Back pain is known to be caused by muscle strain or other soft tissue damage, and while it may not be serious, it can still be very painful.
There are other causes besides the main two, with specific risk factors for back pain including age, genetics, sedentary lifestyle, occupational hazards, being overweight, poor posture (prolonged), pregnancy and smoking.
Among the variety of treatments for back pain that are commonly used, aside from surgery, are:
- Pain medication, such as muscle relaxants and antidepressants
- Heat or ice, like a cold pack or heating pad, to relieve the pain
- Manual manipulation by a chiropractor, osteopathic doctor or other qualified health personnel
- Therapeutic massage
- Back exercises and physical therapy
- Epidural Injections
There are also home remedies to cure back pain, but these are not necessarily permanent solutions as they are pain relievers.
One of the most effective ways of relieving back pain is by using essential oils.
Essential oils are used in aromatherapy and traditional medicines owing to their numerous health benefits, and there are more than 90 such oils.
Most of these blend with other essential oils in function and odor, so a wide range of aromatic combinations can be prepared.
Here are 10 essential oils for back pain relief, most of which are strong in nature and could cause side effects if not taken in the prescribed dose and manner.
1. Lavender Oil
This is one of the most popular essential oils as lavender reduces back pain by getting rid of, or reducing muscle spasms, while easing the pain and tension. Consequently, it also reduces inflammation that increases the pain, and calms your mind.
Lavender oil is usually applied topically in its undiluted form by taking a few drops and applying them to the area that you feel pain. You can also diffuse the oil in your home or your room for a relaxing atmosphere throughout the day.
2. Ginger Oil
Ginger root is not only used to soothe inflammation but also as a warming substance that you can apply to your back. The effect of this oil is reduced inflammation, prevention of muscle spasms, promotion of healing on strained and pulled muscles, plus it eases muscle tension.
It is known to be highly potent, so it is advisable to combine it with a carrier oil like coconut or jojoba, then applied topically to the painful spot.
3. Mustard Oil
Mustard oil is best used when your back pain is related to an acute injury, because it stimulates healing and muscle/ligament repair by enhancing the flow of blood to the skin’s surface.
When using this essential oil, you have to heat it first and apply it as a massage oil on your entire back – you could use a carrier or massage oil to dilute it first, then massage into the reachable areas of your back.
4. Juniper Oil
Juniper is derived from a coniferous tree and its berries are used as natural cleansers and detox agents, besides natural skin toning and reducing blemishes. It has a woody and spicy yet fresh aroma, delivering a calming and grounding effect.
For back pain, juniper oil has a soothing, sedative, and antispasmodic quality that makes it great for relieving back pain and inflammation.
It is usually added to warm bathwater, then you can soak your whole body in it for up to 30 minutes for the anti-inflammatory effects of this powerful oil to work and relieve you of the pain.
5. Basil Oil
Basil, or Saint Joseph’s Wort as some call it, is a herb from the mint family and is commonly used in cooking, but it also has a myriad of health benefits.
Besides consuming basil through cooking it with your food, it also comes as an essential oil with benefits such as reducing inflammation. It is also said to have anti-aging and antibacterial properties.
If you’re feeling under the weather, or just fatigued, basil oil can soothe your body and mind while easing tension and relieving back pain.
Simply add a few drops to a warm compress and apply to the painful spot on your back directly, or you could sniff the oil from the bottle as some people do for pain relief and mental relaxation.
6. Clary Sage Oil
Also known as Salvia sclarea, Clary Sage is a plant widely used for medicinal purposes, but also as a spice.
Its parts, including the leaves, flowers, stems and seeds, are also used in alternative medicine but the oil is used in aromatherapy due to its potential properties including antidepressant, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and stress relief effects.
If your back is hurting, either due to strained muscles and/or ligaments, clary sage oil soothes them making it easier to move around and relax.
To use this oil, you can blend it with a carrier oil, like almond or coconut, and apply it to the painful spot while massaging gently for the best relief effects.
7. Chamomile Oil
Chamomile is considered one of the most ancient yet versatile medicinal herbs with numerous benefits to mankind. Its high level of disease-fighting antioxidants are found in the plant’s potent oils, which are the main contributors to the plant’s natural healing capacity.
It is an effective alternative medicine having been in use for nearly 5,000 years in different forms including tea, herbal extracts, and cosmetics.
Among its benefits include fighting anxiety, depression and allergy or hay fever, anti-inflammatory and muscle spasm treatment, as well as curing arthritis and rheumatic pain among others.
To use it, add some drops to a cup of your chamomile tea, or blend it with a carrier oil and rub gently on the painful area.
8. Peppermint Oil
Peppermint oil may be, perhaps, the most versatile in the world, alongside lavender oil, with very few body, health and mind issues it cannot help.
This oil gives a cooling sensation and calming effect on the body that helps relieve back pain and sore muscles and spasms when used topically, besides boosting energy and improving mental focus.
As it is commonly used in diluted form, you can apply it directly on the painful spot on your back, or you can diffuse it in your home for a relaxing and refreshing aroma.
9. Pepper Oil
Pepper is usually associated with spice, but did you know it has anti-inflammatory properties?
Black pepper has piperine, the active ingredient that can tackle inflammation, relieving you of back pain.
Unless your skin is very sensitive, you need not dilute this oil to use it. Apply it directly on the inflamed or painful spot on your back and let it work its magic.
10. Rosemary Oil
Rosemary is a strong smelling plant whose essential oil is commonly used for relieving back pain, treating arthritis and fibromyalgia pain with its rosmarinic acid that stimulates healing while soothing pain.
Like other potent oils, dilute a few drops with a carrier oil like coconut oil and rub thoroughly on the painful spot and massage it until it is fully absorbed.
Essential oils are great for relieving back pain as we’ve seen from their anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties.
However, there’s some level of risk involved when using these oils as some are extremely potent. Others contain active ingredients that can inflame or irritate skin if applied topically.
Additionally, not all back pain can be treated using essential oils or home remedies, which is why it is recommended that you visit your medical professional to ensure it isn’t a serious issue that requires immediate attention and treatment.
Diana Paul is a certified nutritionist who writes for leading health blogs. She is a master herbalist, yoga teacher, forager, and wild-crafting writer She is focused on helping people transform life blocks to opportunities. Based in NYC, she often holds health seminars and lectures.