Objectives: To assess the efficacy of aromatic essential oils on neck pain.
Design: Sixty participants with a history of neck pain and Neck Disability Index (NDI) score >10% were selected and randomly divided into control and experimental groups.
Setting: Motion analysis laboratory at Hungkuang University.
Intervention: For the experimental group, the intervention included 3% concentration cream composed of four essential oils: marjoram, black pepper, lavender, and peppermint. For the control group, only an unscented cream was provided. For 4 weeks, all patients applied 2 g cream directly to the affected area daily after showering or bathing.
Outcome measures: Assessment was performed by using a visual analogue scale (VAS), NDI, pressure pain threshold (PPT) evaluated with a pressure meter, and neck-joint range evaluated with Motion Analysis System (MAS).
Results: A t-test statistical analysis by SPSS statistical software indicated that VAS scores improved significantly for both groups (p<0.05). In addition, the experimental group had improved pain tolerance in the left upper trapezius (mean±standard deviation, 2.96±2.54) and right upper trapezius (2.88±2.90) as measured by the PPT. According to the NDI, the experimental group also showed significant improvement (p=0.02). Comparison of MAS values before and after the intervention showed significant improvement in the 10 motion areas in the experimental group. This finding suggests that the experimental group had better results than the control group.
Conclusion: The essential oil cream developed in this study can be used to improve neck pain. This study appears to be the first to quantify this by using PPT and MAS.