Chronic Physical Pain and Essential Oils

“Pain is inevitable: suffering is optional” ~The Buddha

Chronic pain affects more than one out of four adults in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It has surpassed heart disease as the number one disease in the United States, Chronic physical pain is projected to grow as our population ages, and two-thirds of those experiencing chronic pain will be women.

As a woman, I too have experienced chronic pain in my hands from knitting and writing. As a clinical aromatherapist I use essential oil blends to ease my pain, and I carry this into my professional practice. Chronic physical pain can hamper our lives and diminish the enjoyment of sports, hobbies, and even the simplest of daily chores. As we know, the opiate crisis is exploding as our culture turns to these highly addictive drugs to numb chronic pain. After all, it’s easy, it’s immediate, and it’s has short term effect, but this relief comes at a very high price. Let’s make a different choice first as we explore alternative ways to alleviate chronic physical pain.

Qualified aromatherapists can make specific blends for joint and back pain. They can be soothing and calming to areas where the blend is applied. They are quick acting and comforting. Most chronic pain blends are in the range of 5% to 20% dilutions of essential oils in specific healing carrier oils. These essential oil blends can be used in conjunction with other medical treatments such as physical therapy, prolotherapy, radiation and chemotherapy, and at specific times before and after surgery and before and after cancer treatments.

I enjoy collaborating with Integrative Medicine Physicians as they treat patients with chronic physical pain. They utilize acupuncture and prolotherapy as alternatives to opioids in treating those with chronic physical pain. Acupuncture is an ancient eastern method for treating pain using very small needles in specific areas on the body. Prolotherapy or proliferation therapy is an alternative method using an injection-based treatment for chronic musculoskeletal pain. It stimulates the body’s healing processes to strengthen and repair injured and painful joints and connective tissue. I add essential oil blends at specific times to soothe and comfort the areas of the body where acupuncture and prolotherapy treatment have taken place. One small study found that blending a 3% dilution of marjoram Origanum majorana, black pepper Piper nigrum, lavender Lavandula angustifolia and peppermint Metha x piperita, in a carrier lotion and applying it once a day after a shower or bath significantly decreased neck and shoulder pain. Combining essential oil therapy, acupuncture, and prolotherapy is a viable option for those seeking a non-opiate solution to their chronic pain.

“Common chronic pain complaints include headaches, low back pain, cancer pain, arthritis pain, neurogenic pain (pain resulting from damage to the peripheral nerves or to the central nervous system itself).”  ~National Institutes of Health.

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Rahimzadeh P, Imani F, Faiz SHR, Entezary SR, Zamanabadi MN, Alebouyeh MR, 2018.The effects of injecting intra-articular platelet-rich plasma or prolotherapy on pain score and function in knee osteoarthritis. Clin Interv Aging. 2018 Jan 4;13:73-79. doi: 10.2147/CIA.S147757. eCollection 2018.

Qin Z, Zang Z, Zhou K, Wu J, Zhou J, Kwong JSW, Liu Z . 2018. Acupuncture for chronic prostatitis/chronic pelvic pain syndrome: a randomized, sham acupuncture-controlled trial. J Urol. 2018 May 4. pii: S0022-5347(18)43097-2. doi: 10.1016/j.juro.2018.05.001. [Epub ahead of print]

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