AYURVEDIC TREATMENT FOR BACK PAIN
MANAGE BACK PAIN WITH AYURVEDIC TREATMENTS AND YOGA THERAPY
Back pain can be a debilitating condition. It generally affects individuals in the age group of 30 and 50 either as a result of the ageing process or the sedentary lifestyles of most people today. Genetics has a role to play here as well. For example, lumbar disc degeneration, a disorder causing lower back pain can be passed on through genes. About 65-80 per cent of the people with the condition have inherited it from their family.
Back pain may be constant or occur occasionally. It might start at one place and then radiate to other parts of the body. Chronic back pain can restrict your range of movement, increase your dependency on others and be extremely painful. Back pain is considered to have become chronic if it has persisted for more than three months. Usually, it is a progressive disorder and its causes can be difficult to determine.
The most common and obvious symptom is the frequent pain turning unbearable or severe at times. Back pain may also be accompanied by back pain symptoms like faecal or urinary incontinence, redness and oedema of
the lower back, rise in body temperature, fever and chills, difficulty in urination, etc. They could be an indication of a severe underlying problem, so it is advisable to consult with a doctor during the early onset of these symptoms.
Other symptoms of back pain include –
- Weight loss
- Numbness of pelvic region or in one or both the legs
- Pain that radiates down the leg
- Inability to stand up straight
- Limited range of motion of the back
- Aggravation of pain with the least movement
- Pain that may intensify at night
Back pain can occur without a definite cause. However, some of the conditions that are commonly associated with back pain are mentioned as follows:
Straining of muscles or ligament: This could happen due to repeated heavy lifting or a sprain from a sudden awkward movement.
Spinal degeneration: The discs of the spine may suffer from wear and tear which can lead to narrowing of the spinal cord. This causes stiffness in the back, and the person may experience pain after walking or standing for a long time.
Bulging or ruptured spinal discs: Sometimes, the discs bulge out of the spine or rupture and press on a nerve causing pain.
Irregularities in the spinal structure: Back pain also occurs when the spine curves abnormally. Scoliosis, a condition in which the spine curves sideways, may cause pain if it is severe.
Osteoarthritis and osteoporosis: Osteoarthritis usually affects the lower back, while in osteoporosis, the bones become porous and brittle causing compression fractures on the spine.
Spondylitis: It is a chronic condition causing back pain and stiffness due to infection or inflammation of the spinal joints. Other inflammatory conditions that can lead to back pain are osteomyelitis and sacroiliitis.
Fibromyalgia: It is a chronic disorder that manifests as musculoskeletal pain, fatigue and tenderness in the neck, spine, shoulders and hips.
Ayurvedic Treatment for Back pain
Ayurveda describes back pain as ‘Kati Shoola’, where ‘Kati’ refers to the lower back and ‘Shoola’ refers to pain. It also goes by the names of Kati Vata, Kati Graha, Trika Graha, Trika Shoola, and Prishta Shoola. As the back pain is a condition caused due to the vitiation or predominance of Vata dosha in the body, it is categorised under Vataja Nanatmaja Vyadhi, which literally translates as diseases occurring from Vata.
The Vata dosha is said to be superior to other doshas in several aspects, such as guna, lakshana, kriya, health benefits as well as producing diseases. The pain arising due to Vata imbalance are several and usually manifest themselves in the whole body. Although the abnormality of Vata in the body can present a large number of symptoms, the cardinal indicator of its imbalance or aggravation is pain.
Ayurveda has laid down several methods and therapies for the treatment of back pain, which may include Shodhana Chikitsa, internal and external administration of herbs and medicines, lifestyle and dietary changes.
Common therapies used in Ayurvedic treatment for lower back pain are:
Abhyangam: The Abhyangam is an ancient Ayurvedic treatment for spine problems, which is given as a part of the Panchakarma. It involves using copious amounts of herbal oils and massaging the whole body from head to toe. It works extremely well to grease up the joints, improve blood flow to them, soothing the nerves thereby alleviating pain in the back as well as other parts of the body.
Kati Vasti: In Kati Vasti Ayurvedic treatment for back pain, warm Ayurvedic oil is poured over the lower back pooling inside a well created by dark gram flue or wheat flour. This soothes the muscles at the base of the spine and can effectively offer relief from conditions like sciatica, lumbar spondylosis and lumbago. For the therapy, potent oils may also be used which can enter deep into the tissues and lubricate the vertebrae.
Kati Vasti is known to remove any blockage in the lower chakras facilitating the free flow of Prana (life force) through the spine and body.
Pizhichil: This Kerala Ayurvedic treatment for back pain involves the pouring of warm herbal oil either on a specific region or all over the body massaging with relaxing strokes. It improves blood circulation and is quite beneficial for relieving weak, damaged or stiff muscles. Pizhichil, which means ‘to squeeze’ is a combination of two classic Ayurvedic therapies – Snehana and Swedana. Snehana therapy involves massaging the body with Ayurvedic oils, while Swedana is used to induce sweat through fomentation.
Kizhi: In the Kizhi therapy, little bags or pouches are prepared using herbs, rice and powders tied in a muslin material. The pouches are then heated on a pan and are gently rubbed or pounded on the body. The warmth produced by Kizhi soothes disturbed Vata and Vata-Kapha conditions and restores vigour and vitality.
Sneha Vasti: It involves the administration of medicated ghee or oil for colonic detoxification and elimination of toxins from the lower body. This Ayurveda treatment for back pain reduces pain in the lower back and symptoms of gout and rheumatism.
Kashaya Vasti: In Kashaya Vasti, enema is done with medicated decoction and is beneficial for relieving paralysis, neurological ailments, lower back pain, gout and rheumatism.
Ayurvedic Herbs for Back Pain
The herbs used in the Ayurvedic treatment of back pain aim at restoring the balance of the doshas that are responsible for your condition.
Some of the herbs that can be used are –
Application of medicated paste or powder: Medicated paste or powder may be applied externally in the acute stage to alleviate oedema, pain and burning sensation.
Zingiber Officinale or ginger: It has anti-inflammatory properties which make it an ideal herb for providing relief from back pain. A mixture of ginger and rock candy can be added to warm water and taken daily for warming the joints.
Cinnamomum Camphora: Also known as camphor or ‘karpoor’, it can be added to a herbal oil base or just coconut oil and boiled for a few minutes to be used as a pain-soothing massage oil.
Withania Somnifera or Ashwagandha: The Ashwagandha or Indian ginseng is a wonder herb that boosts circulation, relaxes the blood vessels and strengthens the body from within. It is quite useful in the management of autoimmune disorders like rheumatoid arthritis.
Eucalyptus: Eucalyptus oil is an excellent medicine for lower back pain and can be very comforting when used for massages. It can also be added to bathwater for pain relief.
Fenugreek: Fenugreek seeds can be roasted, ground with some rock salt, and added to hot water to wash over the affected area.
According to Ayurveda, like increases like, and consuming foods that are cold in nature can further aggravate the Vata dosha leading to worsening of the pain. Cold food or drinks create constriction and congestion in the body, which should be avoided at all costs. Moreover, it is also recommended to avoid or limit foods that are hard to digest such as kidney beans, pulses, milk, caffeine, etc.
Here are a few tips to help you decide what foods to include:
- Consume salads made from vegetables like carrot, cabbage, tomato, cucumber, radish, etc. Vegetables like cabbage, spinach, cauliflower can be steamed or lightly cooked before consumption. It is advisable to avoid bananas.
- Avoid foods that are processed, spicy, fried and are high in fats. You also have to cut down on sugar, condiments, tea and coffee.
- Add fibre rich foods to your diet to avoid constipation as that could worsen the strain on the back and abdomen.
- Taking dairy products is fine, but curd needs to be avoided. A daily dose of calcium and vitamin D from the dairy products will help to strengthen the spinal bones.
- Include omega-3 fatty acids in your diet. Good omega-3 sources are cold-water fish like salmon, tuna, herring, nuts and seeds like walnuts, chia seeds, etc.
Lifestyle Changes to avoid back pain
Having a lifestyle that doesn’t disturb the natural bodily rhythms is essential to maintain good health and avoid diseases. Constant deviations from the daily habits of eating, resting and exercising will gradually rob the body of its healing abilities. Therefore, back pain treatment in Ayurveda is focused on maintaining healthy habits, good diet and herbal remedies and therapies.
Some of the lifestyle changes that you need to make to alleviate back pain are –
- Smoking is the number one avoidable risk factor for a number of diseases. So, you need to quit smoking or taking tobacco completely.
- Make sure that you are sleeping with your back aligned straight against the ground. Sleeping on a soft mattress doesn’t do good to provide proper support to the spine.
- While sitting at your home or workplace, use an ergonomic chair where your back makes complete contact with the chair. You can also use a pillow to support your back.
- Avoid sitting in a cramped position. Also, ensure that you are not sitting at one place for long periods.
- Maintain a good posture at all times. It is essential to maintain spinal health.
- Avoid wearing ill-fitting shoes or high heels.
- Practice yoga: Some of the yoga techniques for a stronger back are Bhujanasana (the Cobra pose), Shalabhasana (the Locust Pose), Halasana (the Plough pose), Shavasana (the Corpse Pose), and alternate nostril breathing or Anulom Vilom Pranayam.
Finding Relief for Back Pain
Ayurveda explains that the problem of back pain is a manifestation of vitiated Vata accompanied by weakness of bones and muscles. At Govardhan EcoVillage, we offer several Ayurvedic therapies, medications and yoga techniques to help you get the much-needed relief from back pain as well as maintain the equilibrium among the body doshas.
We follow a natural and holistic approach to treating back pain. Hence, the treatment methods that we use doesn’t just target the aching area but aims at bringing the entire body in balance. Reach out to our team of experienced physicians and Ayurveda practitioners and get started on the journey to overall wellbeing.
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