7 Best Essential Oils For Neck Pain | Pain Care

Top 7 Essential Oils For Neck Pain

In surprising reality, the incidence rate of neck pain is increasing almost 30 percent every year but we mostly neglect it as it is very common to almost everyone in today’s life.

The pain in the neck is mostly acute which patients ignore as sometimes pain even gets resolved without treatment. Although this ignorance may be a cause that almost 50 percent neck pain sufferer has a frequent reoccurrence of the condition.

Hence, it is important to have knowledge about neck pain and treating this condition with essential oil therapy. Some facts about neck pain are as follows:

  • Neck pain is more prevalent in women than men.
  • Neck pain can be restricted only to the neck region, whereas in some cases it extends even to shoulder region and patient may complain pain in the shoulder during their neck pain hit.
  • Neck pain can arise at any age, but usually, it develops after adulthood.
  • Neck pain symptoms vary with the intensity of the pain. The performance of daily activities may get compromised in case of severe or chronic pain conditions. It is important to know that evaluation of general health condition is important for chronic or frequent recurrence of neck pain.
  • Neglecting neck pain is not advisable, it is always suggested that patient should opt for medical help to diagnose frequent neck pain.
  • Certain co-morbidities can also induce neck pain. [1]

What diseases influence neck pain?

Muscle spasm is a common condition which influences neck pain. Some serious health problems like atlantoaxial subluxation, myelopathy, and metastases can cause neck pain. [2]

What are the diagnostic methods used to diagnose neck pain?

Usually, X-Ray may be performed to diagnose the neck pain. If conventional treatment does not provide relief from neck pain and doctor is expecting that neurological problem may be associated with neck pain, then MRI (Magnetic resonance imaging) technique is applied to diagnose the actual cause of the condition. [2]

What are the different standard therapies available for neck pain?

The selection of treatment measure depends upon the underlying cause of the neck pain.

Usually, analgesic (painkiller) and anti-inflammatory medications are prescribed to treat acute neck pain but the long-term application of synthetic analgesics and anti-inflammatory medications increases side effects like gastric irritation, bleeding etc.

Therefore, it is always preferable to treat acute or chronic neck pain with natural analgesic and anti-inflammatory medications.

However, certain unbearable neck pain may need allopathic treatment like epidural corticosteroid injections. In case of severe neurological problems, doctors prefer to perform a surgical intervention. [2]

How can essential oils help in neck pain?

Essential oils have their own typical odour.  This odour of Essential oils stimulates olfactory nerves of the nose and that activates amygdala and hippocampus present in the brain.

The activation of these specific regions of the brain improves mental health and reduces pain response.

Usually, the essential oil is applied topically to the neck to relieve pain. The application of essential oil with gentle massage can help to absorb through the skin and easily reach to the blood.

Then essential oil reaches to the pain receptor through systemic circulation and control pain symptoms or interacts with pain causing hormones and enzymes to reduce the pain intensity.

Some essential oils have a sedative effect and assist to relieve pain.  The topical application of essential oil with gentle massage is clinically termed as aromatherapy and massage technique also provide physical therapy and improves pain symptoms. [3]

However, apart from aromatherapy, essential oils can also be used as a bath oil, and diffuser to control neck pain.

Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the United States granted generally recognized as safe (GRAS) for medicinal use of Essential oil. This indicates that therapeutic use of Essential oil is safe.  [2]

Hand Picked: Top Essential Oils for Neck Pain

Here is the list of top 7 essential oils that helps to relieve the pain in the cervical region.

  • Lavender Essential Oil
  • Peppermint Essential Oil
  • Rosemary Essential Oil
  • Marjoram Essential Oil
  • Eucalyptus Essential Oil
  • Frankincense Essential Oil
  • Nutmeg oil

Lavender Essential Oil

Lavender oil is effective to treat neck pain.

Linalool and linalyl acetate are two principle constituents present in lavender oil which provide the local anaesthetic effect. Thus, application of the lavender oil provides immediate pain relief.

Lavender Flowers

Through the topical application, the lavender oil rapidly reaches to the systemic circulation and within 19 minutes the pain subsides.

The potent analgesic effect of lavender oil is obtained through different mechanisms. Lavender oil promotes opioidergic neurotransmission and can provide the opioid-like analgesic effect.

In addition, the lavender oil can block nicotinic and muscarinic receptors activity and prevent pain symptom.

Apart from topical application, oral and inhalation of lavender oil are also effective to provide pain to relieve effect.

A human trial report provided the evidence that lavender oil application in manual acupressure therapy improves the pain symptoms within an eight-session course. [4]

Peppermint Essential Oil

The painkilling effect of peppermint is well studied.

Peppermint leaves

The CNS stimulating effect of peppermint oil can increase pain threshold. Improvement of overall brain activities also alters pain response.

The research found that peppermint oil can decrease lactate level in the blood and thus lactic acid accumulated muscular pain get subsided. [5]

Another pilot study conducted in patients suffering from shoulder pain attained benefits by receiving acupressure along with aromatherapy. [6]

Rosemary Essential Oil

The analgesic action of Rosemary Essential Oil is observed due to blockage of the sensory nerve to receive pain stimuli.

Rosemary Leaves

This opioidergic and serotonergic effect of Rosemary Essential Oil provides the antinociceptive effect.

Animal study report provides detail evidence of its analgesic effect. [7]The dosage of Rosemary Essential Oil is 250mg, 500mg, and 750 mg per kg body weight and able to control pain in inflammation. [8]

A study report provided in 2007 also showed that Rosemary Essential Oil can control shoulder pain along with acupressure therapy. [6]

Marjoram Essential Oil

A specific neck pain relieving formulation made with marjoram essential oil, in addition to lavender oil, peppermint oil, and black pepper oil showed improved pain tolerance, as the pain threshold significantly increases.

Marjoram Leaves

The neck movement of the study participants gets significantly better. This result showed that marjoram essential oil preparation in combination with other essential oils is effective to treat neck pain. [9]

Eucalyptus Essential Oil

Eucalyptus essential oil is extracted from a variety of Eucalyptus species. All the varieties of Eucalyptus essential oil have a significant pain-relieving effect.

Eucalyptus essential oil can able to reduce pain symptom by modulating pain signal in both central and peripheral nervous system.

Eucalyptus leaves

It has been also observed that anti-inflammatory effect of Eucalyptus oil is effective to control both neutrophils- independent and dependent inflammation. [10]

Therefore, analgesic and anti-inflammatory effect of Eucalyptus oil are effective to relieve pain symptoms.

Frankincense Essential Oil

Frankincense essential oil is obtained from Boswellia carterii.

Frankincense essential oil is very commonly used to provide pain to relieve effect and inflammation reduction in traditional and folk medicine.

Frankincense & Myrrh

In the USA, Frankincense essential oil supplements are available in the market for treating pain and inflammatory conditions.

The researcher found that Frankincense essential oil blended with Myrrh oil provides a synergistic effect in pain relieving effect. [11]

Therefore, the potent analgesic effect of Frankincense essential oil is effective to relieve neck pain.

Nutmeg oil

Myristica fragrans seed extraction through stem distillation provides Nutmeg oil.

More than 5 bioactive phytochemicals mainly monoterpenes group of chemical constituents in nutmeg oil are usually responsible for pain relieving effect.

Nutmeg

The chronic pain is subsided by nutmeg oil and the effect is quite comparable to Diclofenac (NSAIDs) functioning.

The pain and inflammation are quite inter-related, as activation of cyclooxygenase-2 promotes prostaglandin synthesis.

Nutmeg oil can inhibit COX-2 and neuropeptide substance P, which is a member of tachykinin family. [12]

Therefore it is suggested instead of using Diclofenac or other NSAIDs, use Nutmeg oil for chronic neck pain reduction, as it does not produce side effects like synthetic medications.

How to Use Essential Oils for Neck Pain?

There are different methods of application for essential oils to obtain pain relieving effect in the neck:

Using Diffuser

Buy a good quality essential oil diffuser and select any of the above mentioned essential oil or blend them according to the expert recommendation.  Then, remove the taper and add required amount of essential oil or properly blend them. Now replace the taper and close the cap of the inhaler. Inhale deeply the oil fragrance.

If you don’t have the diffuser, then boil water in a bowl and add few drops of essential oil in it. Then fully cover the head and face and inhale vapor by keeping the bowl near to the nose.  [13]

Topical application

Essential oil needs to be diluted with a carrier oil, such as coconut oil, avocado oil, sweet almond oil, apricot kernel oil, sesame oil, jojoba oil and grape-seed oil for topical application.

For dilution purpose, you need to add 10 drops of selected essential oil in 1 tablespoonful of carrier oil. However, this dilution ratio may not be applicable to every case.

It is suggested to take advice from experts for attaining optimum benefits. Dilution is necessary, as a direct application of essential oil on the skin can cause different skin reaction like itching, inflammation etc.

It is always recommended to conduct a patch test before essential oil applied to the skin. For this test, you need to apply essential oil to the forearm skin and observe 24 to 48 hours. During this period if no irritation or inflammation occurs at the applied area then it is safe to use on the skin or the specific essential oil suit in your skin.

Gentle massage on the neck muscle provides muscle relaxing effect due to physical therapy and selected essential oil assist to reduce neck pain, as it directly absorbs through the skin pores to the underlying blood capillaries. [13]

Using in bath

Select your choice of essential oil and blend with a carrier oil or you can also add directly to the warm bathtub water just before taking the bath.

Mix the preparation well with water to disperse properly. Immerse your body in such a way that pain area needs to get engrossed in essential oil mixed warm water and relax your body.

Absorption of essential oil is better through the skin due to steam releases from the warm water, and aromatherapy is an added benefit in this process. Some may prefer to add essential oil in milk, as oil gets dissolved in milk fat. [13]

Limitation

  • Addition of carrier oil is important for the topical application, as it dilutes the strength of the essential oil. Therefore proper dilution is important to avoid skin irritation.[13]
  • After application of essential oil, preparation avoids exposing in sunlight, as some of the essential oil has photo-toxicity and can cause inflammation, redness, blistering on the skin. [14]
  • Shelf-life of this product is 6 months. [15]

Precautions

  • Do not put these essential oil blend directly to the nose
  • Keep away from children and pet during essential oil diffusion therapy
  • Essential oil therapy needs to be discussed with the medical professional before application to elderly person and children.
  • Thoroughly read the application instructional guidance provided by the manufacturer for a specific diffuser.
  • Homemade essential oil preparation needs to be stored in a dark colour glass bottle and keep away from sunlight; as the sun exposure degrade the preparation. The essential oil reacts with plastic, so don’t put the preparation in the plastic bottle.
  • Pregnant women and nursing mother do not use the essential oil preparation, as it reaches deep and may affect the baby or secrete through breast milk.
  • The oil should not reach to your eyes during the massage.
  • Essential oil therapy should be cautiously applied in case of co-morbidity conditions.

References

1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3489448/
2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25659245
3. http://www.umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/treatment/aromatherapy
4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3612440/
5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3607906/
6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5192342/
7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25635991
8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19053868
9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25192562
10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14611892
11. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4556964/
12. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4848392/
13. https://www.healthline.com/health/pain-relief/essential-oils-for-pain#how-to-use
14. https://www.aromaweb.com/articles/phototoxicity-essential-oils.asp
15. https://www.purewildoils.com/essential-oils-for-anger/

Dr. Nita Sharma Das
 

Dr. Nita is a freelance medical writer with an experience of more than 14 years in Indian healthcare industry with a strong niche in Nutraceutical. As per academia, she is a Doctor of Naturopathy and did her PhD in Alternative Medicine.

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