Problems With The Musculoskeletal System Can Be Very Painful

What is the The Musculoskeletal System?

The musculoskeletal system is the motor system of the body.  It involves the tendons, bones, muscles, ligaments, cartilage and joints.  The bones are connected to other bones by tendons and ligaments.  The muscles hold the bones in place and by contracting and releasing permit movement of the body.  Joints allow the bones to bend. Cartilage protects the ends of the bones from scraping against each other. However, there are many diseases and conditions which impair this system and cause us pain, resulting in reduced mobility and often disfigurement.

I have listed some of the more common and the essential oils for the musculoskeletal system which can help remedy these disorders or at least alleviate some of the pain and distress caused.


Most people tend to think of Arthritis as one disease.  It is actually a generic term for more than 100 different forms of arthritic conditions of the musculoskeletal system.

The three main types are Rheumatoid Arthritis, Osteoarthritis and Gout

hands rheumatoid arthritis essential oils

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid Arthritis is an autoimmune disease which causes inflammation throughout the entire musculoskeletal system, impacting on multiple tissues and organs, but it mainly attacks joints. 

It can be very disfiguring and cause functional disability, often making it impossible to walk or grasp objects with the hands. 

There are ways to manage this disease: exercise if possible to maintain flexibility, relaxation techniques.

Massage is contraindicated in this form of arthritis.

Recipe for Rheumatoid Arthritis

Juniper is excellent for detoxifying and Lemon is an immune stimulant and Chamomile is an excellent anti-inflammatory so they could be very useful here.


  • 2 drops Juniper essential oil
  • 1 drop Lemon essential oil
  • 2 drops Chamomile essential oil


Use in a bath.  Do this regularly as it will help with the inflammation and remove some of the toxins in the process.  It will also help you relax.


Osteoarthritis is also called degenerative arthritis. 

This form of arthritis attacks only joints in the musculoskeletal system and causes the cartilage between the joints to break down which then allows the bones to rub against each other resulting in often intense pain.   

It can affect every joint: the fingers, toes, spine, hip and knees.

The cause of osteoarthritis is unknown and is most often associated with older people, but it can occur in younger people. 

To relieve symptoms it is advisable to remain mobile as much as possible and perform muscle strengthening exercises.

Gentle massage is good for stimulating blood flow and releasing toxins. 

Essential oils for Osteoarthritis

Recipe One for Osteoarthritis


  • 13 drops of Ginger essential oil
  • 8 drops of Black Pepper essential oil
  • 4 drops of Cedarwood essential oil
  • 4 drops of Cypress essential oil
  • 30mls carrier oil


Mix together and massage over problem area.

Recipe Two for Osteoarthritis


  • 15 drops Rosemary essential oil
  • 5 drops Black Pepper essential oil
  • 4 drops Geranium essential oil
  • 4 drops Marjoram essential oil


Mix all ingredients together and use 4 drops of the mixture in a bath.  Do this daily, if possible.

Marjoram essential oil for arthritis


Gout is the result of uric acid build up in the joints, typically the big toe or areas of the foot. 

Unlike the other major forms of arthritis which progress gradually gout is a sudden, very painful, attack. 

It seems to be mostly men who are affected by this arthritic condition of the musculoskeletal system, not so many women suffer from it. 

Reducing your uric acid in the blood stream is one method of controlling this condition.

Essential oils for Gout

Recipe for Gout


  • 3 drops of Chamomile essential oil
  • 3 drops of Lavender essential oil
  • 2 drops of Ginger essential oil
  • 2 drops of Bergamot essential oil


Mix together and put a couple of drops in a footbath.

Back Pain

Pain in the back region can be very debilitating. The causes of pain in the musculoskeletal system are sometimes unknown but the pain is often the result of sports injuries, accidents involving back or neck injury or muscle strains.  It could be due to working with poorly designed equipment , gardening, lifting weights incorrectly - lots of reasons.

The most common form of back pain in the musculoskeletal system is concentrated in the lower back.  This can be related to spinal discs, pinched nerves, spondylitis, arthritis etc.  Back pain can be aggravated if you are overweight, don’t exercise or wear inappropriate footwear.

Taking care of the spine is so important as it houses the spinal cord and it's connected to the brain.  Back damage can, in serious cases, lead to paralysis.

Prevention is obviously the best course of action.  Strengthening the back and stomach muscles to hold the spine correctly and support the back.  Even with some pain issues, continuing to exercise and do strength enhancing exercises is still helpful.  

Always check with your doctor for appropriate options.

Recipe One for Back Pain

Massage over the painful area should be done very gently but certainly will be worthwhile.


  • Juniper essential oil
  • Marjoram essential oil
  • Pine essential oil
  • 30ml carrier oil


Mix together and massage over sore areas.

Recipe Two


  • 10 drops Lavender essential oil
  • 10 drops Eucalyptus essential oil
  • 10 drops Ginger essential oil
  • 30ml carrier oil


As above.


Bursitis is an inflammation of the bursa, the sac-like membrane that contains lubricant fluid to reduce friction in the joint in which the bursa sits.  The bursa acts as protection for the joints, tissues, muscles and tendons interconnecting in that area of the musculoskeletal system.

The most common joints affected are shoulder, elbow, hip and lower knee.  Bursitis may result from trauma, strain, infection or arthritic conditions.  The bursa may develop calcified deposits and become a chronic problem.

Many situations can aggravate or cause bursitis – gardening, sports, painting, work related activities, rheumatoid arthritis, medications etc.  It seems to affect people over the age of 40 more than younger as tendons and muscles are less flexible as we age.

The most common symptom of bursitis is pain and lack of mobility in that joint.  The pain in the bursa inhibits the ability to move the joint which can result in a more serious issue: frozen shoulder or adhesive capsulitis. 

Essential Oil Recipe for Bursitis

Essential oils for the musculoskeletal system that are rich in anti-inflammatory properties will help with this condition. 


  • 10 drops Juniper essential oil
  • 10 drops Chamomile essential oil
  • 10 drops Cypress or Hyssop essential oil
  • 30ml carrier oil


Mix all ingredients together and gently massage the whole area around the joint.


Peppermint for Cramps

Cramps are an involuntary contraction of a muscle in the musculoskeletal system. They can affect any muscle in the musculoskeletal system but the most common areas are feet and calves. Causes are often unknown and the cramps may be sudden and intense, usually very painful. 

For a great many people the cramps seem to come on mostly at night, while trying to sleep. This sudden awakening with an agonizing cramp in the calf muscle or foot can become a regular problem for lots of us, with sleep deprivation only one of the consequences.

Causes of cramps may be dehydration, calcium and magnesium deficiencies, lack of exercise and stress.  If you suffer from cramps regularly drink plenty of water during the day, get regular exercise and perhaps try some supplements.

Warming the bed before retiring for the night might help – a hot water bottle under the feet to keep the legs and feet warm until the bed warms up from your body heat is a good idea. Have a hot shower or bath and massage both legs and feet before hopping into bed.

Essential Oil Recipe for Cramps

Chamomile, Cypress and Peppermint are great essential oils of the musculoskeletal system to use with Cramps.


  • 10 drops Chamomile essential oil
  • 10 drops Cypress essential oil
  • 10 drops Peppermint essential oil
  • 30ml carrier oil


Massage both legs gently in an upward direction, and finally massage the whole of both feet, to stimulate the blood flow and increase the warmth in the feet and legs before sleep. 

Use this essential oils healing remedy as often as you can, nightly if possible, to help relieve this condition and get a good night’s sleep.

Muscle Aches/Pain

Muscle pain, or Myalgia, is most commonly produced through muscle strain or overuse of any muscle in the musculoskeletal system.  It usually goes away by itself but if not then it does require some investigation. 

It may be the result of medication, infections or an autoimmune disorder. 

Rest is the best initial treatment.  If the pain gets very bad it is suggested that you seek medical advice for some underlying cause.

Essential Oil Recipe for Muscle Aches

For general myalgia use essential oils for the musculoskeletal system in the bath or as a massage.  


  • 10 drops of Eucalyptus essential oil
  • 10 drops of Peppermint essential oil
  • 10 drops of Ginger essential oil
  • 30 ml of carrier oil


Blend together and gently massage over the sore muscles.


Essential oils for Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is also called the Brittle Bone disease of the musculoskeletal system and it is well named. Over time the bones lose their density and become more porous and thus more fragile and susceptible to breaking. If they are very porous then just a gentle knock on the bone or standing too quickly can fracture the bone. The most common bones to fracture or break are those in the arm, hip and spine. The bones become like that through loss of calcium.

The highest percentage of people to develop Osteoporosis are women.  However men are inclined to develop it too – something for men to be mindful of. 

Bones are living tissues and like everything in the body bones are constantly being renewed – that is old cells are replaced with new cells.  In the early years of life more calcium is laid down in the bones than is reabsorbed by the body so the bones form strong density and reach peak bone mass by the end of the teenage years.

Osteoporosis is a slow process of developing this lack of calcium and people often are unaware of its presence until they have a fracture from something as simple as a fall. If calcium is not taken regularly from early years then when menopause comes there is not a lot of strength, ie calcium build up, in the bones and after menopause oestrogen production slows. 

This hormone is essential for the laying down of bone – so now there is more loss of bone than is being renewed, the opposite of the early years of life. It is estimated that in the five years after menopause a women can lose up to 10 % of her bone density.  And this continues throughout the rest of her life.

Exercise is a must!  Supplements of calcium and Vitamin D are a good idea too. 

It is recommended to increase your exercise as you get older because this triggers the brain to lay down more bone in the skeleton because you need strength in the bones to be able to walk. 

Loss of bone density can cause the classic “dowagers hump” which is when the spine loses its density and starts to shrink.  This causes discomfort and pain as a result of fractures in the spine. 

Essential Oil Recipe for Osteoporosis

Using the best essential oils for the musculoskeletal system like Black Pepper, Clover and Rosemary in the bath or a footbath is helpful. Use a combination of some or all of these oils to a maximum of 3-5 drops at one time.

A regular massage using these essential oils in a ratio of 30 drops to 30ml carrier oil can help with the laying down of calcium.  

Tired and Aching Feet

Do you stand a lot every day? 

Do you walk a lot every day?

Do you wear tight shoes or high heels? 

Do you suffer from feet infections?

The best thing to do to help relieve this musculosketetal system response to overdoing it is to bathe the feet regularly in hot water using essential oils to combat the pressures we place on our feet. 

After all, the feet carry our weight and keep us mobile so they do need to be cared for.

Essential Oil Recipe for Tired and Aching Feet

Geranium for Tired Feet

Footbath for Tired Feet

Put 3 drops each of Pine, Rosemary, Peppermint and Tea Tree essential oils in a footbath filled with warm water.  Soak both feet for at least 10 minutes.  Bliss!

Essential oils to help here would be Clary Sage, Geranium and Basil.

These pure essential oils are wonderful in a footbath. Very relaxing and so good for aching feet. Add a couple of drops of one or more of these essential oils and feel the difference!