Nerve pain is a frustrating and unusual condition that can greatly affect a person’s quality of life. It can be caused by many different issues, and it is often long-lasting and difficult to treat. Nerve pain is sometimes called neuropathic pain, and one element that makes it hard to treat is that common, over-the-counter painkillers such as ibuprofen and paracetamol do not always do much to relieve the pain in the long term.1
What Causes Nerve Pain?
People experience nerve pain in different ways. It can be a stabbing pain, tingling, pricking, or burning. Some people experience nerve pain only at night, while for others it can be longer lasting. Nerve pain can sometimes be associated with diabetic peripheral neuropathy where the nerves become damaged due to poor circulation, but it can also be caused by vitamin B12 deficiencies, or by other diseases or injuries.2,3
Types of Nerve Pain
There are several different types of nerve pain, with the descriptions based on the location of the particular pain:
- Post-herpetic nerve pain affects the same area as a shingles rash
- Trigeminal pain occurs in the jaw or cheek
- Pudendal pain is located between the legs
- Occipital pain strikes at the base of the skull and sometimes the back of the head
Coping with Nerve Pain
Since painkillers do not always help with nerve pain, many people turn to other options as a complement to their existing treatment plan. Non-drug treatments such as relaxation techniques, acupuncture, exercise, and essential oils are often helpful.
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Massage treatments can also help restore circulation to the areas where the nerves are damaged, and this can temporarily relieve pain.4 This is one reason why people use essential oils for nerve pain. The mechanical stimulation of the massage is beneficial in its own right, and the essential oils add an extra degree of pain relief and reduction in inflammation. Exercise works in a similar fashion, promoting improved circulation and boosting mood.
Using Essential Oils for Nerve Pain
There are many different essential oils that can help with nerve pain. One 2002 study found that using topical peppermint oil could help reduce the symptoms of neuralgia for between four to six hours after application.5 Peppermint oil is generally well-tolerated and is thought to have a strong analgesic effect.
Another more recent study found that roman chamomile essential oil could help reduce the symptoms of inflammation disorders.6 The researchers found that it produced an action that is similar to that of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
It appears that the best way to use essential oils for nerve pain is through topical application, although there is evidence to suggest that the calming effect of some oils, such as lavender or even blends of oils, could help to improve sleep, reduce anxiety, and relieve stress. The combined effects of these benefits makes it easier to cope with persistent nerve pain. A great on-the-go option for these additional benefits is Relieve.
Finding Your Own Coping Strategy
If you have nerve pain, it is important to see a doctor to get a diagnosis. If the nerve pain is caused by neuropathy, then it is vital that it is managed properly because unmanaged nerve pain can lead to wounds that heal slowly and potentially serious infections. It is not uncommon for diabetics with unmanaged peripheral neuropathy to lose toes or feet to infections caused by minor accidents or wounds that were not cared for properly.
Once you have a management plan from your doctor, you can discuss pain relief options. Many people use aromatherapy blends to help themselves relax and unwind, as well as massages or physiotherapy to relieve pain. Often, getting a good night’s sleep makes the pain easier to cope with the next day. Finding the energy to practice good self-care is often a matter of dealing with one issue at a time. The right essential oils or a good massage treatment could be the next step that you need to take control of your chronic pain.
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