This article has been reviewed and approved by Dr. Madhavachandran for authenticity and medical correctness on 11 Jun 2020

All about Back pain Ayurveda

Back pain is a problem that can affect almost anyone. It is one of the most common reasons for people to miss work. Studies show that all adults will have back pain at least once in their life.

It usually is due to problems with ligaments, muscles, or nerves in the lower back or spine area.

There are many treatments available for this. Ayurvedic treatment for back pain is very effective. You can avoid surgery in most cases with these treatments.

What causes back pain?

Back pain can be acute or chronic. Acute back pain usually is due to a sudden movement or lifting weights. It lasts for about one to six weeks. Chronic back pain is more severe and can continue for long periods.

The most common reasons for back pain are

  • Strains: Muscle or ligament strains can happen due to a sudden movement or due to the lifting of weights.
  • Structural problems: There are discs between vertebrae in your spine. These are soft tissues which at times, may bulge or rupture. It can press against the nerves causing back pain.
  • Arthritis: Osteoarthritis can damage the cartilage of joints in the lower back can cause back pain
  • Osteoporosis: Fractures due to the loss of bone strength, due to this condition, can lead to severe back pain.
  • Osteophytes: Calcium deposits near nerve roots can be the reason for extra pressure on nerves. It can be a cause of back pain.
  • Infections: Bacterial or fungal infections of the spine can be another reason for your back pain
  • Spinal tumor and cancer
  • Kidney stone or other kidney diseases

Risk factors of back pain

Back pain can happen to anyone at any time. However, some factors will put you more at risk. These are

  • Age: You will have more wear and tear as you age. Back pain is more common in those over 30 years of age.
  • Weight: You are more at risk of having back pain if you are overweight
  • Lifestyle: Inactive lifestyle increases the chance of back pain
  • Work hazards: Jobs that need you to bend often and those that need you to lift weights make you prone to back pain
  • Smoking: It is a risk factor as smoking affects the flow of blood to your spine
  • Medical conditions: Diseases like cancer, arthritis, etc. can cause back pain

Symptoms of back pain

The signs and symptoms of back pain include 

  • Muscle aches in the lower back area
  • Shooting pain that radiates down the leg to the foot
  • Pain that increases while bending, standing, walking
  • Not able to stand up without feeling pain

 

These signs can also be due to a sprain. If it is due to that, it will typically go away in a few days. If the signs exist for a more extended time, it could be due to chronic back pain.

If your condition is severe, there will be more signs such as

  • Loss of bowel or bladder control
  • Numbness in your legs, buttocks, genitals
  • Weight loss without reason
  • Fever
  • Difficulty while urinating

Diagnosis of back pain

Your doctor will check your back and the way you walk, sit, and stand. You will have to go for some tests to confirm the back pain. These include

  • X-rays which shows the alignment of your bones and if there is any breaking of the bones
  • MRI or CT scans which will show any disc hernias or other issues with your bone, nerves
  • Blood tests to check if there are any infections or other diseases
  • EMG to test nerve condition

Ayurveda and back pain

As per Ayurveda, the three doshas or energy forces need to be in balance for us to be healthy. These doshas are Vata, Pitta, and Kapha.

Vata dosha controls all the circulation, body movements, and movement of air in the body. Pitta controls the digestion, and Kapha gives the structure and lubrication in our body. 

Inactive lifestyle, junk food, and other improper food habits all lead to issues with digestion. They create toxins or Ama in Ayurveda. These, along with age and other factors, block the circulation channels in your body. It causes a Vata disturbance.

The name for back pain in Ayurveda is 'Kati shoola'. Back pain is a Vata disorder in Ayurveda. Since Vata dosha disturbance affects Kapha and Pitta, they will also get aggravated. So while back pain is mainly a Vata disorder, the other two doshas also contribute to it. 

The signs differ based on the type of dosha, which has aggravated the most.

Vata dosha type will lead to sharp, throbbing pain. The pain will be intense, and you can feel it moving. It occurs mostly in the morning and cold climate. The pain will subside once the muscles are warm. 

Pitta type is a steady burning pain mostly in the middle part of your body. The pain tends to stay in one place only 

Ayurvedic treatment for back pain

The treatment aims at pacifying the doshas. The main treatment methods in Ayurveda for back pain are:

  • Lepanam – Application of medicinal paste to remove inflammation.
  • Swedanam -  It is the application of external heat to sweat the affected part. It will reduce pain due to inflammation.
  • Abhyangam - It is a full body massage using medicated oils. It relieves pain, reduces muscle stiffness, improves your blood circulation, and lubricates your joints.
  • Kati Vasti- It involves pouring warm medicated oil over your lower back into a pool made of black gram paste or wheat flour. The pool will hold warm oil for some time. 
  • Pizhichil- This is about pouring warm medicated oil over your body. It improves your muscle tone and strengthens them. Both "Snehanam" (oil application) and "Swedanam" (sweating) happen at the same time.
  • Kizhi- In this method, you will have a massage using a bag with heated herbal powders, rice, etc. It helps in pacifying the Vata and reduces the pain.

 

Various Panchakarma methods such as Vasti-It is medical enema to flush out toxins from your body.

Along with this, your diet and lifestyle regimen are to be corrected.

Your doctor will decide the right treatment methods as per your condition. You will need to be in the hospital for 14-21 days for the treatment. 

You may have to continue Ayurvedic medicines (both internal as well as external) at home for some time.

Other treatments for back pain

If your condition is severe or chronic, you will need some treatment. The options other than Ayurveda for back pain are medication, physical therapies, rest. In some cases, your doctor may even suggest surgery.

In some cases, various ergonomic equipment is helpful.

The common medicines include pain relievers like ibuprofen, muscle relaxants, creams, ointments, antidepressants, and injections.

How to prevent back pain?

You can avoid back pain by following some of the tips such as

  • Regular exercise, like walking and swimming, can help in reducing the risk of back pain.
  • Build muscle strength through core exercises
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Stop smoking
  • Practice proper postures while sitting and walking
  • Stretch regularly if your work makes you sit a lot in one place
  • Be careful while lifting weights
  • Wear comfortable and lightweight shoes
  • Practice Yoga regularly

Ayurvedic treatment for Back pain
Ayurvedic treatment for Back pain

References / Additional Reading
This article has been reviewed by Dr. Madhavachandran for authenticity and medical correctness on 11 Jun 2020
Dr. Madhavachandran
Dr. Madhavachandran
BAMS (Bachelor of Ayurvedic Medicine and Surgery), FABMS
Dr. Madhavachandran BAMS, FABMS is the Chief Physician and Chief Technical Officer of Rasayana Ayurveda Centre, Ezhakkaranad, Ernakulam District, Kerala. He has got 25 years of professional experience. He has vast experience in treating various diseases. He has 19 scientific publications in high impact International Research Journals. He has carried out studies on Geriatrics, infertility, malignancy, neuro muscular diseases and preventive cardiology. He is also a person well known in the field of new drug development.
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