to manufacture this product, which is vegan-friendly and cruelty- and solvent-free.

The cream also undergoes testing at a third-party laboratory, and the company displays its certificate of analysis (COA) on its website.

Best for warming: CBDistillery CBD Warming Cream

CBDistillery CBD Warming Cream.
  • Type of CBD: This product contains CBD isolate.
  • Strength: The product contains 500 mg of CBD isolate per bottle.
  • Size: The cream comes in a 1.7-fl oz bottle.
  • Price: The product has a list price of $35.

This warming cream contains 500 mg of CBD isolate per bottle.

It also features camphor for a warming sensation. The company states that the hemp it uses is free from genetically modified organisms and is grown in the U.S. using natural farming processes.

CBDistillery has certification with the U.S. Hemp Authority. All its products undergo third-party testing, and a person can view laboratory results on the company’s website.

Use code “MNT20” for 20% off.

Best for cooling: Aspen Green Muscle Relief Cooling Cream

Aspen Green Muscle Relief Cooling Cream
  • Type of CBD: This product contains full-spectrum CBD.
  • Strength: The product contains 1,000 mg of CBD per container.
  • Size: The product comes in a 2-oz container.
  • Price: It costs $85.

This cooling cream contains 1,000 mg of full-spectrum CBD per container.

It is water-based and contains organic hemp. The company recommends rubbing this product on nonsensitive parts of the body where a person is experiencing discomfort, such as the back, legs, or shoulders.

Aspen Green states that this product is third-party tested. People can view the company’s COA on its website.

Best THC-free cream: Joy Organics Premium CBD Sports Cream

Joy Organics Premium CBD Sports Cream
  • Type of CBD: This product contains broad-spectrum CBD.
  • Strength: The product contains 400 mg of CBD per bottle.
  • Size: The product comes in a 4-fl oz container.
  • Price: The product costs $31.96.

This vegan product contains 400 mg of broad-spectrum CBD per bottle. The company states that this cream is free from THC.

The cream contains camphor and menthol, which may help relieve aching muscles. The company recommends applying this product before, during, or after physical activity.

Joy Organics states that this cream undergoes third-party testing. People can view this cream’s COA on the company’s website.

The following table compares the CBD creams in this article.

ProductLazarus Naturals Soothing Mint Full Spectrum CBD BalmCBDfx Muscle and Joint CBD Hemp CreamCBDistillery CBD Warming CreamAspen Green Muscle Relief Cooling CreamJoy Organics Premium CBD Sports Cream
CBD typefull-spectrumbroad-spectrumisolatefull-spectrumbroad-spectrum
CBD strength• 1,000 mg
• 3,000 mg
• 500 mg
• 1,000 mg
• 3,000 mg
500 mg1,000 mg400 mg
Size• 0.7 oz
• 2.1 oz
1.7 fl oz1.7 fl oz2 oz4 fl oz
Pricestarts at $16starts at $30$35$85$31.96

Medical News Today does not rank products in any order or recommend one product over another. A person should choose the product that best fits their needs.

MNT chooses products that meet the following criteria:

  • Ingredients: Products must contain safe, high quality ingredients that are clearly labeled. They should also state they are free from pesticides, heavy metals, and mold.
  • Dosage: Products must clearly state the CBD dosage.
  • Serving size: Manufacturers must clearly state a serving size.
  • Third-party laboratories: Products must undergo third-party testing for contaminants by an ISO/IEC 17025-compliant laboratory.
  • Available COA: Companies demonstrate transparency and share a product’s COA following receipt of its third-party laboratory results.

People may wish to consider several factors before purchasing CBD cream, such as:

  • COA: A person should only purchase CBD products from companies with COAs available for that product. These certificates verify that the product’s ingredient lists are correct and that the ingredients are generally not harmful to individuals.
  • Ingredients: CBD creams may have different ingredients, such as camphor for a warming feel or menthol for a cooling effect.
  • Spectrum type: CBD products typically come in two different types: full-spectrum and broad-spectrum. Full-spectrum CBD contains up to 0.3% THC, while broad-spectrum products do not contain any THC.

Learn more about the differences between full-spectrum and broad-spectrum CBD here.

CBD cream is a topical product that contains CBD alongside other ingredients. Depending on a particular cream, it may aim to reduce inflammation, hydrate the skin, or ease pain.

CBD creams typically contain CBD oil. CBD oil contains CBD mixed with a carrier oil, which helps create a diluted version of the product.

CBD comes from the Cannabis sativa (C. sativa) plant. People and companies infuse it into a range of products, including:

THC is the compound, or cannabinoid, responsible for the “high” that people associate with cannabis. Producers can isolate CBD from the C. sativa plant and THC compound. Therefore, CBD alone will not cause a person to feel high.

Some CBD products may contain up to 0.3% of THC in dry weight. While this amount is unlikely to affect a person, tinctures and capsules include THC concentrate, which may cause a euphoric effect, dizziness, and drowsiness.

Researchers have found that certain compounds in the cannabis plant may have beneficial effects, including:

  • alleviating pain
  • relieving anxiety
  • reducing spasms
  • relaxing muscles
  • reducing inflammation

People experiencing pain may find CBD products beneficial. However, a person should consult a doctor or pharmacist if they intend to use CBD products alongside prescription or nonprescription medications, to reduce the risk of drug interactions and side effects.

CBD binds to molecules in the body, including:

  • G protein-coupled receptors: CBD blocks several g protein receptors in the brain, including GPR3, GPR6, and GPR12, which may play a role in neuropathic pain development.
  • Transporters: CBD binds to transporters in the endocannabinoid system, such as fatty acid-binding proteins. It also inhibits other transporters, producing anti-inflammatory effects.
  • Enzymes: CBD inhibits certain enzymes and acids that have a role in inflammation.
  • Nuclear factors: CBD interacts with nuclear factors in the body to produce anti-inflammatory effects.
  • Transient receptor potential vanilloids (TRPVs): TRPV receptors play an important role in pain signaling. CBD blocks these receptors, which can lead to pain-relieving effects.

A 2020 systematic review of animal studies and clinical trials found that CBD may help ease pain symptoms.

Animal studies have shown that CBD may ease neuropathic, inflammatory, and arthritis-related pain. CBD in oral, injectable, or gel form helped reduce inflammation and had analgesic, or pain-relieving, effects.

CBD gel may also reduce pain and itchiness in humans. However, most clinical trials investigate the effects of CBD with THC, the psychoactive part of the cannabis plant. CBD with THC can ease pain, improve sleep quality, and reduce insomnia and fatigue.

For more information and resources on CBD and CBD products, please visit our dedicated hub.

An older study examining the effects of CBD on the body found that the substance may reduce pain. More recent research has continued to show the benefits of CBD for this symptom.

A 2019 review concludes that CBD may have both antioxidative and anti-inflammatory properties. Additionally, a 2016 study looking at arthritis in rats notes that applying a CBD gel alleviated inflammation and pain in the rodents.

As the inclusion of CBD into health products is a relatively recent development, there is a lack of scientific research examining the long-term risks of using it.

Additionally, a person should perform a patch test before using CBD cream on their skin. If they experience a reaction to the product, they should stop using it and contact a doctor.

Anyone who takes medicines and is considering using a CBD cream should also consult a doctor or qualified CBD clinician. These professionals can advise whether CBD will interact with the medication.

People can apply CBD cream to their skin as any other lotion.

However, it is important to follow the instructions on the product packaging. Individuals should start by applying a small amount of the cream and gradually increase the amount they use as necessary.

If a person experiences any reactions, such as redness or inflammation, they should stop using the product immediately and contact a healthcare professional.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has only approved one CBD product, Epidiolex, a prescription medication for certain types of seizures.

Generally, people tolerate CBD well. However, the FDA warns that CBD can cause some side effects, including:

The FDA also states that CBD use may have negative effects that people cannot notice, including potential liver damage and harm to fetuses.

Additionally, CBD may interact with certain medications. People should contact a doctor and inform them that they are considering taking CBD products, to ensure their medication will work correctly.

If a person does not want to try a CBD cream for their back pain or if they wish to use it alongside other treatments, they may consider the following:

Acupuncture

Acupuncture involves trained practitioners inserting needles into specific points on the body. A 2015 review examining the benefits of acupuncture for chronic lower back pain notes that it may provide short-term pain relief.

Massage

A 2016 case study involving a man with chronic back pain suggests that four massages over a 20-day period improved chronic back pain.

However, more research is necessary to explore the benefits of massage for treating chronic back pain.

This therapy may also be more suitable for individuals with exercise-related back muscle soreness.

Spinal manipulation

The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health suggests spinal manipulation may help relieve sciatica, lower back pain, and neck pain.

Exercise

According to research, engaging in exercise that strengthens the back may alleviate chronic back and neck pain.

Below, we answer some frequently asked questions about CBD.

How long does it take for CBD to relieve pain?

The time it takes to feel CBD’s effects differs between products. For example, sublingual CBD, which people place under the tongue, takes up to 45 minutes to take effect.

The time it takes for CBD cream to relieve pain may also vary between individuals. A person should follow all product instructions carefully when using the cream.

How strong should CBD be to relieve pain?

CBD is available in different strengths. Companies should state how strong the CBD is in the product description. The more CBD present in a product — usually in mg measurements — the stronger it is.

However, people should start at a lower strength or use less CBD cream. If necessary, they can gradually increase the strength or amount of CBD over time.

Are CBD products legal?

Individuals should always check state laws where they are residing or traveling to before using CBD products, to ensure that they are not breaking any state laws.

Hemp-derived CBD is legal federally. However, some states may class hemp-derived CBD as an illegal substance.

Cannabis-derived CBD is illegal federally, but it may be legal under certain state laws.

CBD creams are products that a person applies to their skin. They may reduce pain and inflammation in individuals with back pain.

Although CBD creams may provide some pain relief, people should seek guidance from a healthcare professional first to assess the underlying cause of their pain and receive medical treatment, if necessary.