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CBD has been found to relieve pain and inflammation. Learn how a CBD cream may help with your back discomfort, and which products are worth your money.

Healthline has sole editorial control over this article. Potential uses for the products listed here are not health claims made by the manufacturers. The information in this article is intended to be general in nature. It’s not intended to be a substitute for medical advice from a healthcare professional. Healthline encourages you to make any treatment decisions with your healthcare professional.

Back pain isn’t a one-size-fits-all issue. The location and type of pain can signal different causes and degrees of complexity.

But when we talk about having an aching or stiff back, creaky joints, or even some nerve pain, CBD may help.

Unlike THC (aka tetrahydrocannabinol, an active ingredient in cannabis), CBD (aka cannabidiol, another active ingredient) doesn’t get you “high.” But it does show promise for relieving the kind of inflammation and pain typical of some back complaints.

However, because CBD isn’t regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) the way over-the-counter or prescription medications are, it’s important to choose products that are and do what they claim.

Keep reading for our recommendations of the best CBD creams to ease back pain, and tips on what to look for when shopping for CBD.


  • May help reduce inflammation and pain: Keep in mind that research is ongoing, and CBD might not affect everyone the same.
  • No risk of addiction: Unlike opioids, which are sometimes prescribed for back pain, CBD does not cause physical dependence.
  • Often contains other beneficial ingredients: Many CBD creams contain additional ingredients like arnica and menthol that also work to help reduce pain levels.
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  • Not ideal for full-body effects: Topicals provide targeted relief, so they may be less useful for full-body pain that results from conditions like fibromyalgia.
  • Might not work for everyone: Some people claim to have great success with CBD topicals for back pain. But that does not mean this alternative treatment will necessarily work for you.
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ProductCBD typePriceCBD potency
CBDfx Muscle and Joint Cream, Cooling Formulabroad-spectrum$49.99–$99.991,000 or 3,000 mg
Medterra Pain Relief Creamisolate$39.99–$59.99500 or 1,000 mg
Aspen Green Relief Cooling Creamfull-spectrum$89.991,000 mg
Joy Organics Premium CBD Sports Creambroad-spectrum$49.951,000 mg
FOCL CBD Relief Creambroad-spectrum$39-$591,000 or 2,000 mg

When choosing CBD products, we keep the same general criteria in mind. Our team independently vets each brand and product using the same medical and business stands. Each product featured:

  • is made by a company that provides proof of third-party testing by an ISO 17025-compliant lab
  • is made by a brand that discloses the source of their hemp
  • contains no more than 0.3 percent THC, according to the certificate of analysis (COA)
  • passes tests for pesticides, molds, and heavy metals, according to the COA

When making our selections, we also consider:

  • company certification and manufacturing processes
  • CBD potency
  • whether products contain quality ingredients, including additional ingredients that may help with pain relief
  • indicators of user trust and brand reputation, such as:
    • customer reviews
    • whether the company has been subject to an FDA warning letter
    • whether the company makes any unsupported health claims

No product will magically eliminate back pain. However, CBD cream may help alleviate back pain when you apply it topically to the affected area.

CBD works on the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS), a complex cell-signaling system involved with sleep, mood, and pain sensation, among other functions.

Your body naturally produces endocannabinoids, which interact with receptors in the skin and other parts of your body, to produce physiological effects, including pain relief and anti-inflammation.

Because cannabinoids, like CBD, are similar to naturally produced endocannabinoids, they may also produce similar effects. Research suggests CBD can help reduce inflammation and certain types of pain, like diabetic nerve pain.

Additionally, some animal research shows that CBD can help reduce arthritis pain when applied topically. And another 2018 review found that topical CBD could help reduce pain, inflammation, and swelling.

There is also evidence that CBD may offer relief from back pain specifically. A small 2022 observational study involving 48 older adults ages 63–95 looked at the treatment effects of ingesting CBD gel caps on lower back pain.

At the end of the study period, participants reported significant improvements in pain and quality of life, though it’s important to note this study didn’t include a placebo control group.

Although not specific to back pain, research from 2020 also suggests that topical CBD products are beneficial for reducing pain in people who are in palliative care.

However, much of the research on cannabinoids and pain looks at how cannabis (containing both THC and CBD) plays a role in limiting pain. CBD may be a contributing factor, but there’s less research involving CBD alone.

With so many options on the market for CBD, it’s important to understand what signals a safe, high quality product. Here’s what to consider when shopping for a topical CBD product.

Third-party testing

At the moment, the FDA doesn’t guarantee the quality or safety of CBD products. It can take action against CBD companies making wild health claims or false promises, but it’s really up to you to read labels carefully.

The easiest way to check whether a product contains what it says it does is to look at the COA. A COA should be up to date and come from a reputable third-party lab. Information on the COA should match the product label.

In addition to potency information, a comprehensive COA will have pesticide, mold, and heavy metal testing results.

CBD type

There are different types of CBD: isolate, broad-spectrum, and full-spectrum:

  • Isolate CBD, sometimes known as pure CBD, contains no compounds found in the cannabis plant except for the CBD itself.
  • Broad-spectrum CBD doesn’t contain any CBD either, but it does have other components of the cannabis plant, such as flavonoids, terpenes, and other cannabinoids.
  • Full-spectrum CBD contains all parts of the cannabis plants, including trace amounts of THC. Federally legal full-spectrum CBD products will always contain less than 0.3% THC. There’s some evidence that the compounds in the cannabis plant, such as terpenes and phytocannabinoids like CBD and THC, work better together. It’s an interaction dubbed the “entourage effect.” People exploring CBD for back pain relief may want to consider full-spectrum CBD to benefit from the entourage effect.


Always go with CBD creams made from U.S.-grown hemp. Better yet, opt for those made with natural, organic ingredients since you’ll be applying the stuff to your skin.

Many CBD topicals contain added ingredients to help soothe skin and boost pain relief effects. These include essential oils, arnica, camphor, and menthol.

Check the ingredients list to make sure you’re not allergic to anything.


Most CBD creams contain 500–2,000 mg of CBD and are intended for mild to moderate pain.

If you’re new to topical CBD or CBD in general, starting with a lower potency product may be best. That way, you can see how your body responds.

People with chronic pain may need a more potent CBD cream to feel noticeable effects.

Research shows that CBD is generally safe to use. However, it’s best to avoid CBD if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding.

CBD topicals may cause mild side effects, like:

  • changes in weight
  • changes in appetite
  • sleepiness
  • diarrhea

Don’t try to ingest topicals. Unless otherwise noted, they’re meant for external use only.

Be sure not to apply CBD cream to broken skin, and avoid mucous membranes and sensitive areas like your eyes.

It’s also important to patch test the cream by applying a small dab to the inside of your wrist or forearm. If you experience any irritation, don’t use it elsewhere.

CBD and drug testing

Even though broad-spectrum CBD and CBD isolate are “THC-free,” any type of CBD product may contain trace amounts of THC.

If you get drug tested, it may be best to avoid CBD products altogether.

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It’s not likely that a topical will enter your bloodstream and produce full-body effects. However, you should still talk with your healthcare provider before using CBD products to prevent potential drug interactions.

Finally, don’t forget to do a patch test. Even natural products can cause reactions in people with sensitive skin.

While mild back pain often goes away on its own, if you’re experiencing chronic, moderate to severe pain that’s interfering with your life, it may be time to make an appointment with a doctor or other healthcare professional.

It might also be time to talk with a doctor if you:

  • have pain that gets progressively worse
  • experience weakness in your legs
  • feel numbness in your lower extremities
  • have sciatica after an injury
  • don’t find relief with rest or home remedies

There’s plenty of anecdotal evidence suggesting CBD cream is effective for back pain.

Clinical studies specific to back pain and topical CBD are limited, but some small studies suggest CBD in general can improve pain, and that topical CBD products in particular are beneficial for reducing pain in some people.

More research in humans is needed to learn more.

Any CBD product has the potential to help with back pain. However, some CBD topicals contain added ingredients like menthol or arnica. These produce cooling or warming sensations and have pain-relieving qualities of their own.

You can typically apply topical CBD products as needed for back pain relief. However, it’s important to follow the manufacturer’s directions for use.

More research is needed to know if CBD can help with back pain, especially chronic, severe forms of back pain. However, anecdotally, people seem to have a lot of success with topical CBD products for all kinds of pain.

To increase your chances of success with CBD, pick a high potency, full-spectrum product with quality, organic ingredients. Carefully weigh the pros and cons of each product, and choose one based on your individual needs.

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% THC legal at the federal level. However, CBD products containing more than 0.3% THC still fall under the legal definition of marijuana, making them illegal at the federal level. Some states have legalized CBD, so 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.