The bottle of essential oil with herbs rosemary, oregano, sage,

Essential oils commonly used in massage and aromatherapy are effective in relieving sore muscles, aches and pains. Rotator cuff tendinitis (also known as pitcher's shoulder or impingement syndrome) is inflammation of the tendons around the shoulder joint. These tendons may become inflamed due to arthritis, injury or overuse. The essential oils listed below are specifically used to relieve pain and inflammation, and can be applied to the shoulder or other joints of the body.


Lavender is one of the most popular essential oils used as of October 2009. The National Institute of Health (NIH) recognizes that lavender essential oil used in aromatherapy can be relaxing and relieve anxiety. It also notes there is enough evidence to suggest lavender has a small positive effect. The NIH lists several uses of lavender essential oil, including pain, neck pain, low back pain, and overall well-being. Lavender oil used in massage therapy is not only useful for relaxation, but it may be helpful in relieving pain and inflammation associated with rotator cuff tendinitis.


Peppermint oil is one of the least expensive and most readily available therapeutic oils. It also is one of the few essential oils considered safe for internal use. It is commonly found in toothpastes, gums and teas. Used topically, it helps to relax tense muscles. According to a study by the University of Maryland Medicine, it has even been shown to help relieve tension headaches. Peppermint oil is used in massage and aromatherapy to relieve sore muscles and for general aches and pains.


According to an article in Massage Today by Licensed Massage Therapist Shellie Enteen, "chamomile is a highly effective anti-inflammatory." Inflammation is one of the chief causes of pain with rotator cuff tendinitis. Chamomile essential oil also is used for headache, muscle pain and low back pain.

Clary Sage

Clary sage is commonly used in massage because it is beneficial in relieving muscle spasm and cramps. It has a powerful relaxing effect and is often combined with chamomile to relieve tension and stress.

Sweet Marjoram

Sweet marjoram is another pain reliever and is also mildly sedative, but it has powerful effects on pain and stiffness. It is recommended for rheumatoid and osteoarthritis, which makes it an excellent choice for inflammation of the shoulders and other joints.


Vetiver is a little-known oil that is used for arthritis, stiffness, pain and muscle soreness, all of which are symptoms of rotator cuff tendinitis. According to Shellie Enteen, LMT, vetiver "increases venous circulation to help detoxification of tissues."

Method of use

To use essential oils therapeutically, add two to three drops of any of the above oils to jojoba or other carrier oil in the palm of the hand. Rub gently into the shoulder, neck, upper arm and under arm area. Experiment and try combining two or more oils to enhance the effects. Lavender and sweet marjoram, or peppermint and chamomile make nice blends. After rubbing into the shoulder area, apply a heating pad or hot water bottle for 10 to 15 minutes and allow the oils to penetrate the shoulder joint. Wash hands thoroughly to avoid getting the oils into the eyes.