Back Pain

Back pain (backache) affects 80% of Americans at some time in their lives. It comes in several forms, from lower back, middle back, or upper back pain to low back pain with sciatica. Common back pain causes include nerve and muscular problems, degenerative disc disease, and arthritis. (

woman with back pain

Back pain usually is related to the spinal column. The spinal column is not only a major structural member of the human anatomy but it also houses the spinal cord, a main part of the Central Nervous System and the primary conduit for exchange of information between the Peripheral Nervous System (limbs, organs, and glands) and the brain. Injury or disease to the vertebrae, discs, or the spinal cord can all be a source of back pain. Since nerve signals from the Peripheral Nervous System travel through the spinal column, injury or disease of the spine can lead to improper function or “mixed signals” in these other parts of the body.

Common Back Problems

Muscle Strain

A muscle strain is an injury (partial tear) that damages the internal structure of the muscle. The tearing may be so small that one could only see it with a microscope. However, the tearing could be severe enough to cause internal bleeding and cause some muscle fibers to lengthen. If the damaged parts of the muscle actually pull away from each other, it is called a muscle rupture.


Whiplash is a sudden, moderate-to-severe strain affecting the bones, discs, muscles, nerves, or tendons of the neck.

Disk Degeneration

Degenerative disk disease is wear and tear on the disks located in between each vertebra. These interveterbral disks, protect the spine by absorbing shock while the body is in movement.If pain due to the wear and tear on the disks persists longer than 3 months, doctors call this degenerative disk disease.Degenerative disk disease happens when our disks lose suppleness and water. This can be due to the normal aging process, genetics or an injury to the area.

Spine Conditions

Spine Conditions


Sciatica refers to pain or discomfort associated with the sciatic nerve. This nerve runs from the lower part of the spinal cord, down the back of the leg, to the foot. Injury to or pressure on the sciatic nerve can cause the characteristic pain of sciatica: a sharp or burning pain that radiates from the lower back or hip, possibly following the path of the sciatic nerve to the foot. (

Facet Joints

The Facet joints are the joint structures that connect the vertebrae to one another. The facet joint is like any other joint in your body – they have cartilage that line the joint, (this allows the bone to glide smoothly over one another) and a capsule surrounding the joint. The function of the facet joint is to provide support, stability, and mobility to the vertebrae (spine). Facet Disease occurs when there is degeneration of the facet joint. (


As the facet joints deteriorate the body may try to compensate by producing a bony growth commonly called a bone spur. This bony structure can narrow the passages that nerves go through and result in pressure on those nerves.

Failed Back Syndrome

Many journals now list this as a common back problem. This is the result of back surgery that has left the person with no improvement or even a worsened condition. Statistics now suggest that this happens in 15 to 40 percent of back surgeries.

Spinal Stenosis

This is a narrowing of any of the channels that carry nerves thereby putting pressure on the nerves. It is a term that applies to many of the conditions above. It can result in pain, numbness and/or loss of strength in limbs and can affect bladder and bowel functions as well.

The Central Nervous System (brain and spinal cord) are connected to other parts of the body through the Peripheral Nervous System. If damage is done to the spine it can have an effect on other parts of the body. The chart below is a simplified diagram of where various nerves leave the spinal column traveling to other limbs, organs, and glands of the body.

Suggested Oils to Use

Birch, Frankincense, Helichrysum, White Fir, Wintergreen

Also consider: Basil, Cypress, Eucalyptus, Lavender, Lemon, Marjoram, Myrrh, Oregano (use diluted Oregano topically), Peppermint, Rosemary, Sandalwood, Thyme

Back pain many times includes the following scenario:

1) There is an injury or degeneration that leads to damage of nerve, muscle, or connecting tissue. With the back most commonly nerve pressure or damage is involved.
2) Pain may be accompanied by loss of feeling and/or loss of strength
3) Inflammation compounds the pressure on the nerve
4) As the back muscles try to compensate there are often muscle spasms or cramps in the back area that add additional pressure and intense pain.

This leads to the conclusion that the protocol should include:

1) Oils for immediate pain relief
2) Oils for inflammation reduction
3) Oils to relax muscles and eliminate the spasms
4) Oils for increased circulation to facilitate quicker healing
5) Oils that heal and rebuild the damaged tissue

Suggested Ways to use

Oils for immediate pain relief:

· Birch or Wintergreen
· Apply 2 -3 drops topically to the area where the pain is manifested as often as required (Some Wintergreen oil may need to be diluted with a carrier oil such as coconut oil.)
· Get a back massage with these oils and for effective use a hot compress after the massage to drive the oils deeper into the tissues and muscles.

Oils to reduce inflammation:

· Basil, Bergamot, Black Pepper, Myrrh, Roman Chamomile, Rosemary, or Wintergreen
· Apply topically to spinal area. This is the location on the spine where the nerve is being pinched and will probably be different that where numbness or lack of strength or even muscle cramps occur. For example, if numbness and loss of strength is in the leg then the lower back area where the sciatic nerve originates may well be where there is nerve compression. Two or three drops topically 2 – 3 times daily. (Some Wintergreen oil may need to be diluted with a carrier oil such as coconut oil.)

Oils to relax muscles and eliminate spasms:

· Lime, Marjoram, Roman Chamomile
· Apply 2 – 3 drops topically to the area where the spasm is occurring.

Oils to increase circulation:

· Cypress, Eucalyptus, Geranium, Lemon, Orange, or Peppermint
· Apply 2 -3 drops topically to the spinal area 2 -3 times per day

Oils to heal and regenerate tissue:

· Frankincense, Helichrysum, or Sandalwood
· Apply 1 -2 drops topically to the spinal area 2 -3 times per day followed by a hot compress.

Also consider:

· Baths with oils will help relaxation.
· Diffusion Lavender or other relaxing oils at bed time will help.