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People use cannabidiol (CBD) for a lot of reasons, including pain relief. This compound found in cannabis plants is a cannabinoid similar to tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), but it doesn’t get you “high.”

While research into the benefits of CBD is ongoing, what we know so far is promising. Evidence suggests that CBD may help with chronic pain and neuropathy. This may be good news if you have carpal tunnel syndrome, a condition caused by compression of the median nerve in your hand.

In this article, we look at the research on CBD for carpal tunnel syndrome and list some expertly vetted CBD picks you might want to try.

CBD glossary

Several types of CBD are available. Here’s a breakdown of each:

  • CBD isolate: Some products contain pure CBD, also known as CBD isolate. This contains only CBD and no other substances from the cannabis plant.
  • Broad-spectrum CBD: This type of CBD contains most cannabinoids from the cannabis plant without any THC. These products should also include other cannabis compounds, like flavonoids and terpenes.
  • Full-spectrum CBD: Products labeled full-spectrum contain all cannabinoids from the cannabis plant, including low levels of THC (less than 0.3% for hemp-derived products). They also include terpenes and flavonoids.

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition in which there is pressure on the median nerve in the wrist and hand. Symptoms include numbness, tingling, and pain in your fingers and hand.

The median nerve runs from your upper arm down through your wrist and hand. On its way, it passes through the carpal tunnel. When the carpal tunnel narrows, which can happen from repetitive use, pregnancy, or when you put your wrist in an overly flexed position, it puts pressure on the median nerve and reduces its blood supply.

No specific research has been done on CBD for carpal tunnel syndrome, but research has taken place relating to CBD for pain and neuropathy. And since carpal tunnel syndrome involves nerve pain, CBD may help.

Neuropathic pain

One 2020 study, for example, suggests that CBD oil applied topically can help with neuropathy.

The participant pool was relatively small, with just 29 people in total. Still, a significant portion of the participants using CBD reported a reduction in severe pain. Compared with the control group, they also reported a reduction in neuropathy-related sensations, like cold and itching.

A 2018 research review shows that medical cannabis may help with the symptoms of neuropathy. However, it’s important to point out that cannabis also contains THC, which may contribute to pain relief.

According to the review authors, evidence suggests cannabis may help with neuropathic pain. But they also explained that the existing studies had short durations and were limited by small participant pools. They concluded that more research is needed, especially into the potential long-term effects of medical cannabis use.

CBD may also help with chemotherapy-related neuropathy. A 2017 animal study suggests that CBD lowers pain levels in mice with neuropathy but doesn’t prevent it from happening in the first place. However, the research also suggests that CBD may work best when combined with THC rather than used on its own.

Chronic pain

Some people also claim that CBD helps with chronic pain, and research suggests that there’s merit to these claims.

One 2019 study found that CBD reduced pain levels in people with fibromyalgia by more than 30%. This was another relatively small study, with just 20 participants.

A 2020 review of this and other studies points out that the potential pain-relieving qualities of CBD are condition-specific. And while CBD may help with some types of pain, it may not provide universal pain relief.

For example, one 2021 randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial involving 136 people with hand osteoarthritis or psoriatic arthritis found that both the placebo group and the CBD groups experienced similar levels of pain reduction. The study suggests that CBD did not have any significant effect on pain intensity for either type of arthritis.

All this to say, more research is needed on how exactly CBD affects carpal tunnel. It may be worth trying since some people have experienced pain relief while using CBD.

Although the exact mechanism of action isn’t yet known, we do know that CBD acts on the endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS helps maintain balance in the body’s organs and systems. Problems with this system contribute to a number of inflammatory and pain conditions.

One way CBD might help with painful conditions like carpal tunnel is by providing an anti-inflammatory effect. Reducing inflammation may ease some of the pressure on the median nerve.

A 2019 research review suggests that CBD has an anti-nociceptive effect, meaning it helps reduce our perception of pain. Even though the pain is still there, we don’t feel it was much.

When shopping for CBD, you’ll find it comes in many forms. You can choose from:

If you’re looking for a product to help with carpal tunnel syndrome, you may want to try a topical you can apply directly to the affected area. Topicals tend to work quicker than edibles, so they might be a good choice if you’re looking for instant pain relief.

Ingested products are another option. These are taken orally and typically provide full-body effects, so they should work for general pain relief, too. However, they may take longer to kick in than topical products.

Research suggests that CBD works best with THC for neuropathic-type pain. That means that a full-spectrum product is probably the best choice for dealing with carpal tunnel-related discomfort.

One study on CBD for peripheral neuropathy specifies that participants were treated topically with a formula containing 250 milligrams (mg) of CBD per 3 fluid ounce (fl. oz.). Although the study was small, this may mean that lower potency CBD products are suitable when treating pain topically.

We chose these products based on criteria we think are good indicators of safety, quality, and transparency. Each product in this article:

  • is made by a company that provides proof of third-party testing by an ISO 17025-compliant lab
  • is made with U.S.-grown hemp
  • contains no more than 0.3% THC, according to the certificate of analysis (COA)
  • passes tests for pesticides, heavy metals, and molds, according to the COA

As a part of our selection process, we also considered:

  • the company’s certifications and manufacturing processes
  • product potency
  • overall ingredients
  • indicators of user trust and brand reputation, such as:

Pricing guide

  • $ = under $50
  • $$ = $50–$100
  • $$$ = over $100

Best full-spectrum CBD oil for carpal tunnel

CBDistillery Full Spectrum CBD Oil Tincture

  • Price: $$$
  • CBD type: full-spectrum
  • CBD potency: 5,000 mg per 30-milliliter (mL) bottle
  • COA: available on product page

This oil from CBDistillery is a good option for people who need a stronger product that doesn’t contain any genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

And despite the steep price tag, customers think the potent oil is worth it. Some even say they’ve used it for several years with success.

Still, if you aren’t happy with your purchase, CBDistillery offers a 60-day money-back guarantee on their CBD products.

Use code “healthline” for 20% off.

Pros

  • contains no GMOs
  • third-party lab tested
  • a small amount goes a long way

Cons

  • expensive, at $240 a bottle
  • results may vary from person to person
  • carries a warning that some ingredients may increase the risk of birth defects

Best CBD isolate oil for carpal tunnel

Lazarus Naturals THC Free CBD Oil Tincture

  • Price: $
  • CBD type: isolate
  • CBD potency: 750 mg per bottle
  • COA: available on product page

This oil is a good choice if you want to avoid THC. It’s also flavorless, making it a good pick for people who want the freedom to mix their CBD oil into food or drinks. Each dropper contains about 50 mg of CBD isolate.

Lazarus Naturals also has a rewards program for frequent shoppers and an assistance program for veterans, people with disabilities, and low-income households.

Pros

  • THC-free
  • no hemp taste
  • third-party tested for potency, pesticides, and heavy metals

Cons

  • contains tree nuts (coconut)
  • not recommended for people taking medications with a grapefruit warning
  • small bottle

Best CBD salve for carpal tunnel

Joy Organics Organic CBD Salve

  • Price: $$
  • CBD type: broad-spectrum
  • CBD potency: 1,000 mg per 2-ounce (oz.) container
  • COA: available on product page

Joy Organics Organic CBD Salve is a potent topical that contains CBD and ingredients like beeswax and eucalyptus oil to help moisturize skin. The broad-spectrum product is a good choice for people who prefer to stay away from THC but still want the benefits of other cannabinoids and terpenes.

Reviewers say the product helps with joint pain and stiffness. However, one customer notes that the consistency is a bit thick and tough to work into the skin.

The brand offers free carbon-neutral shipping and is part of the U.S. Hemp Roundtable. Their products are also cruelty-free.

Use code “healthcbd” for 20% off.

Pros

  • THC-free
  • rubs into the skin
  • free carbon-neutral shipping

Cons

  • thick consistency that can be difficult to spread
  • hard to get out of the jar
  • messy to apply

Best CBD balm for carpal tunnel

TheraOne by Theragun Revive CBD Body Balm

  • Price: $$
  • CBD type: full-spectrum
  • CBD potency: 500 mg per 1-oz. container
  • COA: available on product page

Theragun, the company behind the massage gun for athletes, has now entered the CBD market with a line called TheraOne. This balm contains a blend of cooling menthol, essential oils, and turmeric.

Ingredients are also certified organic by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and are cruelty-free. The brand recommends using a pea-size amount and reapplying as needed.

TheraOne uses hemp sourced from organic farms in Colorado.

Pros

  • USDA-certified organic and cruelty-free
  • independently tested by a third-party lab for purity and potency
  • sustainably grown

Cons

  • small container
  • may not be safe for people who are pregnant or have certain medical conditions

The way you use CBD for your carpal tunnel syndrome depends on the type of product you choose:

  • You can take gummies or capsules by mouth.
  • You can place oils under your tongue or add to food or drinks.
  • You can add CBD oil to body lotions and creams.

Using a topical product involves rubbing it directly on the area that’s causing you trouble. In the case of carpal tunnel syndrome, that’s probably your hand or wrist.

Dosage varies from person to person. Generally, it’s a good idea to start with a low dose and work your way up. That way, you can see how CBD affects you before you take more.

Pros of CBD for carpal tunnel

  • Useful for targeting pain: You can apply topical CBD directly to areas that are causing you trouble, such as wrist pain when dealing with carpal tunnel syndrome.
  • Easy to use: CBD edibles and topical creams and lotions don’t require much of a learning curve to use.
  • Produces few side effects: CBD is relatively safe and unlikely to cause serious side effects in most people. Just make sure to talk with a doctor if you’re trying CBD for the first time.
  • Various potency options: CBD products come in a variety of potencies to suit beginners to CBD pros.

Cons of CBD for carpal tunnel

  • Possible allergic reaction: This is especially true when using topical products like salves, lotions, and creams. It’s best to perform a patch test to check for signs of irritation before applying CBD to an entire area of your body.
  • No specific carpal tunnel research: As of yet, no studies specifically look at CBD for carpal tunnel syndrome.

When picking a CBD product, look at the following:

Potency

People with chronic pain may find a higher potency product works best. Because your skin doesn’t absorb CBD very easily, topical products should contain at least 3 mg of CBD per mL of product.

CBD type

CBD isolate, broad-spectrum, or full-spectrum. Which is the best choice?

Isolates are a great pick if you want to avoid THC in your CBD product. But without all the terpenes and other cannabinoids from the cannabis plant, isolates may not be as effective. Additionally, it’s important to keep in mind that any CBD product may contain trace amounts of THC, no matter the type.

You’ll likely get the best results with a full-spectrum product, thanks to the entourage effect. That’s because CBD and THC probably work better together than alone.

Third-party testing

There’s no guarantee that over-the-counter (OTC) CBD products are safe and effective. Currently, the FDA doesn’t vet these products like they do prescription medications.

And without a watchful eye, some companies may take the opportunity to make misleading claims about their CBD products.

So it’s essential to check that a product has been tested by a third-party lab and has a valid COA. The COA will tell you exactly how much CBD and THC are in your product. A COA will also verify that your product has passed tests for contaminants.

Ingredients

When possible, opt for CBD made with organic, U.S.-grown hemp. If you’re buying a topical, carefully read the list of ingredients to check for potential skin irritants.

Most quality CBD products are considered safe, according to a report from the World Health Organization. Still, some people experience side effects, including:

  • fatigue
  • weight loss or gain
  • appetite changes
  • diarrhea

In most cases, these effects are mild.

CBD may also interact with certain medications, especially those with a grapefruit warning.

In general, it’s a good idea to talk with a healthcare professional before using CBD.

If you don’t want to take CBD or find it’s not working for you, other treatment options for carpal tunnel syndrome include:

  • splinting
  • avoiding activities that worsen your symptoms
  • OTC medications like nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs
  • prescription medications
  • surgery

Even if CBD is helping your carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms, you may want to consider other options for finding relief and support.

Always talk with a doctor before trying at-home treatments. Carpal tunnel syndrome can sometimes be a symptom of an underlying condition like rheumatoid arthritis.

If you’ve tried CBD and aren’t finding relief or your symptoms are getting worse, contact a doctor for an evaluation.

Can CBD really help with carpal tunnel?

There’s currently no available research specifically relating to CBD for carpal tunnel. But relevant research on CBD for neuropathy and other ailments like arthritis and fibromyalgia suggests that CBD may be helpful for certain types of pain.

Is a topical or an ingestible CBD oil better for carpal tunnel?

Because carpal tunnel typically produces pain in a specific area, a topical may be a better option for targeted relief. That said, some people like to take CBD orally and prefer the full-body effects.

What are some other natural remedies for carpal tunnel?

Some natural remedies for carpal tunnel include taking frequent breaks from repetitive activities like typing, wearing a wrist splint, avoiding the cold, and performing stretching exercises to reduce stiffness. During flare-ups, you may also consider taking OTC pain medication.

While there’s no direct research on the benefits of CBD for carpal tunnel syndrome, evidence suggests that it may help with neuropathy-related pain.

And although CBD won’t be a magical solution for your symptoms, it may help give you some relief. Just be sure to talk with a doctor about your carpal tunnel syndrome pain and discomfort before trying CBD.

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.


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.