Essential Oils for Back Pain

According to the American Chiropractic Association, as many as 31 million Americans suffer from low back pain at one point in their life. Also, pain of the lower back is the leading cause of disability and the most common reason for absenteeism worldwide. Several factors may predispose one to back pain including arthritis, muscle problems and lifestyle activities.What Causes Back Pain?

Pain in the back does not just affect the lower area; it may also affect the upper and middle areas. In almost all instances, back pain is related to the spinal column, which is a vital part of the human body.

The spinal column comprises of the spinal cord, which is a major component of the central nervous system and the channel through which the brain and the peripheral nervous system communicate.

Any disease or injury that affects the functioning of the spinal cord or other parts of the spinal column can contribute to back pain. It is also possible for the peripheral nervous system to send wrong or mixed signals to other parts of the body if the spinal column is injured or diseased.

Types of Back Pain

Common types of back pain include:


Whiplash occurs when the discs, muscles, nerves, bones or tendons in the neck experience a sudden strain. Depending on the nature of the strain, whiplash may result in moderate to severe back pain.


Sciatica results from pain emerging from the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve runs from the tip of the spinal cord through the back of the leg down to the foot. When this nerve is injured or pressured, result is a burning or sharp sensation from the lower back or hip, through the back of the leg to the foot.

Degeneration of the disk

As the name suggests, disc degeneration is a condition in which the disks found in the vertebra along the spinal column begin to wear off. The vertebras play a critical role of protecting the spine by diffusing shock when the body is in movement. Diagnosis for degenerative disk disease is issued when pain caused by the wearing of the disks lasts for a period longer than 3 months. Wear and tear of the disks occurs when the latter lose water and are no longer supple because of factors such injury, genetics or aging.​

Muscle Strain

Muscle strain occurs as a result of partial tear of the muscle resulting in damages to the internal structure of the affected muscle. Although the tear is typically very small, it can be a source of massive pain resulting from internal bleeding and lengthening of fiber muscles. Muscle rupture may occur if the injured parts of the muscle separate from each other.

Facet Joints

When the facet joints degenerate, the result is often a sharp lower back pain. Facet joints connect one vertebra to the next one. These joints comprise of cartilage, which is vital in ensuring that the joints move smoothly. The joints are also surrounded by a capsule. Overall, the facet joints ensure that the spinal column remains stable, supported and mobile.

different types of back pain

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Back pain is a major symptom of osteoarthritis. Degeneration of facet joints may lead to an overproduction of bone spur, a bony growth that the body produces as a compensatory mechanism. Bone spur may however make the nerve passages too narrow therefore applying pressure on the nerves resulting in back pain.

Failed Back Syndrome

Studies show that as many as 40 percent of patients who undergo back surgeries may experience even more intense back pain. This phenomenon is known as failed back syndrome.

Spinal Stenosis

Spinal stenosis occurs when openings through which the nerves pass become too narrow causing a pile up of pressure on the nerves. Spinal stenosis is really a general term for many of the conditions that result in back pain. Pressure on the nerves may result in weak limbs, numbness, pain as well as weakened bladder and bowel capabilities.​

Using Essential Oils for Back Pain

Chronic back pain can make you desperate for a cure. It is common for people to reach out for prescription drugs to try eliminating or easing their pain. However, pain medicines can be expensive, trigger addiction and result in other nasty side effects.

Essential oils for back pain offer a natural and safe way to manage pain. There is a growing body of research showing that when used together with essential oils, physical therapy is not only healthy but is more efficacious in helping patients deal with pain. Other approaches such as massage, aromatherapy and acupuncture may also improve results.

Massages for back pain using essential oils are not only physically enjoyable; they are often the best way to heal muscles and invigorate joints, allowing you to manage pain with less stress.

The best thing about using essential oils for backaches is that you can massage the oils onto any muscle or related pressure points to alleviate the pain naturally.

Essential oils may also be inhaled to calm the mind and restore balance to the body, which helps in coping with pain. Perhaps the most exciting thing about essential oils for back pain is they allow the body to heal slowly and naturally.

For best results in healing back pain, you may use essential oils in the following order:• Oils for immediate pain relief• Oils that help to reduce inflammation• Oils to relax muscles and alleviate spasms• Oils for improving circulation and promoting healing• Oils that aid in rebuilding damaged tissue​

The Best Essential Oils for Back Pain

Add the following essential oils to your treatment regimen to alleviate mild, severe or chronic back pain.

Marjoram Essential Oil

Marjoram herb is known for its ability to relax muscles and to alleviate the effects of muscle spasms. The word Marjoram is actually Greek meaning ‘joy of the mountains’ from the terms oros and ganos. When you suffer from chronic back pain, one of the best ways to ease this pain is getting your muscles to relax as much as possible. Massaging the affected muscles with marjoram essential oil can aid in relaxing your muscles without adverse side effects.

In addition to alleviating physical pain, marjoram essential oil is a potent herb for calming the nerves and the mind.

Sandalwood Essential Oil

Sandalwood essential oil is widely used in Eastern medicine practices for treating sciatica, muscle strain as well as congestion of the lymph node. Sandalwood essential oil not only has a desirable aroma; it also feels fresh and tingly to the skin and as such, works wonders in helping to calm physical pain and the mind.

The cardiovascular and digestive system can aggravate pain if the systems are not working properly. As such, using sandalwood essential oil to improve the functioning of these systems can subsequently help in managing back pain.

A condition such as sciatica nerve, which also affects the foot may be alleviated by mixing sandalwood essential oil with a carrier oil and applying to the soles of the foot.

Frankincense Essential Oil

Frankincense essential oil is extracted from Boswellia serrata. Frankincense essential oil has a deep earthy and woody accent.

Other than its characteristically rich scent, Frankincense essential is a potent anti-inflammatory treatment and as such works wonders in helping to manage pain.Frankincense essential oil is especially effective at healing degenerating tissues.

Cypress Essential Oil

Cypress essential oil is derived from the plant Cupressus sempervirens whose twigs are packed with glands from which cypress essential oil is extracted and distilled.Cypress plant is a native of Morocco, France and Spain. Asian cultures including those in Nepal and Tibet have historically used cypress herbs as incense for cleansing ceremonies.

Cypress essential oil is much loved for its green and fresh aroma that brings an instant soothing sensation.

Cypress essential oil works excellently to promote blood circulation, which can help in relieving pain. For best results, massage Cypress essential oil on the affected area of the back in circular clockwise circles towards the heart. This massage method, which entails rubbing in the blood flow direction, ensures that the blood is propelled toward the heart, which improves circulation.

Lavender Essential Oil

Derived from the plant Lavandula officinalis, lavender oil is loved for its calming aroma. The plant from which the oil is extracted is a native of France and is identified by its filamentous purple blue flowers. The plant comprises numerous oil glands from which the essential oil is distilled.

Lavender essential oil is amongst the most popular herbal treatments for back pain. Lavender oil has relaxing properties, which can help in managing pain by relieving the stress and anxiety that can come with chronic pain.

In addition to treating back pain, lavender essential oil may also be used to alleviate tension, insomnia and headaches that may come with back pain. Use lavender to heal muscle strain, cramps, joint pain and nerve pain, all of which can contribute to back pain.


Chronic back pain can result in other problems such as insomnia, anxiety and depression. Essential oils have been found to be some of the most effective oils for restoring mental balance, calming the mind and improving blood circulation. All these benefits are especially helpful in managing and eventually relieving pain.​

For more content on the use of essential oils, take a look at our post on best essential oils for wrinkles or our roundup of oils for sinus headaches.