In the last few years, CBD oil has been touted as a wonder cure, providing relief for a range of symptoms and medical conditions, from anxiety to pain. Many people suffering from chronic pain wonder whether CBD oil can truly produce the promised results. The short answer is that it can for many people. The more you learn about CBD oil for pain, the clearer it becomes that this natural substance offers relief, but it is not a miracle.
Problems with Traditional Pain Medications
Although there are many pharmaceutical medications to relieve pain, they all come with their own set of issues. CBD oil offers the same — or better — relief from the pain without the challenges. Here are just a few of the problems with traditional pain medications you will not need to worry about with CBD.
The biggest problem for many is the risk of dependency on traditional pain medications. Some prescription pain medications are more addictive than others, but many carry a risk of dependency. You only need to look at the current opioid epidemic to see this risk.
- Side Effects
In addition to the risk of dependency, most prescription pain medications come with potential side effects that are common. Some common side effects of pain medications include constipation, drowsiness, clouded thinking, nausea, and slowed breathing. By contrast, those who take CBD rarely experience side effects. If they do, those effects are minor.
- Other Ingredients and Allergies
There is also the fact that most prescription medications will include a long list of ingredients which are necessary to create the consistency, to time the dose, and more. While this makes sense, it is bad news for those with allergies. It means that people with certain allergies are unable to take traditional pain medications. Furthermore, they may need to always read the ingredient list in search of a change in the formula that could lead to an allergic reaction.
By contrast, it is simple to find CBD oils that have minimal ingredients. Many only have the CBD extract and a carrier oil. This means that unless you are allergic to CBD itself, it should be much easier to find a CBD oil that does not produce an allergic reaction than finding a prescription medication that does.
Of course, this advantage only applies to those with allergies, but it is an important consideration.
What Is CBD Oil?
CBD oil contains CBD or cannabidiol. Cannabidiol is one of the more than 100 cannabinoids that naturally occur in the cannabis plant. CBD is non-psychoactive and comes from cannabis or hemp.
Other Uses of Hemp
In addition to being grown to produce CBD, hemp plants are also grown for the plant itself. Hemp is popular for fabric, rope, and other applications due to its strength. The hemp plant also grows quickly.
People Have Used CBD and Cannabis for Generations
The use of CBD oil, or the marijuana plant, is not new. In 2015, National Geographic published an article that detailed some of our ancient history of cannabis use. The writers outlined how archaeologists had found charred cannabis seeds in Siberian burial mounds that were probably from 3000 B.C. Chinese medicine has also been using cannabis for thousands of years. Our founding fathers grew hemp on their plantations.
Full-Spectrum vs. Isolate CBD Oil
When you start looking at CBD oils, you will notice that some say “full-spectrum,” “isolate,” or “THC-free.” These labels identify whether CBD is the only cannabinoid in the oil or if it contains others, as well. There are pros and cons of each option, depending on your preference.
THC Is Psychoactive
Most full-spectrum CBD oils will also contain low quantities of THC. THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is a psychoactive cannabinoid. In other words, THC produces the high associated with smoking marijuana. It will also show up on drug tests. As such, those who need their mind to be 100 percent clear or who need to pass drug tests should avoid CBD oils that contain THC. Look for a product labeled THC-free or an isolate.
The Entourage Effect
CBD oils that do contain THC will only have it in small quantities, typically under 0.03 percent. This is the legal limit for THC quantities in hemp products. Most people will not get high from this small quantity, but you may notice some changes to your mental state or hints of the psychoactive effects.
The main reason to opt for a CBD oil with THC in it is for the entourage effect. The entourage effect is the way that CBD and THC interact with each other to enhance the results. In other words, most people who take a CBD oil that contains THC will experience greater pain relief than those who take CBD oil without THC.
How Does CBD Relieve Pain?
For centuries, people have used cannabis to relieve pain, but we have only begun to understand how CBD offers this relief in recent years. From back pain to arthritis pain, CBD can provide relief.
Interactions with the Endocannabinoid System
The pain relief comes down to the way that CBD interacts with the endocannabinoid system. The CBD in cannabis attaches itself to your receptors. A cannabinoid receptor has many purposes, including managing pain. By contrast, THC attaches to CB1 receptors, where it creates the high associated with marijuana.
Essentially, CBD activates the body’s CB2 receptors. In doing so, it activates many pathways responsible for easing pain.
CB2 receptors are part of the immune system, which is why they are important for inflammation and pain. The CB1 receptors are in the brain, linked to appetite, memory, thinking, mood, and coordination.
Interactions with Glycerin Receptors
Some recent research suggests that CBD may also provide pain relief via interactions with glycerin receptors. These are in the spinal cord and brain and are part of the central nervous system. Many, but not all, people with chronic pain will experience disabling of these receptors due to inflammatory factors. When those receptors are disabled, this can increase the pain. CBD may reduce pain by re-enabling the receptors. This explanation for CBD’s pain-reduction properties still requires more research.
Pain-Relieving Benefits of CBD Oil
For those with chronic or temporary pain, CBD oil can provide plenty of benefits that focus on reducing your pain, whether you deal with multiple sclerosis, joint pain, or another type of pain.
- Reduced Hypersensitivity
Some conditions, like fibromyalgia, lead to chronic pain due to central nervous system dysfunctions. Some experts believe that the reduction in pain threshold, known as hypersensitivity, from fibromyalgia may be related to an endocannabinoid system deficiency. This same hypersensitivity to pain can also cause changes in moods and sleeping problems. However, CBD will reduce this sensitivity via its interactions with the endocannabinoid system. As a bonus, the treatment also improves the quality of sleep.
- Relaxed Muscles
When you take CBD, you should notice your muscles begin to relax. Relaxed muscles will make it easier to move, something that is especially important for anyone with chronic pain who wants to engage in daily activities. It is especially important if you suffer from chronic pain and want to increase your mobility, build up muscle, or exercise. Those with chronic pain may find exercising is less painful if they take CBD oil before.
- Reduced Neuropathic Pain
For those dealing with neuropathic pain, CBD can provide relief. This is due to CBD’s targeting of nervous system neurons that transmit pain signals. As a result, those who deal with neuropathic pain will experience an easing of their symptoms when taking CBD oil.
- Anti-Inflammatory Properties
The anti-inflammatory properties of CBD also make it a great choice for reducing pain. It is common to experience tissue damage and severe pain due to chronic inflammation. CBD can reduce both short and long-term inflammation. This reduction in inflammation will reduce your related pain. It will also improve your everyday functionality since muscles, joints, or limbs will no longer be too inflamed to function properly.
Benefits Associated with Using CBD Oil for Pain Relief
In addition to the pain-related benefits of CBD oil, there are some additional advantages associated with this natural compound.
- Reduced Fear of Being Touched
Depending on your type of chronic pain, you may experience a fear of being touched due to the additional pain that contact causes. That fear of being touched due to pain can spiral out of control and affect your daily life, even once you control your pain.
By reducing your pain, you will no longer have to worry as much about the pain associated with being touched. This should reduce your fear of someone accidentally brushing against you. You will also notice a reduction in this type of fear, due to the relaxation and anxiety-reducing benefits of CBD.
- Ease of Sleeping to Heal
It is very common for those who cannot get a good night’s rest to experience more pain. The body needs sleep to complete natural healing and alleviate some of the pain associated with conditions like fibromyalgia and rheumatoid arthritis. Unfortunately, chronic pain makes it hard to fall asleep at night since it is nearly impossible to relax.
CBD helps you fall asleep and get that soothing rest by relieving the pain. After all, it is much easier to fall asleep when you are pain-free than if you are in pain. You are also less likely to wake up in the middle of the night from pain.
Additionally, CBD’s neuroprotective properties make it easier to fall asleep and stay asleep. The relaxation benefit of CBD helps you get a good night’s rest, so your body can take time to heal.
- Relieves Depression
It is common for those experiencing chronic pain to also suffer from depression. If you cannot move around without experiencing pain, it makes it hard to remain positive as you go through your daily life.
In addition to relieving pain, CBD can also have a direct impact on depression. That is because cannabidiol triggers the release of mood-boosting chemicals such as serotonin. It also numbs the brain receptors that can worsen depression. The result can be feeling pain-free and happier with life. Studies have already supported CBD’s antidepressant-like effects.
- Relieves Anxiety
CBD can also help you feel less anxious. It should be unsurprising that if you experience less pain, one of the main sources of anxiety in your life will reduce. In addition to this, CBD can help with an overall reduction in anxiety. You would not want to take advantage of this effect with cannabis since THC can sometimes increase anxiety or trigger paranoia.
By contrast, CBD will help relax your nerves. CBD can help create a general feeling of relaxation. It can also help you overcome situations that would potentially induce anxiety. This can also provide potential benefits for those with PTSD who experience anxiety as well as pain from the trauma.
These antianxiety properties of CBD are not limited to adults. One study from 2016 found potential in CBD oil for treating anxiety in children. The potential of cannabidiol for anxiety relief is so impressive that one study said there is “considerable potential” for using it to treat anxiety disorders.
Research Showing CBD Oil’s Pain-Relieving Abilities
Experts still need to conduct more research into CBD, as the gray legal area with cannabis held previous studies back. Even so, there is already plenty of promising research demonstrating that CBD can reduce pain, including both human studies and animal studies.
CBD for Arthritis Pain — December 2017
A study published in Pain in 2017 looked at the ability of CBD to prevent joint neuropathy and the pain associated with osteoarthritis. The researchers found evidence to support both of these functions of cannabidiol. They concluded that these abilities of CBD were due to its nerve-protective properties and anti-inflammatory properties on the joints.
CBD for Arthritis Pain — July 2016
Another study exploring CBD for arthritis pain, this study from the European Journal of Pain found that topically applied CBD relieved pain-related behaviors in rats with arthritis.
Cannabinoids for Hard-to-Manage Pain — February 2008
One study explored the effects of cannabinoids on treating pain in those with conditions that are hard to manage. This study, published in Therapeutics and Clinical Risk Management, showed that cannabinoids could reduce the pain of patients with conditions or pain that is hard to manage. Many patients in the study had cancer or multiple sclerosis, both of which are notorious for their challenging-to-treat pain.
CBD for Cancer-Related Pain — February 2010 and 2013
This study focused on pain related to cancer. It gave patients an oral spray that combined CBD and THC, along with opioids. The study found that using the extract in addition to the opioids provided improved relief from pain compared to just the opioids.
There was another study in 2013 with a similar premise and similar findings, also using a THC-CBD oral spray. The two studies featured many of the same researchers.
Cannabis for Fibromyalgia — April 2011
A study from 2011 looked at the use of cannabis to treat the pain associated with fibromyalgia. This study found that patients experienced relief from pain, and most only had mild side effects. Those few side effects felt included drowsiness, dizziness, and dry mouth. For the study’s participants, those mild side effects were worth it for the relief provided.
CBD for Migraines — 2017
In 2017, a study looked at CBD and THC for treating migraines. The study had participants take either just THC or mostly CBD with a little THC. Patients who received both CBD and THC saw a drop in pain that was slightly more than that from a tricyclic antidepressant, amitriptyline, commonly prescribed for pain.
CBD for Chronic Pain — November 2018 Review
One review in 2018 looked at past studies on the effectiveness of CBD at treating chronic pain. The studies it examined took place as early as 1975 and as late as March 2018. The studies look at multiple types of pain, including fibromyalgia, cancer pain, and neuropathic pain. The review concluded that CBD could assist with overall pain management without negative effects.
The Legality of CBD Oil
Unfortunately, there is not a clear-cut answer to whether CBD oil is legal. The short answer is that it should be legal in your jurisdiction, but it is more complicated than this.
The Drug Enforcement Administration’s Stance
In 2015, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) eased the requirements for clinical trials on CBD that are FDA-approved. Cannabis is still a Schedule I controlled substance, but the DEA loosened its restriction on the quantities of CBD allowed for use in studies.
The Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 — The Farm Bill
The Farm Bill in 2018 made it CBD legal, as long as it comes from hemp. For CBD to be legal under the Farm Bill, it cannot have more than 0.3 percent THC, a figure that depends on the dry weight.
If CBD comes from cannabis instead of hemp, then it is not legal. Cannabis is still a Schedule I drug and illegal due to the Controlled Substances Act.
Importantly, for the CBD to be legal, it must not only meet the requirement of having 0.3 percent or less THC, but it must also be grown in accordance with the law. That means that a licensed producer who follows federal regulations must have grown the hemp in question.
FDA-Approved Prescription Medications with CBD
The FDA has already approved a medication that contains CBD. Epidiolex treats forms of epilepsy that are rare and severe. The FDA approval of this medication shows that the organization has a willingness to consider CBD in medicines, at least in certain situations.
State laws also play a role in whether CBD is legal. Most states allow for hemp oil CBD since it is legal at the federal level. States with medical marijuana will also allow cannabis-based CBD if you have a medical cannabis license. Those with recreational marijuana typically allow cannabis-based CBD as long as you are of age.
The best way to stay within the law is to check the CBD regulations in your jurisdiction before buying or using any product. That said, it is rare for anyone to be prosecuted for using CBD products, although it could theoretically happen.
CBD Oil Is Safe
Before taking any supplement or medication, you should always research whether it is safe, and CBD is no exception. Research into cannabidiol is still relatively new. So far, CBD appears to be completely safe. Even the National Institute on Drug Abuse indicates that CBD is a safe drug and does not seem to have any addictive properties.
The caveat is that while CBD is safe, the FDA does not currently regulate products containing it. This means that the organization does not supervise CBD oil or hold CBD oil manufacturers to any standards. Instead, the FDA treats CBD oil as a supplement, with the lack of restrictions that come with it.
This may change in the future. In December 2018, an FDA statement announced the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018. The same statement also indicated that the FDA treats products with cannabis or CBD, just like other FDA-regulated products. This may indicate that the FDA will begin regulating CBD products instead of treating them like supplements without regulation.
Most Manufacturers Offer Independent Lab Testing
Because the FDA does not regulate CBD oil, most manufacturers of CBD products, including oil, take steps to provide customers with confidence in their products. In addition to the common claims of “high-quality” or “organic” products, the most-respected manufacturers offer independent lab results on their products.
Companies will have a third-party lab test their products for purities and things such as heavy metals. They then publish these results on their website. This way, customers can have confidence in the products they buy, even if they are not FDA-regulated.
Potential Side Effects
There are minimal potential side effects associated with CBD oil for pain, especially compared to pharmaceutical pain medications. The largest risk is drowsiness, which is why you should not operate heavy machinery or drive when taking CBD oil. You may also experience changes in weight or appetite or diarrhea when taking CBD.
Potential Medication Interactions
There is one main caveat to the safety of CBD oil — it can interact with certain medications. Because of this, you should always discuss taking CBD with your doctor or pharmacist before you start taking it. Some of the common medications that CBD can interact with include clozapine, ondansetron, progesterone, testosterone, omeprazole, diazepam, ibuprofen, ketamine, warfarin, codeine, tramadol, alprazolam, morphine, and benzodiazepines. That list is far from conclusive. If you absolutely cannot talk to your doctor before taking CBD, at least look online to confirm it does not interact with any of your current medications.
Other Potential Interactions
There is also some indication that certain supplements and herbs may enhance the drowsiness from CBD. These include skullcap, sage, melatonin, catnip, calamus, Jamaican dogwood, and St. John’s wort, among others. The same source, MedlinePlus, indicates that taking CBD when eating a meal with high-fat content can increase your body’s absorption of cannabidiol, increasing your potential reaction.
How to Use CBD Oil for Pain
If you appreciate the idea of taking CBD oil for pain, then you will find yourself with many ways to incorporate it into your daily life. You can take CBD oil directly, mix it into something else, or purchase products that contain CBD oil.
Your decision of which method to use will likely depend on your personal preference, convenience, and the bioavailability of the CBD. Bioavailability refers to the amount that your body can effectively use, and it depends on the method chosen. For example, vaping CBD has a bioavailability of 40 percent, while oral CBD may have a bioavailability of just 6 percent.
Oils and Tinctures
Oils and tinctures are among the most common methods of taking CBD oil for pain or other health benefits. You take these orally, typically by placing a few drops of the substance under your tongue. Both the time for the effects to begin and the duration of the effects of CBD are moderate with this method.
If you want to target the pain relief from CBD on a specific part of your body, you may want to consider topical treatments. These are lotions and salves that include CBD, sometimes with additional ingredients to moisturize or soothe the skin. A study from the European Journal of Pain found that applying topical CBD reduces pain from arthritis.
Vaping CBD oil lets you inhale it via a vape pen. This will deliver the cannabidiol directly into your system for quick absorption. However, since the effects begin sooner, they also start to wear off sooner than other methods. In addition to the nearly immediate relief associated with vaping CBD oil, many patients appreciate that various flavors are available.
You can also easily find capsules or soft gels containing CBD oil. These offer convenience via their pre-dosed nature. They will take a little longer to start working because the capsule must first travel through the digestive system.
CBD Gummies and Other Edibles
The final popular option is to eat CBD edibles, such as gummies. These are pre-dosed like capsules, offering convenience. However, they have the benefit of tasting better. Think of it as taking a chewable vitamin instead of the one you swallow. Gummies and edibles must pass through the digestive system before they can start working, but the effects should be among the longest lasting of any method.
Dosing for CBD Oil
There is no official recommendation on how much CBD oil you should take. This will depend on your level of pain, your weight, your genetics, your metabolism, and more. Experts agree that you should always start with a smaller dose and work your way up to a larger one if it does not provide relief. If you take too much CBD, you increase your risk of side effects. Most will suggest starting with an amount of CBD between 10 and 25 milligrams per day, then increase if necessary.
Choosing Your CBD Oil
If you suffer from chronic pain and want to try CBD oil, then you will have plenty of options available. How do you choose which one to try? Keep the following factors in mind.
As mentioned, you should always opt for a CBD oil that has undergone independent lab testing. You want to be able to look at the lab results or a certificate of analysis to confirm potency and safety.
Look at where the hemp was grown and then check the regulations for growing hemp in that country. If the hemp was grown in the U.S., for example, you know it follows U.S. laws.
The potency will be an important decision for you. If you are new to using CBD, find a product with a low dose. If you find you need higher doses to experience relief, find an oil with a higher potency, so you do not need to take as much of it. Don’t forget to consider whether you want a THC-free product.
Do not forget to consider the reputation of the company manufacturing and selling the CBD oil. Read reviews and look for complaints against the company, so you know which ones to avoid.
Top Picks for CBD Oil for Pain
To save you time in your search for a CBD oil for pain management, we gathered some of the best products in the industry. All of these products have certificates of analysis and come from reputable companies.
CBDistillery THC-Free Pure CBD Oil Tincture — 2500 mg — 30 mL
CBDistillery is one of the CBD companies with the widest range of products. Those who have to deal with chronic pain but do not want THC to show up in their system will appreciate the THC-free options. This particular product comes with 2,500 milligrams of CBD in 30 milliliters, giving you 83 milligrams of CBD in each 1-milliliter serving. You can also get the THC-free CBD oil from CBDistillery with 500 or 1,000 milligrams per bottle. The company also offers THC-free soft gels.
There is also a full range of products that do contain THC, including oils, gummies, capsules, topicals, and vapes. There are also variety packs if you are not sure what to try.
CBDPure Hemp Oil 100
The CBDPure Hemp Oil 100 offers 100 milligrams of CBD, divided into 3.3 milligrams of CBD in each serving. You get the natural hemp flavor instead of artificial flavors. There are also higher potencies available with either 300 or 600 milligrams in a bottle of the same size (60 milliliters). Those who prefer pre-portioned CBD can also use the brand’s CBDPure Softgels 750. This is a convenient option with 25 milligrams of CBD in every soft gel.
This company is highly transparent, offering information about each of its production stages. It also has a 100 percent satisfaction guarantee program that lasts 90 days. This is a very competitive return policy.
HempBombs 125 mg CBD Oil
HempBombs gets its hemp from European farms, which may be a positive or a negative for you. You can see the third-party test results on the company’s website for peace of mind. One of the really nice things about this company is its range of products available. This product is a CBD oil with 125 milligrams of CBD in each bottle, but you can also opt for a bottle with 300, 600, 1,000, 2,000, or 4,000 milligrams of CBD if you need a higher dose. You can also choose from several flavors, including unflavored, peppermint, and watermelon.
HempBombs has a few products geared specifically toward fighting pain. The Pain CBD Patches offer a topical application with 50 milligrams of CBD in each patch and no THC. Each patch lasts for eight to 12 hours. There is also a CBD Pain Freeze available in two sizes. The company describes it as working well for cramps, inflammation, pain, and muscle aches.
The company also offers a range of gummies, with a range of potencies and options for sleep. Those interested in gummies for pain relief should consider the CBD Gummies Sample Pack, which includes a 5-pack of each original, high-potency, and sleep gummies. The company also offers capsules, e-liquid for vaping, e-liquid additives, CBD vape tanks, vape pens, essential oil rollers, lollipops, syrups, and patches.
NuLeaf Naturals 4850 mg Cannabidiol
NuLeaf Naturals offers some very-high-potency CBD oils, perfect for those who experience extreme pain and need a higher dose. This product has 4,850 milligrams of CBD total, for 50 milligrams in every milliliter. There are also four other potencies available, with potencies as low as 240 milligrams per bottle. This CBD oil is full-spectrum, so keep that in mind. NuLeaf Naturals uses organic hemp grown in Colorado. The range of potencies helps the brand appeal to those with nearly any severity of pain.
Royal CBD Full Spectrum CBD Oil 1,000 mg
This is a full-spectrum CBD oil, meaning that it will contain low levels of THC and other cannabinoids to enhance the effects of the CBD. This is the company’s highest-strength option, ideal for those who need a high level of pain relief. Each milliliter of oil delivers 33 milligrams of CBD, with each drop giving you about 1 milligram. This makes it very easy to adjust the dosage of CBD with this product.
As with all Royal CBD products, this CBD oil has third-party lab tests for potency, quality, and purity. The company prides itself on offering “premium” CBD oils. If you prefer a lower potency, Royal CBD also offers a similar product with either 250 or 500 milligrams of CBD in the entire bottle.
You can also get CBD Softgel Capsules from the company, with each capsule containing 25 milligrams of CBD. To round out the options, the company also offers CBD Gummies. These gummies are actually a very good choice for those who want pre-portioned doses in low levels of CBD. Most gummies or capsules from competitors have doses of 20 to 50 milligrams each, but these gummies have just 10 milligrams each. This makes them ideal for those who need lower doses.
Spruce Natural Labs 750 mg Lab Grade CBD Oil
This CBD oil from Spruce Natural Labs has a total of 750 milligrams of CBD in it. Each 1-milliliter dropper gives you 25 milligrams of full-spectrum CBD. The dropper is graduated, so you can easily adjust the dose based on your needs. The product is organic, gluten-free, and vegan. It just has natural flavors, organic hemp seed oil, and full-spectrum CBD oil.
The products from Spruce Natural Labs are always 100 percent U.S.-grown and tested. The company focuses on CBD oil tinctures that are full-spectrum. This means that if you need a product without any THC, you should look elsewhere. However, if you want to take advantage of the entourage effect, the company is a great option.
Those who need a higher concentration of CBD to treat their pain could get the 2,400 mg Lab Grade CBD Oil from the same company. It is nearly identical, but it does not have flavoring added, and each full dropper has 80 milligrams of CBD. The company also offers a topical CBD cream for those who want to target their pain relief.
Those who suffer from chronic pain may experience relief from CBD. Cannabidiol is non-psychoactive and comes from the cannabis plant. Numerous studies have shown that taking CBD can help provide pain relief from a range of conditions, including fibromyalgia, arthritis, and cancer. CBD is legal in most areas due to its lack of THC, and you should have no problem finding a CBD oil to help you with pain relief.
Taking CBD oil for pain bears minimal side effects, with the most common one being drowsiness. It is safe to use and available in various forms and doses depending on your needs. Start with a small dose when you begin using CBD oil and work your way up to a higher dose if you do not experience relief. In addition to pain relief, taking CBD should help with inflammation, anxiety, and depression.
Abdominal pain is one of the most common concerns that pregnant women express to their obstetricians. They wonder if their pain is something normal or if it is something to be worried about. They do not want to raise the alarm to their doctor if the problem is normal and should be expected during a typical pregnancy. In most instances, abdominal pain that is not severe is nothing most pregnant women need to worry about. However, there are exceptions to that rule. In all cases, a pregnant woman should always err on the side of caution and involve her doctor if she is worried about the problem.
What Causes Pregnancy Pain?
The overall changes to a pregnant woman’s body often lead to many pains. First, there is the weight gain, which can cause aches, including in the abdominal cavity. Second, some hormones naturally relax the joints all around the woman’s body in slow preparation for birth. Third, a pregnant woman may also notice pain that comes along with digestive changes, including heartburn and constipation. Finally, when labor is coming within the next few weeks, the body also changes more, which can lead to pregnancy pain all around the body.
What Is Normal Pregnancy Pain?
One common complaint of pregnancy pain is when the round ligaments around the abdomen stretch unexpectedly. It can happen with sudden movements, and it can happen one time and not happen again when a pregnant woman makes a repetitive motion. It can come as sharp pain across the abdomen, or it may come as a dull ache that is little more than annoying.
Another possible, and normal, pregnancy pain is back pain. It is due to the increased pressure the abdomen puts on the lower back, especially at the later stages of pregnancy when the baby reaches his or her full-term weight. The hormones going through the woman’s body relax the joints and ligaments specifically around the pelvis, which includes the area across the lower back. It can lead to constant back pain around the end of pregnancy.
Normal pregnancy pain also includes the pain that comes when labor begins. It is when the cervix opens enough to allow the baby to pass through and be delivered. This type of pain can be dull at first and slowly progress into a sharper pain, or it can be an overwhelming pain from the onset. It can also appear as abdominal pain, or it can show up as back pain. Some women have some combination of both abdominal and back pain during labor, and this often depends on the direction the baby is facing.
Are Braxton-Hicks Contractions Something to Worry About?
Many women face Braxton-Hicks contractions, especially during the second half of pregnancy. These are considered trial contractions for the woman’s body. It is the uterus trying to contract to make sure that everything goes well during labor and delivery. These contractions are considered benign by obstetricians, but they can be difficult to discern from traditional contractions. The differences between Braxton-Hicks contractions and those that are connected to labor include:
- Timing. When traditional labor starts, the contractions are equidistant and become closer over time. Braxton-Hicks contractions do not stick to any time schedule and come when they want. They also typically range in intensity and are typically only uncomfortable.
- Pain. Contractions that go with labor become increasingly painful as it comes closer to delivery. Braxton-Hicks contractions are intense enough to get a pregnant woman’s attention, but the pain does not become more intense.
- Position. When contractions begin for traditional labor, moving around does not do anything to reduce the discomfort of the contraction. For a woman experiencing Braxton-Hicks contractions, moving around can cause the contractions to stop altogether.
- Hydration. Braxton-Hicks contractions often show up when a pregnant woman is dehydrated. Once she gets properly hydrated, they usually subside. Traditional contractions do not stop with increased water consumption.
Managing Pregnancy Pain
For the most part, pregnant women find coping with pregnancy pain easier by staying active and listening to their bodies. The body gives off signals when it is getting overused or overwhelmed. Pregnant women need to listen to these signals and take it easy when their body indicates that it has had enough. Going into pregnancy and being inactive is likely going to increase the pain a woman goes through. Instead, go for regular walks, keep up with any exercise that the doctor says is safe, and rest when the body shows it needs to.
Another way of managing pain is making sure to remain hydrated. Dehydration can increase the pain a pregnant woman feels, and it can also cause an increase in pain that a pregnant woman goes through. Simply making sure to consume at least 100 ounces of water per day can be all she needs to do since the need for water is higher during pregnancy. If the pain is extreme or if it interferes with the ability for a normal daily routine, the woman needs to speak with her doctor about it.
What Is Serious Pregnancy Pain?
Pregnancy pain is difficult to discern at times. The same symptom could point to a urinary tract infection or a miscarriage in progress. The best way to know for sure if the issue is serious is to get a doctor’s advice on the specific type and location of the pain. Here are some general guidelines as to when the pain is serious and needs immediate attention.
- Sharp pain on the right side of the body could point to a problem with the appendix and may require surgery if that is the problem.
- Preeclampsia shows up as a sharp pain in the upper right corner of the abdomen, as well, and usually comes with severe nausea. It requires immediate medical intervention and should not ever be ignored.
- Sharp pain in the upper part of the abdomen could point to a problem with the gallbladder. It is especially prevalent toward the end of pregnancy when all of the organs are pushed aside to make room for the growing baby.
Symptoms of Preterm Labor to Be on the Lookout For
Early labor happens to pregnant women between 37 weeks gestation and 39 weeks gestation. However, that is not considered preterm labor. Preterm labor is when a mother goes into labor before 37 weeks gestation. It means the baby has not fully developed and could be more susceptible to ailments or struggles at birth.
A baby born before 23 weeks is often considered too early to be viable. It means the baby likely passes away during or shortly after birth, so knowing the signs of preterm labor is crucial. If caught early enough, sometimes preterm labor can be stopped or stalled, buying the baby more time inside the womb to finish developing.
For pregnant women, any pain that is sharp, unexpected, and does not go away right away needs to be checked out by an obstetrician. It could be any number of things, including problems with the placenta, internal bleeding, or the baby struggling.
Cramping that feels similar to menstrual cramps is another sign pregnant women need to be wary of. Mild cramping can happen because of dehydration or being sick, but with hydration, the cramps should subside. If they do not, it could point to preterm labor.
Bleeding or watery discharge are also signs of preterm labor. These are serious signs of a problem that should never be ignored. It could point to the imminent delivery of the baby or that the baby is in danger. The sooner the pregnant woman can get to a hospital for an exam, the better.
Understanding the normal pregnancy pains, women can feel more in control over their pregnancy. It can be difficult to decide if there is a reason for concern, so hopefully, this gives pregnant women a sense of empowerment over whether they need to worry. When in doubt, a call to the doctor’s office is always the best option. It can be what needs to happen to save a woman and child from danger.