Back Pain – An Ayurvedic Perspective
Ayurvedic Treatment for Back Pain
Today we would be talking about Back Pain.
Back Pain is not a disease in itself but it is a symptom which arises due to some wrong practices or other diseases. Wrong postures like keeping in sitting position for a long duration or wrong bending , or sleeping postures directly and adversely impact our spine and embedded sensitive nerves. As a result, back ache begins at young age itself. As a matter of fact, this back pain is a modern gift of modern lifestyle which involves fast life and lack of physical exercises, lack of balanced nutrition, increased body weight and excessive mental tension, or worries. All of these create pressure on waist muscles and joints and thus back pain erupts.
Let us discuss this problem with Dr. Parmeshwar Arora.
Q. I would not call it a serious disease but generally due to modern lifestyle, people complain about Back Pain quite often. What can be the reason?
As you said, due to modern lifestyle, back pain has almost become a life-partner, be it ladies or gents. If we talk about its reasons then mechanical reasons would top the list. Somehow, because of lack of regular exercises, we are not maintaining the flexibility of spine. We don’t practice oil massage these days and then, long sittings, prolonged upright position, long drives etc. – all of these comprise mechanical reasons which give rise to back pain in almost all of us, irrespective of gender.
Q. If someone has this problem for a long time and he is unable to find a definite reason for it. It seems that the pain is triggered by some actions like bending or standing for long duration or stiffness in the body. If it is going on for a long time, can it have some complications?
If you have consulted a doctor and all the objective parameters as well as subjective parameters have been investigated like CT scan, X-ray, MRI, Blood tests etc. have all been done, and still there is no diagnosis till yet, then I’ll again say….as a saying goes – if there is a pain then reason is vat( vayu or air). Modern habits involve distancing ourselves from oil which somewhere disturbs vayu in our body. Wherever air will accumulate, pain will be created. So if this is the situation that even after consulting a doctor and going through entire investigation , no diagnosis has been ascertained, then make an attempt to control the accumulated vayu or air. Start practicing oil massage, and take vat shamak kadha which we recommend. We also suggest some exercises. Practice them and you will definitely see improvement. Your question was when there are no apparent reasons then what can be the reason for back pain, so my answer is obviously Vayu.
Q. What are the symptoms…obviously someone has back pain he’ll say he has lower back pain but actually are there any general symptoms like the back pain is not associated with a trigger as such?
See, here we’ll need to go to the cause. For example, if someone has back pain due to tuberculosis, then tuberculosis has other symptoms like weight loss, decreased appetite and evening rise in body temperature. So these symptoms will also be associated with back pain. Similarly in rheumatism condition, other symptoms will include shivering, pain in different body parts, problem in digestive system etc.. If there are degenerative changes then back pain will be associated with pain in other body parts like knees etc. Because degenerative changes happen everywhere simultaneously. So it will depend upon the cause that what other symptoms would the patient experience. Definitely, according to cause, symptoms will show up. Sometimes, Back pain is due to compression of nerves, which is termed as Sciatica. In this conditions, while passing through, sciatic nerves get pressed by vertebrae and this causes severe pain. Patient complains about pain not being limited to waist but being carried to one of the legs till toes. Thus, symptoms are created according to the cause.
Q. Doctor, there is a condition when back pain is very common. I am talking about pregnancy…Pregnant women often complain about back pain? What’s the reason?
While discussing the reasons of back pain, I had mentioned to you that mechanical reasons are the major reason for such pains. A pregnant lady is carrying weight, similarly obesity patients who have abnormal body weight, are quite prone to back pains. Most of the patients coming in for back pain related consultation are overweight or they over-use, e.g. They do a lot activities involving bending, weight lifting etc.. In case of pregnant ladies, they are continuously carrying a weight which is not their natural weight. So they have disturbed posture, they may feel comfortable lying on a particular side. So, I would say mechanical reasons are mainly responsible for back pain in pregnant ladies.
Q. Generally if someone has less flexibility in his body, can he have the back pain, too?
Of course! If there is no flexibility in our body, and then if suddenly there is a shock, or suddenly we need to bend, or suddenly we need to lift something heavy, obviously we do it at that time. But when we come back home, sleep overnight and get up in the morning with backache, we recall that act. So, somewhere with a decrease in elasticity or flexibility, we become more and more prone to back pain.
Q. Doctor as we all know everything has some Dos and Don’ts, so what should we do and what should we not do to avoid Back pain?
See, as the saying goes… too much of anything is bad. If you have a sitting job and you have to sit continuously for as long as twelve hours, then this is certainly not advisable. You should take regular breaks, and you should do stretching in between too. Because the flexion posture in which we sit while bending forward (keeping spine in flex position), is a major cause of back pain. You should be careful about your posture while sitting and try to keep your back and spine, straight.
If possible, you should practice extension exercises like shalab asan, bhujang asan etc., daily. If you watch your posture, I mean, I can’t ask you to quit your job….obviously it is your job and you have to do it. If you have to work on computer, you have to do it but if it is extensive you can compensate it with counter activities like taking walks, doing exercises, taking oil massage….you need to do them. This will ensure balance and hence you will have no problems.
Q. Alright, you told us so many things but does Ayurveda have something to offer for this, like you mentioned oil massage. Do you recommend some specific oil for this?
Like always I will take two names here, one of them targets lubrication of the body parts and the other other’s job will be to relieve pain and swelling. You should heat Maha-vishgarbh oil and massage your waist with it, then rub Nilgiriyadi oil over it for some time. Routine practice of this massage will provide relief from pain as well as give flexibility. If you were dependent on painkillers, then that will get reduced to a great extent.
But again I would repeat myself, this remedy is for back pain arising due to mechanical reasons. But if the cause is some other disease then, we need to target that disease. If your back pain is due to calculus (stone) then you need to treat the patient for calculus and not back pain. If along with mechanical problem there is nerve compression, then we can use Ashwagandhadhiyog. Ashwagandha is such a rasayan substance which stops degeneration and strengthens nerves and is considered to be a good nervine tonic. 1 gram or two capsules of Ashwagandhadhiyog has to be taken.
Kupeenowadi vati is very effective because it contains naksbhumika which strengthens nerves, helps in releasing compressed nerves. We also recommend calcium to patients. So prabhaladi yog is quite effective here. These are the things which are performing rejuvenation as well as strengthening nerves as well as replenishing calcium levels. In case of swelling you should take a combination of Dashmularisht and mandukvatak. This combination will provide relief in case of swelling. Apart from this, there is kativasti in panchkarma, in which we create a boundary wall around the affected area and then fill it with oil.
The objective is to provide lubrication and suppress the vayu in that area using oil. According to Ayurveda, oil is considered as the best thing against vayu and the reason behind this concept is…..see this is science age and why I am again and again recommending oil for any vatic disorder(or pain) is because the first principal states that -pain can not exist without vayu or wherever there is pain, vayu has to be there and oil is the best thing against vayu…. similar qualities aggravates that particular quality and the opposite quality destroys it. For example, if you are feeling cold and you are made to sit in cold place or consume cold water, your problem will aggravate but if you are given warm drinks and made to sit in a warm place, you will feel better. So, we should adopt the same principle in our life – if vayu is creating problems then we need to observe the qualities of vayu and choose a substance whose qualities are completely opposite than those of vayu.