What is Back Pain?
Back pain is one of the most common pain disorders. Studies show that more than 70% of the people experience back pain at least once during their lifetime. While both men and women suffer from this, this is more commonly seen in women. People from ages 30-60 are more prone to back pain.
Back pain is linked to spine, discs in the spine either in the cervical region (neck pain) or in the lumbar area of the spine (lower back). Lower back pain is seen as the most common back pain issue with more than one third of the cases falling under it.
Causes and Symptoms of Back Pain
Spinal column is made of vertebras (individual bones) which extends from the skull to the pelvis. These are divided into 4 regions starting with the cervical region in the top (neck region) and then thoracic, lumbar and sacrum. There are spinal discs which exists between these vertebras which acts as a cushion or lubrication between these vertebras or bones. Back pain is typically due to the degeneration, compression, wear and tear in these regions.
Common causes for back pain are related to lifting of weights, over exercise, injury from falls, incorrect posture, sedentary lifestyle with very little exercise etc. Other medical issues like scoliosis, spinal stenosis, slip disc etc. can also result in back pain.
Symptoms are generally severe pain in the back and hip region, numbness in the legs, muscle spasms etc. Pain can be either acute where there will be severe pain which comes suddenly and persists for a few weeks to couple of months or chronic where the pain builds up gradually over a long period.
General physicians can diagnose back pain complaints based on a physical examination of the person. In some cases, doctors may advise for an X-Ray, MRI scan or a bone scan to determine the nature and extent of the problem.
Treatment for Back Pain
Usually back pain is treated using analgesic and/or anti-inflammatory medicines. Other treatment methods include strengthening exercises, physical therapy etc. In some advanced cases, even surgeries like laminectomy (to remove the lamina that covers the back part of the vertebra), Vertebroplasty and Kyphoplasty (to repair spine compressions) are performed.
Ayurveda, the traditional Indian medicine system, has very effective treatments for back pain.
Ayurvedic treatment for Back Pain
Ayurveda views back pain (or Nithambashoola which is the name of back pain in Ayurveda texts) as a disease caused due to the aggravation of vata dosha. So treatment is aimed at pacifying the vata dosha and bring it back in balance with Kapha and Pitta doshas.
The main treatment is Kati Vasthy (also called as Kati Basti) where medicated oil is poured on the back of the person. The person is made to lie on the stomach on a wooden plank. A mixture of black gram powder or wheat powder is made into a dough and this dough is then put on the lumbar back region of the person in the shape of a ring. Hot medicated oil is poured into this dough ring and would be left there for retention. This oil will ooze through the ring to the lumbar back area. When the oil gets cold, it is removed from the ring and hot oil is poured back. This procedure is repeated for 30-45 minutes based on the condition of the patient.
Duration and cost of Ayurvedic treatment for back pain
Treatment duration will typically be between 14-21 days based on the condition of the patient. Cost of Ayurvedic treatment for back pain would be between 900 to 2,800 USD. The wide range is because the cost depends on the duration of the treatment, type of hospital and the type of room chosen. Bystander is necessary in cases where the patient cannot manage their daily activities on their own.
Dos and Don’ts to avoid back pain
Perform stretching exercises before starting any major exercise or activity requiring physical exertion
Ensure that right posture is maintained while standing, walking, sitting and sleeping
Use chairs with good lumbar support in offices especially those who have desk jobs
Sleep on a firm surface and it is better to sleep on one’s side rather than on the back or belly.
Quit smoking as smokers are seen to be at a much higher risk of back pain
Ensure that the right and comfortable shoes are used