Aromatherapy for Back Pain

Do you suffer from back pain?

Many people experience back pain on a regular or occasional basis.

Back pain results in a lot of sick days, reliance on painkillers and people unable to get on with common daily tasks.

Chronic back pain can be debilitating and depressing.

Your back pain will commonly occur in the lower lumbar area, mid thoracic area or upper back – neck and shoulder area. 

It can involve the bones and joints, soft tissue and fascia. 

It might be due to an injury, a structural imbalance, a condition you were born with, a pathology you have developed, poor posture, repetitive strain from your job or lifestyle (ie driving, standing all day, working at a computer for long hours), stiffness in the joints, general muscular tension due to stress, lack of exercise (poor muscle tone), poor diet (ie mineral deficiencies)
 or be unexplained.

Most people with chronic back pain have a combination of factors that contribute to their back pain, and the stress of living with the pain only makes them feel worse. 

Aromatherapy can help! 

There are several essential oils that are useful that can be diluted and blended together and used in 

  • massage 
  • compress
  • baths 
  • therapeutic creams/gels. 

 Aromatherapy can be used succesfully alongside other approaches to back pain such as myofascial release, trigger point and deep tissue massage, carefully chosen strengthening/ stretching exercise, osteopathy, chiropractic, acupuncture, physiotherapy, pilates, yoga etc….
Some useful properties of some essential oils in relation to back pain:

Analgesic – pain relieving 
Rubifacient – warming and increase blood flow
Anti-inflammatory – alleviate inflammation
Antispasmodic – prevents and eases spasm and relieves cramps
Relaxant – aids relaxation of the mind and body 
Antirheumatic – helps relieve rheumatism
Some essential oils to consider:

Lavender (Lavandula angustofolia) 

Soothing oil good for general aches and pains, strains and sprains, arthritis and rheumatism. Can be blended effectively with a variety of different oils according to the nature of the back pain.  
Lavandula latifolia is more energising than true lavender and needs to be used with caution but is excellent in blends for back pain. 

Sweet Marjoram (Origanum marjorana)

Warming, restorative oil that helps muscles relax. Good for muscular pains, strains and sprains, rheumatism, arthritis and over exertion. Works well with more soothing oils such as Lavender, Bergamot, Chamomile Roman for tight muscles or as an evening application. Also works well with more invigorating and rubefacient oils such as Rosemary, Ginger, Black Pepper for a stronger blend. 

Peppermint (Mentha piperata)

 Peppermint is particularly useful when you want to cool an inflamed area in a gel, perhaps with Lavender and German Chamomile. Where there is muscle fatigue, Peppermint can be used with Rosemary or Eucalyptus  pre or post exercise to alleviate aching and pain. 

Rosemary (Rosemarinus officinalis) or Eualyptus Globulus
These are invigorating, warming oils, analgesic oils that increase circulation and help bring blood to the affected area. Good to use for low back pain and when the pain is worse for cold, damp weather. Work well with small amounts of the spice oils such as Ginger, Black Pepper, Nutmeg and also Plai. 

Black Pepper (Piper nigrum)
Hot and stimulating, Black Pepper oil has a deeply warming effect and is very useful for muscular aches and pains and stiffness. Black Pepper needs to be well diluted and may cause irritation on sensitive skin or in a hot bath. Ginger (zingiber officinale) is also useful. 
Bergamot (Citrus bergamia)
Begamot is useful to include in any blends where stress and tension are affecting the muscles. Stress can lead to patterns of tension, commonly in the shoulders. By helping to release stress and bring better balance, Bergamot helps muscular tension. Fantastic combined with Lavender and Clary Sage in a salt evening bath. 

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