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If you’re looking for a pain relief cream to help your achy back, you may be interested in one that contains cannabidiol (CBD).

This chemical compound comes from the cannabis plant — yes, the same plant that produces tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Unlike THC, CBD doesn’t produce a “high” effect. But it does show promise for relieving inflammation and pain.

Keep in mind that, while research suggests CBD may help with pain in general, one product isn’t necessarily better than the rest for managing back pain specifically. The ideal strategy is to pick a quality CBD product.

Unfortunately, because the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn’t regulate CBD products in the same way as they do prescription medications, there are many CBD products on the market that aren’t up to par.

To help you wade through them, we’re highlighting some of the best options available. We’ll also give you some pointers on what to look for when shopping for CBD and how to use it for back pain.

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 a 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.

Pricing guide

  • $ = under $45
  • $$ = $45–$65
  • $$$ = over $65

Best broad-spectrum

CBDfx Muscle & Joint Cream, Cooling Formula

CBDfx Muscle & Joint Cream, Cooling Formula
  • Price: $–$$$
  • CBD type: broad-spectrum
  • CBD potency: 500 mg, 1,000 mg, or 3,000 mg per 50-mL container
  • COA: available on product page

This cream from CBDfx is made with a cooling formula that contains menthol. It also has naturally pain-relieving white willow bark and caffeine.

The formula is suitable for vegans. Since it’s made with broad-spectrum CBD, it’s also a good option for those looking to avoid THC.

However, it’s good to keep in mind that any CBD product — regardless of the type of CBD it’s made with — may contain trace amounts of THC.


  • available in multiple potencies
  • vegan-friendly
  • contains additional pain-relieving ingredients


  • container is small
  • some reviewers say it needs to be used frequently for adequate pain relief
  • cooling sensation may be too much for some

Use code “HEALTHLINE” for 20% off.

Best CBD isolate

Medterra Pain Relief Cream

Medterra Pain Relief Cream
  • Price: $–$$
  • CBD type: isolate
  • CBD potency: 500 or 1,000 mg per 50.3 mL container
  • COA: available online

This Medterra pain cream is made with CBD isolate. That means it contains only CBD and no other parts of the cannabis plant.

In addition to this pure form of CBD, the cream is made with pain-relief ingredients, like arnica and menthol. It also contains soothing essential oils, like peppermint, and jojoba oil to help hydrate skin.

Medterra has a rewards program for loyal customers and allows you to bundle products to save money. The company also has several assistance programs that make products more affordable for military veterans, active military duty personnel, and people with disabilities.


  • also contains arnica and menthol
  • hydrating formula
  • brand offers assistance programs


  • some reviewers say it’s not effective
  • not everyone loves the strong scent
  • small container

Use code “health15” for 15% off.

Best cooling

Aspen Green Muscle Relief Cooling Cream

aspen green cbn cream back pain
  • Price: $$$
  • CBD type: full-spectrum
  • CBD potency: 1,000 mg per 60-mL container
  • COA: available on product page

This muscle relief cream from Aspen Green has a cooling effect to help ease discomfort. This is thanks to the menthol.

The cream also contains a variety of terpenes, which are aromatic compounds naturally found in cannabis. These include eucalyptol and bisabolol. According to an in-vitro 2014 study, bisabolol may help reduce skin inflammation.

In addition to CBD, the cream contains arnica, which may help with pain, and tea tree oil, which may help with inflammation.

To help make this cream more accessible, Aspen Green has several assistance programs for military personnel, medical professionals, teachers, students, and low-income households.


  • soothing cooling effect
  • also contains skin-soothing ingredients
  • financial assistance available for some customers


  • only available in one potency option

Best full-spectrum

FABCBD Topical Cream

FAB CBD Topical Cream
  • Price: $$
  • CBD type: full-spectrum
  • CBD potency: 600 mg per 56-g container
  • COA: available online

The FAB CBD Topical CBD Cream has a pleasant blood orange scent that reviewers seem to love. The COA shows that it’s high in the terpene d-limonene, which has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.

It contains hydrating ingredients, like coconut oil, cocoa butter, and aloe vera.


  • smells great
  • antibacterial and anti-inflammatory ingredients
  • also moisturizes the skin


  • only available in a single potency
  • doesn’t last long, according to some reviewers
  • takes time to kick in

Use code “HEALTHLINE” for 20% off your first purchase.

Best organic

Joy Organics Premium CBD Sports Cream

Joy Organics Premium CBD Sports Cream
  • Price: $
  • CBD type: broad-spectrum
  • CBD potency: 1,000 mg per 118-mL container
  • COA: available on product page

This cooling cream from Joy Organics is made with many organic ingredients. For additional pain relief, the formula contains both menthol and camphor.

The company says people should feel the effects of the cream within 15 to 20 minutes of use.

Joy Organics offers a rewards program and discounts for veterans, first responders, teachers, medical personnel, and anyone else who may need financial assistance.


  • delivers a cooling sensation
  • budget-friendly
  • rewards program available


  • low potency
  • strong scent

Use code “healthcbd” for 15% off.

Best trial-size

TheraOne Recover CBD Lotion

TheraOne Recover CBD Lotion
  • Price: $
  • CBD type: full-spectrum
  • CBD potency: 150 mg per 1-oz package
  • COA: available online

If you’re new to and wary of trying CBD for back pain, consider a trial-size product, like this lotion from TheraOne.

The formula is made with Colorado-farmed USDA Certified Organic CBD and also contains soothing essential oils, including eucalyptus, peppermint, and arnica oil.

TheraOne has an auto-ship program for those who want to make sure they never run low on their favorite CBD lotion or product. Military and first responders are also eligible for a discount.


  • good option for people new to CBD
  • great for travel
  • contains organic ingredients


  • won’t last long
  • low potency

Best high potency

Just Live CBD Pain Relief Cream

Just Live CBD Pain Relief Cream
  • Price: $$$
  • CBD type: broad-spectrum
  • CBD potency: 1,500 mg per 50-mL package (also available in 300 and 750 mg)
  • COA: available on product page

If a low potency product doesn’t cut it for your back pain, this high potency product boasts a whopping 1,500 mg of CBD per container. The easy-to-use dispenser design delivers 10.5 mg of CBD per pump.

The formula also contains anti-inflammatory ingredients, like arnica, menthol, and camphor.

The brand uses non-GMO, U.S.-grown hemp and offers a host of special discounts for military personnel and veterans, first responders, medical professionals, teachers, students, older adults, commercial drivers, non-profit employees and owners, union members, people with disabilities, low-income households, and real estate agents.


  • high potency
  • contains added pain-relieving ingredients
  • subscribe-and-save option


  • expensive

ProductCBD typePriceCBD potency
Best broad-spectrum: CBDfx Muscle & Joint Cream, Cooling Formulabroad-spectrum$–$$$500, 1,000, or 3,000 mg
Best isolate: Medterra Pain Relief Creamisolate$–$$500 or 1,000 mg
Best cooling cream: Aspen Green Muscle Relief Cooling Creamfull-spectrum$$$1,000 mg
Best full-spectrum: FABCBD Topical Creamfull-spectrum$$600 mg
Best organic: Joy Organics Premium CBD Sports Creambroad-spectrum$1,000 mg
Best trial size: TheraOne Recover CBD Lotionfull-spectrum$150 mg
Best high potency: Just Live CBD Pain Relief Creambroad-spectrum$$$1,500 mg


  • May help reduce inflammation and pain: Keep in mind that research is ongoing, and CBD might not affect everyone the same.
  • No risk for 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 reduce pain levels.


  • 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 doesn’t mean this alternative treatment will necessarily work for you.

Research suggests CBD can help reduce pain and inflammation.

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

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

CBD works on the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS).

Your skin, like other parts of your body, contains endocannabinoid receptors. Your body also naturally produces endocannabinoids, which interact with the ECS to produce effects such as pain relief — depending on the receptor in question.

Because cannabinoids, like CBD, are similar to naturally produced endocannabinoids, they may also produce similar effects, such as pain relief and anti-inflammation.

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.

CBD might help relieve your back pain, but you’ll have to sort through products to weed out the bad ones. Here’s what to consider when shopping for a topical CBD product.

CBD source

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

Isolates don’t contain THC or cannabinoids other than CBD. They’re ideal if you want to avoid THC altogether.

Broad-spectrum products don’t contain THC, but they have most cannabis plant compounds, including terpenes.

Full-spectrum CBD products contain all parts of the cannabis plant, like terpenes, flavonoids, and cannabinoids. This includes a small amount of THC. There’s evidence that CBD and THC work better together, an interaction dubbed the entourage effect.

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.


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, and menthol.

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


If you’re new to CBD, starting off with a low potency product might be best. However, some people with chronic pain might need a more potent topical to feel any noticeable effects.

Third-party testing

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

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 results for pesticide, mold, and heavy metal testing.

Using a CBD cream is fairly simple. While you should always follow the directions on the packaging, you’ll generally apply it directly to the affected area.

However, be sure not to apply it to broken skin, and avoid mucous membranes and sensitive areas like your eyes.

It’s 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.

Some CBD creams come in a dispenser, and each pump delivers a specific amount of CBD. Even with a semi-accurate pump mechanism, it can be tough to figure out how much CBD is in a dollop of cream.

If you’re new to CBD, start with a small amount of a low potency product.

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.

It’s not likely that a topical will enter your bloodstream and produce full-body effects. However, you should still talk with your doctor 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.

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

What CBD products help with back pain?

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

How much CBD cream should you use for back pain?

Start with a small amount, about the same amount you would use for a non-CBD topical. Most manufacturers will provide dosage recommendations that you can follow.

Do doctors recommend CBD cream for back pain?

While research suggests that topical CBD may help with pain, including back pain. It’s a good idea to work with a doctor to find the best treatment option for you. Many doctors wouldn’t recommend treating the symptom without addressing the underlying cause.

How long does it take for CBD cream to help with back pain?

It can take up to 45 minutes to feel the effects of CBD cream. But timing varies from person to person. Many people find they have to reapply frequently to experience continued relief.

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. However, 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.

Steph Coelho is a freelance writer with chronic migraine who has a particular interest in health and wellness. When she’s not click-clacking away on her keyboard, she’s probably nose-deep in a good book.