During the months I spent studying for the USMLE Step 1 exam (United States Medical License Examination), I eventually developed a literal pain in the neck; aside from the pain in the neck that I received from studying all those months for one of the hardest exams, I have ever taken.
See, I decided that it would be neat, to purchase a side table that I could use as a desk and after studying was over, use it as a side piece in my bedroom. Yeah, that was a pretty bad idea. The height of that side table, wasn’t adequate enough and appropriate enough, to prevent me from finishing off those months, with chronic neck pain.
I blame the constant having my head down at a certain, unnatural angle, for hours upon hours a day for a good 3-4 months, for the problem I developed. Now initially, the neck pain wasn’t anything that a good massage or a little neck rotational exercises, couldn’t treat. Then out of no where, with the combination of working as a stressed out intern and having a chronic neck problem; the pain started to become pretty intense.
Initially, I used Muscle DP (which I will discuss in another post), which didn’t really help much. Then moved onto Ibuprofen, at 800 mgs per day as a loading dose and reduced it to 400 mg per day; which actually gave me some significant relief. Unfortunately, I had to use one of those neck pillows that you purchase, for long flights; while surfing the internet or watching TV.
Then, after a couple of months, ibuprofen stopped working; although I reduced the frequency of my usage to PRN (as needed), so that I don’t develop one of the unfortunate side effects of NSAIDs; peptic ulcer. Although I did use a PPI (proton pump inhibitor; omeprazole), to help protect my stomach lining, I still wanted to reduce my risk even more, by not using it as often.
Even when I increased my usage of the Ibuprofen, after the pain started becoming a 6-7/10 in severity, it didn’t seem to be working at all. Also, at the end of the day, as much as I am a doctor, I do recognize the risks associated with certain over the counter medications and NSAIDs aren’t something to play around with, as if it’s candy. So I needed to find an alternative.
The non-medicinal choice, showed to be the most beneficial. Funny enough, it was my brother, who is a doctor also, suggested using an essential oil. Now, I misheard him and instead of using the eucalyptus essential oil, I used the peppermint essential oil.
A Little About Peppermint Oil
Peppermint oil is derived from the peppermint leaf. It is predominantly found in Europe and North America. Thankfully, due to its’ medicinal use, it is being grown everywhere all over the world.
Benefits Peppermint Essential Oil
Peppermint Essential Oil, doesn’t just smell wonderful and goes perfectly with your oil diffuser, but it has a lot of benefit when it comes to muscle soreness. Peppermint has anaglesic, anti-inflammatory and anti-spasmic properties. So not only does it provide pain relief, but it also helps reduced inflammation and relieves pain related to spasms (think lower back pain or chronic neck pain). It also has menthol in it, which gives you a cooling effect, when applied directly to the skin.
Because of the anti-spasmic effects, it is believed that Peppermint oil can provide some relief in IBS – Irritable Bowel Syndrome. It is also believed to have benefits in endoscopy procedures, to assist with the reduction of spasms.
Peppermint oil has various other benefits, but it’s very helpful in neck or lower back pain.
As with everything, there are side effects and peppermint oil isn’t any stranger to that; allergic reactions, and heart burn can be seen. This generally occurs with the topical and oral route of the oil.
Peppermint can have some drug interaction, that can prevent the proper metabolism of the medication and can have adverse side effects. This is why it is important to consult your doctor, perform utilizing peppermint oil to assist with any aches and pains you may have.
Article was written for education purposes only.