Acute pain is usually a result of inflammation and/or injury, and usually is a soft tissue injury. This pain is immediate and has a short duration. Acute pain is a normal response to injury and some disease processes, and its cause can usually be diagnosed and treated without too much difficulty. A sprained ankle, a stubbed toe, a pulled muscle, and the like are all examples of instances where acute pain would be expected.
Chronic pain, on the other hand, is a continuous pain. It is persistent, usually lasting for more than 3 months, which is well beyond the time of normal healing. It can range from mild to severe, and can last from months to years, or even a lifetime. The cause of chronic pain is not always evident, yet it can be a result of a disease process. Often the treatment plan takes a long while to determine and sometimes it is inadequate, in the sufferer's estimation if not the physicians'. For this reason, as much as the cause of the pain, chronic pain can have a devastating impact on people’s lives. Many people with back injuries, arthritis, and various disease processes suffer from chronic pain.
Why are we discussing pain types? Well, just like you need to know what Essential Oil (EO) to sniff when you are using aromatherapy, you need to know what type of pain you have, in order to whip up or purchase a balm or massage oil with an Essential Oil blend meant to relieve your pain.
Several EO's have analgesic qualities and several have anti-inflammatory properties, but only a few possess both of these qualities. Some EO's are good for soft tissue pain, while others are better for joint pain. It is important to know what the EO's in your blend are meant for and what the source of your pain is, so that you can get the greatest bang for your buck and the most relief possible. It is also important to know what other oils, called carrier oils, are used in your product and why. Some oils are more readily absorbed by the skin, therefore they will help to deliver the EO's deeper into the skin, faster, and more adequately than others. Emu oil is one such oil, aside from helping the skin's tissue to heal, it helps to draw other ingredients down into the skin so that they are more effective. Among other things, Peppermint EO has the properties of an analgesic, a topical antiseptic, an anti-inflammatory, and a vasoconstrictor, therefore it would be an excellent choice for mixing with emu oil when needing something for pain accompanied with tissue swelling. Of course there are other Eo's that are considered to be analgesics and some others that anti-inflammatory in nature, so some study is quite important when making your choice(s).
A lesser known stimulant is Turmeric. A native of South Asia, Turmeric has been used for thousands of years as an herb in cooking and as medicine. The yellow powder is an ingredient in many curries. Current research indicates that Turmeric has a strong antioxidant property that makes it an herb that may prevent and assist disease and aging issues. It belongs to the ginger family and the powder and essential oil is obtained from the thick rhizome (root). In traditional Chinese and Indian medicine, Turmeric is used to treat flatulence, colic, abdominal pain, liver disorder, menstrual issues, hemorrhage, bruises, sores and toothache as well as chest and shoulder pain. Because of its analgesic, anti-arthritis, anti-inflammatory, choleric, digestive and rubefacient properties, aromatherapists use Turmeric for arthritis, rheumatism, digestive problems and liver congestion. Research has shown that turmeric can stop the proliferation of laboratory strains of melanoma. (Read Farida Irani 2008 article "Turmeric" in "Aromatherapy Journal," the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy (NAHA) e-Journal.) Turmeric is said to be non-toxic, non-irritant and non-sensitizing.