Millions of people are currently experiencing lower back pain. If you’re one of them, you know firsthand how frustrating this condition can be. Just sitting in an office chair all day can be pain-inducing and stressful, not to mention other physical activities.
Lower back pain isn’t just prevalent – it’s costly. According to the American Chiropractic Association, lower back pain costs Americans $50 billion in health care costs every year. Ouch is right!
If you’ve tried every lower back pain remedy in the books, it may be time to try essential oils. Science now backs up the benefits of essential oils for lower back pain. In fact, studies about the role of essential oils in lower back pain are overwhelmingly positive.
What are essential oils?
If you’re hesitant about essential oils, remember that they are simply all-natural extracts from plants. These oils have medicinal properties that can naturally relieve pain, stress or other symptoms. In fact, there is evidence that essential oils reduce anxiety, fatigue, insomnia, memory loss and can help with pain management.
How do I use essential oils?
Essential oils are simple to use, but you must apply them responsibly. In general, essential oils are inhaled using a diffuser, or applied to the skin after being diluted. The biggest danger with essential oils is direct application. You must always dilute essential oils before topically applying them. Moreover, they should never been orally ingested.
Other methods for using essential oils combine a mind-body approach. For example, you can use essential oils in a hot bath for both pain relief and relaxation. In addition, chiropractors are now using essential oils during massage treatments to combine the benefits of essential oils with therapeutic touch.
To use essential oils, follow these basic steps for each method:
A diffuser. Inhaling essential oils is an easy way to feel the effects. A diffuser – whether for your car or your home – will release the essential oil over the course of 45 minutes to an hour. You can also manually inhale the essential oil by adding it to a tissue and breathing it that way.
Topically. You must always dilute essential oils before applying them to the skin. Purchase a carrier oil (coconut and almond oils are popular examples) to dilute the oil. A good rule of thumb is 1 drop of essential oil for every 12 drops of carrier oil. When you’re first starting essential oils, you can dilute the essential oil even more to test for any negative reactions. After dilution, dab the oil against the affected area.
A hot bath. Add about 6-8 drops of essential oils to your hot bath. This is a great way to relax and create a stress-free atmosphere. The combination of the steam and the essential oil will give you an ideal effect.
Massage therapy. Ask your local chiropractor about applying essential oils to your next massage therapy session. He/she can decide the best ratio of essential oils for your medical situation. Incorporating essential oils when your muscles are relaxed and flexible during massage will give you great results.
Top 7 essential oils for back pain
Essential oils are considered a natural solution for pain management. Many essential oils have properties that can reduce muscle pain, tension, swelling, soreness, spasms/cramps and inflammation. This is ideal for relieving lower back pain, which is often nonspecific and recurring. Essential oils for lower back pain are a great natural solution and have few side effects to speak of. They also promote relaxation and release stress.
Marjoram is used to reduce stress, insomnia and pain. It’s especially effective for muscle tension and may reduce spasms/cramps.
Example application: Make a hot compress using a towel and a few drops of marjoram, and apply it to your lower back.
Ginger is a well-known anti-inflammatory oil. It has a soothing quality that can reduce swelling and soreness. Studies show a significant effect in reducing lower back pain during Swedish massage.
Example application: Schedule an appointment with your massage therapist to use ginger oil for back pain relief.
Frankincense has anti-inflammatory, anti-arthritic and analgesic properties. This means it’s great for reducing joint pain, as well as muscular swelling. It’s especially known to improve circulation and relax patients.
Example application: Add a few drops of frankincense to your next hot bath. It will reduce pain and encourage relaxation.
Lavender is known as a “golden” essential oil because of its variety of uses. Lavender can be used to reduce stress, insomnia and headaches, as well as sore muscles. Because of its sedative properties, many patients use lavender to help them get to sleep. As an essential oil, it’s ideal for soothing lower back inflammation.
Example application: Inhale lavender using a diffuser before bed for 45 minutes. This will relieve your lower back pain and get you ready for restorative sleep.
Eucalyptus is another multi-use essential oil with anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting properties. Besides sore muscles, it’s also great for reducing anxiety and fatigue.
Example application: Try diluting eucalyptus oil and applying it topically to the affected muscular area.
Through its key ingredient of menthol, peppermint has a “cooling” effect on lower back pain. It also has a restorative scent that can soothe sore and achy muscles. It may also reduce muscle spasms.
Example application: You can try a cold compress with peppermint essential oil. Just apply a few drops to an icy-cold cloth.
Lastly, basil is an anti-inflammatory and energizing essential oil. It’s best for relaxing strained or contracted muscles.
Example application: Use basil in your car diffuser. On your way home from work, inhale basil for a half hour to relieve both spasms and stress.
Other essential oils
There are a myriad of other essential oils for lower back pain relief. Some others include: rosemary, camphor, juniper berry, cypress, chamomile, cardamom and black pepper. You can even try out different back pain “blends” of different essential oils to maximize effects. Exercise caution when making blends and never forget to dilute them.
Possible side effects
When you’re first starting a new essential oil, be sure to start with a smaller amount and heavily dilute it. Side effects may include rashes and/or allergic reactions. If you notice any of these symptoms, stop using the essential oil immediately and call your doctor. You may also want to avoid essential oils if you’re pregnant or suffer from serious asthma or allergies.
You can avoid side effects by not overusing essential oils. Make sure to keep your essential oils diluted with at least a 1:12 ratio. In addition, don’t inhale essential oils for longer than an hour.
Contact your chiropractor
When used properly, essential oils for lower back pain can have a positive impact on your pain management. For best results, you can try out several essential oils and see which is most effective for you. However, if you continue to have lower back pain, or want an expert opinion on what essential oils may be best for your back pain, contact a chiropractor or visit a chiropractic clinic like Better Health Chiropractic & Physical Rehab in Alaska. He/she will be able to make recommendations and even incorporate essential oils into your next massage therapy session.