You must be familiar with a sharp, stabbing pain in your back after hours of work at your desk.
Back pain seems to be a never-ending medical complaint at present. In the U.S.A. alone more than 31 million people struggle with back pain issues annually. (2)
The effects of lower back pain can be mild to severe depending on the various underlying causes. Both men and women may experience back pain. But it is evident that women are more vulnerable to suffer from it. Postural problems are the primary triggers for developing a back pain. A bad or abnormal posture may put added pressure on your spine and back. Back pain symptoms are the most acute when you are overweight and at your 30’s. (4) Acute back pain may trouble you for 4-12 weeks. If you develop a chronic back pain, it may last for a year. Hence, back pain is the most common reason for missed working days globally. (5)
In the U.S.A. 13 million people go for medical check-ups and treatments for back pain symptoms and spend up to 50 billion dollars annually. Some of these expansive traditional medical therapies include; soft tissue therapy, systematic physical exercise, chiropractic care, etc. (6)
That’s why, in the recent times, people are turning towards natural options for relieving the symptoms of back pain.
The analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties in some essential oils may be effective home remedies for upper back pain relief naturally. These herbal oils can provide immediate relief from the pain and discomfort of both acute and chronic back pain.
This article reviews the efficacy and uses of essential oils for back pain, plus the symptoms, risk factors, and preventions tips for lower back pain.
10 Best Essential Oils for Back Pain Relief and How to Use Them
1.Lavender Essential Oil
Lavender oil comes from the evergreen plant lavender. It is a native of Northern Africa. This favorite herbal oil is well known for a host of medicinal properties. Lavender oil is traditionally famous for relieving stress, anxiety, hyperactivity, fatigue, and restlessness.
From ancient time onwards this essential oil has been a potent remedy for various aches and pains, neurological and skin disorders.
This sweet-scented herbal oil is rich in anti-spasmodic and analgesic properties to relieve the pain and discomforts of your spinal region. The anti-inflammatory compounds of the oil can reduce the swellings associated with the pain as well. (8)
You can gently massage 3-4 drops of undiluted lavender oil on your back twice daily. Lavender oil is relatively safer than other essential oils when you use it directly on your skin. In case of allergic symptoms, you may dilute the oil with a carrier oil.
Related: Lavender Oil for Hair Problems : 5 Ways to Use It
2. Chamomile Essential Oil
Chamomile oil comes from the flowers of the perennial herb- chamomile. There are two kinds of chamomile essential oils. They are Roman chamomile and German chamomile oil. Roman chamomile oil smells better and blends oil with other essential oils.
However, both the verities of chamomile oil have potent analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects against back pain.
Especially the German chamomile oil has a wide array of medicinal uses. Along with a high level of anti-inflammatory properties, this oil also contains anti-spasmodic, antimicrobial, analgesic, carminative, antidepressant, tonic, antibiotic, and, antiseptic compounds.
German chamomile oil can relieve the muscle contractions, reduce the swellings and inflammatory pains. (9)
Chamomile oil is a potent anti-depressant agent. A massage with this oil can provide you a sound sleep at night.
You can mix 3-4 drops of chamomile oil with a carrier oil such as almond, jojoba, coconut oil, etc. and rub it on your back for 15 minutes. Repeat the process twice a day for a quick remedy of your back pain.
3. Peppermint Essential Oil
Peppermint oil has extensive use in cosmetic and medical industries. Among a host of therapeutic components, it contains decongestant, anti-spasmodic, anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins, and antifungal properties. (10)
The high menthol compound of peppermint oil gives a soothing and refreshing feel to this oil. If you topically apply this oil, it can boost the blood circulation and prevent the contractions and tightness of muscles. (11)
You can add 4-5 drops of peppermint oil with a carrier oil and massage the blend on your affected area. The process will bring immediate relief from the back pain caused by inflammation, minor injury or strain.
4. Rosemary Essential Oil
Woodsy and citrusy fragrant rosemary essential oil comes from the leaves of rosemary plants. Rosemary plant has many important uses in the Mediterranean region. (12)
Rosemary essential oil is rich in anti-inflammatory, analgesic, antispasmodic, sedative, and expectorant properties. These beneficial components make rosemary oil a potent agent to fight fibromyalgia and arthritis pain. Especially the rosmirinic acid in this herbal oil is an antioxidant to manage your back pain.
You can mix 5 drops of peppermint oil with a tablespoon of coconut oil and rub well on your back. Allow the oil blend to get absorbed into the skin thoroughly. Repeat the treatment twice daily for a speedy recovery from the pain.
5. Eucalyptus Essential Oil
Warming and of pungent fragrance eucalyptus essential oil comes from the leaves and bark of the eucalyptus tree. The two primary chemical compounds in this aromatic herbal oil are alpha-terpineol and eucalyptol.
These compounds are full of anti-inflammatory, antifungal, antiseptic, and analgesic properties. (13)
Eucalyptus oil is one of the best analgesic essential oils for relieving back pain.
The soothing effects of eucalyptus oil can efficiently manage the aches and pains of your lower back and muscle stiffness.
Dilute a few drops of eucalyptus oil with coconut oil and gently massage on your spinal region to relieve the pain.
6. Marjoram Essential oil
Marjoram essential oil originates from the perennial herb marjoram of Mediterranean region. The essential oil is a rich source of health-promoting components.
The warming and soothing effects of this herbal oil can improve the circulation and bring down blood pressure.
The high level of analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties of the oil can reduce muscle tightness, pains, and aches from injury. The calming components of the oil provide relaxation of your body and mind simultaneously. (14)
Just mix 4-5 drops of marjoram oil with any of your favorite carrier oil, and you are ready for a comforting massage for your back pain.
7. Juniper Berry Essential Oil
Woodsy fragrant juniper essential oil comes from the steam distillation of the needles and berries of Juniperus osteosperma plant.
This medicinal plant is a native of Bulgaria. The sweetly flavored juniper essential oil has more than 87 active health-promoting components.
The anti-spasmodic and analgesic qualities of the oil can provide instant relief from the stabbing pain in your lower back. Juniper oil also has a reputation for being a sedative or anti-depressant agent. The oil can relax your muscles from tightness and stiffness caused by stress and anxiety. (15)
You can indulge in a rejuvenating bath with juniper essential oil for back pain relief. For the process, mix 10 drops of the oil with your warm bath water and dip in for 15 minutes.
8. Clary Sage Essential Oil
Clary sage essential oil originates from the perennial herb Salvia sclarea. This is medicinal herb native to the Mediterranean region, Africa, and central Asia.
The major chemical components of clary sage oil are alpha-terpineol, linalyl acetate, Linalool, caryophyllene, and esters. All these health-promoting ingredients give clary sage oil the anti-inflammatory, analgesic and anti-spasmodic qualities. Thus, clary sage oil works as a pain relieving tonic on your tensed muscles, ligaments, and lower back pains. (16)
You can dilute 5 drops of clary sage oil with a tablespoon of warm coconut oil to massage on your aching spinal region. Repeat the process twice daily for enjoying a healthy spinal motion.
9. Basil Essential Oil
Basil essential oil comes from the leaves of the famous kitchen herb basil or Ocimum basilicum. The medicinal values of this herbal oil are immense. The oil is the natural source of anti-inflammatory, analgesic, anti-anxiety, and many other health-promoting qualities.
The oil can relieve tension, fatigue, pain and aches accumulated inside your muscles. Basil oil has the beneficial effects of soothing both your body and mind. (17)
You can mix 4-5 drops of basil oil in a cup of warm water. Now soak a piece of cloth in the heated solution. After rinsing the fabric apply the warm compress lightly on your sore back. Continue the process for 15-20 minutes. The method brings instant relief from the back pain issues.
10. Ginger Essential Oil
Ginger is an inseparable spice of Asian cuisine. This warm and aromatic root comes from the flowering plant Zingiberaceae. Traditionally ginger has essential place in folk medicine, Ayurveda, and Unani.
In the recent times, ginger essential oil is getting attention in the health communities. It preserves all the medicinal values of ginger intact. In fact, ginger essential oil is a rich source of gingerols. This potent natural anti-inflammatory and antioxidant keep aches and pains at bay. (18)
You can add 4-5 drops of ginger oil to a tablespoon of carrier oil. Now, rub the blend on your sore lower back to relieve the pain. Repeat the process twice daily for 15 minutes every time.
Risk Factors Related to Back Pain (19)
The research at The University of Maryland Medical Center confirms some of the risk factors for developing lower back pain. These include:
- Being genetically prone to back pain
- Inflammation of the L1-L5 spinal vertebrae
- Using tobacco and smoking
- Obesity or overweight
- Anxiety and depression
- Inactive life
- Strenuous physical activities
Following are some of the conditions associated with lower back pain complaints: (3)
- Lower back and hip pain or Lumbago
- Sciatica nerve pain (pain in buttocks, thighs, and legs)
- Slipped or herniated disc in back
- Curvature of the spine or scoliosis
- Depleted kidney energy
- Pain from weak psoas muscles (abdominal, back)
- General tension/weakness
Some Common Signs of Back Pain (20)
- Stiffness, numbness and sharp pain starting from the low back down into the thighs.
- Pain and difficulties in walking, light movement, climbing, bending, standing and physical exercise.
- You may experience pain while getting up from bed in the morning.
- Standing for an extended period may further worsen the pain.
- A desk-bound work for an extended period may cause discomfort and stab pain in your tailbone.
- Muscle weakness, heaviness or numbness near the thighs and lower back.
Preventive Tips for Lowering Upper Back Pain
Apart from trying the essential oils, you can follow specific additional lifestyle tips to manage your back pain. (21)
- Foods such as dairy products, sugar, grains, and red meat increase the inflammation. Try to avoid or limit the consumption of these foods.
- There are certain healing foods that you can add to your daily meals, such as fresh fruits, green leafy vegetables, probiotics, nuts, fishes, etc. These foods are rich in calcium and help in lower back pain relief.
- Practice simple yoga postures that require stretching and moving your back and legs.
- Take a break from your desk-bound jobs after every 20-30 minutes.
- Go for relaxing back massage and therapies to soothe the pain.
- Make it a point to drink enough water throughout the day to keep the spinal discs hydrated and active.
- Modify your sleeping pattern to support your spinal region well. Use a pillow under your knees if you sleep on your back. In case you are a stomach sleeper, put a pad under your pelvis and abdomen to avoid the strain on the back.
- Never sit on the edge of the chair. Try to relax straight resting your entire back on the cushion.
Back pain is the single most common medical problem for disability. A survey concludes that up to 80% people suffer from lower back pain at some point in their lives. (1)
It is true that a lifestyle change addresses the cause of back pain in the first place. However, certain essential oils can provide you the much-needed relief from the pain and discomforts. (7)
In case the pain is paralyzing you with all its severity consult a doctor immediately.