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Decoding Back Pain: Is It Muscle or Disc? Plus, CBD Solutions

Decoding Back Pain: Is It Muscle or Disc? Plus, CBD Solutions

Whether your back pain is sudden or chronic, it can be debilitating, especially if you don’t know the cause.

Some of the most common reasons for back pain are muscle strains and disc problems.

We’ll explore how to tell between these types of back pains and how CBD might be able to help you get some relief.

Want to skip to the good stuff? Find the CBD solution to your back pain here.

How to Tell If Back Pain Is Muscle or Disc

The easiest way to tell muscle vs. disc pain is its location. For example, if you have lower back pain, it’s typically assumed to be a disc problem — your spinal disc lies at the bottom of your back.

In addition, the pain will also feel different. Disc pain is typically tingly and debilitating, while muscle pain feels more like soreness.

Related: Natural Relief for Forearm Soreness

An elderly man bending over at the beach

Is It Back Muscle Pain?

The primary back muscles help keep the shoulders, core, and lower back stable. These muscles are all connected, meaning muscle pain can feel like it goes throughout your entire back or body.

Soreness occurs when you stress the muscles (like during a workout). Your muscle fibers start breaking down, resulting in pain and soreness. However, this also means that when they repair themselves, your muscle fibers become healthier and stronger.

But that repairing process isn’t always the source of muscle pain. If you overstrain your muscles, you can tear those fibers, causing significant pain and injury — common in the lower back and shoulders.

Muscle soreness is typical after exercising, but if the pain persists, it’s likely a muscle strain or serious injury.

Is It Back Disk Pain?

Underneath our spine, there’s an elastic-like muscle called the spinal disc. This flat, round disc helps us with our range of motion and stability; pain happens when this disc slips out of place.

The most common causes are heavy lifting and aging.

When a “disc slips,” it can even cause nerve damage, creating numbness, pain, tingling, and immobility. While our back can heal itself, much like the rest of our body, a slipped disc can lead to permanent damage, causing chronic pain.

Signs of a Strained Back Muscle

Muscle strains hurt. However, before determining a treatment plan, you have to figure out if your pain is due to a strained muscle. There are four telltale signs of a back muscle strain:

Sudden, Severe Pain

When you tear or overstretch your muscles, you’ll likely notice:

  • Sudden pain
  • Swelling or bruising
  • Weakness
  • Worsening pain with use
  • Decreased range of motion

Sudden stabbing pains, especially when bending or sitting, is likely a strained back muscle.

Radiating Pain

While strained muscles can result in localized pain, it’s common for it to radiate throughout your back. However, if your pain runs down into your leg(s), it could be a herniated disc or sciatica.

Muscle Spasms

Another sign of strained muscles is muscle spasms — a type of cramp associated with involuntary movements and pain. Unfortunately, these spasms cause even more pain to your muscle strain.


Most muscle injuries, including sprains, lead to inflammation, making them feel tight and stiff. Icing the muscle immediately after injuring it can help reduce this inflammation.

Cold therapy helps treat swelling and inflammation; heat therapy reduces pain and stiffness.

Related: Treating Post-Accident Soreness

Signs of Back Disc Problems

You’ll notice different symptoms based on the severity and location of an injured disc. However, signs typically include back pain that increases with straining and numbness or tingling sensations radiating into your arms or legs if you damage nearby nerves.

Some people are more at risk for back disc problems. Common risk factors include:

  • Sedentariness
  • Obesity
  • Smoking
  • Aging
  • Poor posture
  • Heavy lifting
  • Diabetes

Disc Strain

You can strain a disc the same way you strain any other muscle. Repetitive strains (like heavy lifting) can cause significant pain, irritation, and inflammation.

Degenerative Disc Disease

When we’re young, our discs are filled with fluid and well-hydrated. However, that water content reduces as we age, turning our discs thinner and harder. This process can increase friction between bones, causing growths called bone spurs.

Degenerative disc disease doesn’t always cause issues, but it can lead to pain that’s aggravated by prolonged sitting or activity. This back pain is common in older people.

Disc Protrusion

Also called a “slipped disc,” disc protrusion happens when a small area in the disc’s outer shell weakens — it doesn’t literally slip out of place. Our discs are held in place firmly by muscles and ligaments.

However, when this weakening happens, the fluid inside the disc can leak out, causing altered nerve function (tingling, numbness, etc.) and nerve pain that radiates into the lower limbs.

Disc protrusions most often happen in the lower back, causing lower back pain that radiates into the legs. However, we are at less risk of disc protrusion as we age; our discs dry out, making leaks less likely.


Sciatica pain is caused by our sciatic nerve, commonly radiating from the spine to the sole of the foot. It’s also associated with a pin-and-needles sensation.

Disc protrusion can lead to sciatica — a bulging disc can prevent spinal nerves from sliding up and down the spinal column as your body moves. And if the disc has a leak, as we discussed above, it can lead to localized inflammation and irritation.

A woman taking CBD oil


CBD Solutions To Relieve Your Back Pain

Many researchers spend their time studying CBD’s health benefits, including its potential to relieve back pain. One of the biggest factors affecting chronic back pain is inflammation, and CBD can help reduce it.

CBD topicals, like our natural muscle cream, are even more effective for treating back pain.

Other than reducing pain and inflammation, CBD can also help combat anxiety associated with chronic conditions and aid in getting a better night’s rest — all of which can help with back pain.

Ready to experience relief from your back pain? Whether you choose a CBD cream, tincture, or edible, we have what you need.

Choosing the Right CBD Products for Your Back Pain

As with any treatment, what works for someone else might not work for you. That’s why starting with high-quality, ethically sourced CBD is important.

All of our CBD products come from 100% natural hemp plants grown in organic conditions on Trichome Farms in Oregon.

The best relief starts with the best products.

Related: What Is CBD?