Aromatherapy involves the use of essential oils for therapeutic purposes. Derived from plant essences, essential oils can be topically to the skin or inhaled with the use of a diffuser to provide stress relief, support the immune system, enhance sleep, offer relaxation, ease muscle tension, manage pain, and support emotional balance.
Massage with aromatherapy is a safe, natural approach for effectively managing pain. When you experience pain, whether from an occasional headache or chronic health condition, that discomfort may be stressful, exhausting or even overwhelming. By combining specific massage techniques with specific essential oils which have analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties, massage aromatherapy helps to lessen pain while supporting the body’s ability to rest and heal. In order to determine the best pain-relieving essential oil for aromatherapy massage, it is helpful to let your massage therapist know what type of pain someone is experiencing.
Muscular pain is common for hardworking people with physically demanding jobs, as well as in athletes or other active individuals. Muscular pain may stem from repetitive or overuse of a muscle group or tendon, or due to a trauma from an external force that causes injury to the muscle. Symptoms of muscular pain may include cramping, spasm, soreness, or a bruised feeling. Massage therapy with essential oils can promote circulation to the affected muscle or bodypart, stimulate drainage of inflammatory swelling, support cellular repair, help decrease spasms and bruising, and ease pain due to any of these factors.
Nerve pain is often of greater intensity compared to muscular pain. Nerve pain typically involves irritation or impingement due to an infection, obstruction, or some type of pressure on a peripheral sensory nerve. Nerve pain can be very stressful and aromatherapy massage can calm the emotions of someone with nerve pain. Using specific essential oils topically on the area of the body with nerve pain, one can reduce pain and inflammation while relaxing the involved tissues, and this can decrease their perception of pain. When this happens, the client can relax, and with that they will experience less pain.
Chronic pain refers to pain that stays with a person for an extended length of time. Chronic pain necessitates ongoing care. Chronic pain may be caused by conditions such as arthritis, cancer and fibromyalgia. People suffering chronic pain often suffer from lack of sleep, restlessness, and even irritability from dealing with their pain. For chronic conditions, aromatherapy massage is helpful as a continuing supportive regimen for people living with chronic pain.
Aromatherapy can be an effective tool for treating pain as it holistically supports the whole person. When working with a client in pain, it is critical to consider the whole self, which includes both body and mind.
Once the pain type has been determined, choose a pain-relieving oil to combine with your massage techniques. Always dilute the essential oil in a carrier oil or cream base before topical application on the skin. For muscular pain or nerve pain, dilute your chosen essential oil to 3% to use for therapeutic massage. This amounts to 15-18 drops of essential oil per 1 oz. of cream base or carrier oil. Do not use essential oils that are past their shelf life or have been exposed to sunlight. For young children or the elderly, some essential oils might be too strong and may cause skin irritation. In these situations, diluting the essentials to 1% is a wise move. Also consider more gentle oil choices such as lemon, lavender or geranium.