Ayurveda for Low Back Pain

altFour out of five adults experience significant low back pain during their lifetime.

Low back pain often begins suddenly, and may follow an obvious strain or injury, but may seem to come on ‘out of the blue’, or gradually. The pain may travel to or be felt elsewhere. It often goes into the buttocks, but may go further down the leg and even to the foot. The muscles of the back may go into painful spasm.

Causes of Low Back Pain

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Low back pain can be caused by a number of factors from injuries to the effects of aging.

1. Back pain associated with nerve root pain; the commonest causes are intervertebral disc prolapse and compression of nerve roots within the neural canals.
2. Back pain found in association with spinal pathology such as vertebral infections, tumors, ankylosing spondylitis, poly arthritis, Paget’s disease and primary neurological disease.
3. Back pain caused by disturbance of mechanics of the spine. eg: osteoporotic spinal fractures, senile kyphosis, spondylolisthesis, spinal osteochondrosis, and sometimes osteoarthritis.
4. In other cases, although the symptoms may be identical in character, the cause can’t be determined with accuracy; these cases of back pain attracted many emotive names such as lumbago, low back strain etc.

Management of Low Back Pain

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The ayurvedic treatments are much personalized and it varies according to the root cause. The causes are determined by taking history, physical examination, laboratory tests, radiographic evaluation, MRI, CT, Bone scanning, electro-diagnostic assessments.

Ayurveda offers a wide range of treatment procedures for low back pain including internal medications and external treatments.

1. Internal medicines

Various medicines in the form of

· Decoctions (eg: Rasna Sapthakam, Sahacharadi)
· Pills (eg: Yogaraja guggulu, Chandraprabha),
· Herbal wines (eg: Balarishtam, Dhanwanthararishtam);
· Herbal powders (eg: Shaddharanam)
· Oils (eg: Ksheera bala, Dhanwantharam)
· Medicated ghees (eg: Guggulu thikthakam, Vidaryadi)
· Herbal jams (eg: Chyavana prasam, Dasamoola harithaki)

2. Virechanam

Purgatives like Gandharva hasthadi erendam, Nimbmrithadi erendam in appropriate dose gives excellent relief.

3. Vasthi

Enema treatments

· Sneha vasthi: Medicated oil is administered as enema.
· Kashaya vasthi: A special mixture of herbal decoctions, medicated oil, honey, herbal paste, rock salt is administered as enema.

4. External therapies

a. Pinda swedam

Application of warm herbal poultice/bags on the affected region or the whole body. There are different forms for this like:

· Elakkizhi

The ingredients are different leaves like castor, tamarind, calotropis, vitex etc. fried in neem oil with rock salt and lemon.

· Podikkizhi

The ingredients are different herbal powders like horse gram, fenugreek etc.

· Narangakkizhi

The main ingredient is lemon with rock salt.

· Navarakkizhi

A special rice named Navara, cooked in milk and herbal decoction is made into poultice.

· Manalkkizhi
Warm sand is also used in certain conditions.

b. Parishekam
This is a process in which the body part is made to perspire by continuously pouring luke warm herbal oils followed by gentle massage.

c. Avagaham
Patient is made to sit in a tub filled with luke warm herbal water.

d. Kadi vasthy
Warm medicated oil is allowed to stay in low back for 20-30 minutes.

e. Yoga & Physiotherapy

Practice under the supervision. Yoga postures like salabhasana, dhanurasana, bhujangasana, padahastasana, sarvangasana etc. is beneficial according to the varying causes.

Two Common Health Problems of Office Workers

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1. Tension build-ups

  • In air conditioned or closed indoors sufficient oxygen is not pumped into your bloodstream.
  • In an office atmosphere many emotions are released and more often controlled. This control of emotion leads to emotional stress and this leads to tension buildup.
  • Builds tension when persons are under deadline stress or have a feeling of job insecurity, then the anxiety stress leads to tension buildup.
  • In the office jobs natural movements are restricted and movements, which the body parts are unused to, are forced to perform continuously.

Tension buildup resulting from the above has its effect without our knowledge on various parts of our body. Tension build up results in muscles becoming tensed, sore and tender. The shoulder, neck and upper back are the main tension collecting areas of tension for most people.

2. Repetitive strain injury (RSI)

Sometimes called occupational overuse syndrome, is a growing problem among office workers. Because the office jobs involve small, repetitive movements all the day. RSI in the wrist, for example, often results from holding the arm still and moving the mouse using only your wrist. It's much better to move your arm, and keep the wrist relatively still. This can transfer strain to the upper arm and spine.

Some Solutions

Don’t think that there is a perfect working position, the human body is designed to move, not to sit still. So it's important to make sure that you constantly use different parts of the body.

Breathing is very important too. Try to breathe from the abdomen not the chest. Breathe by allowing the stomach to expand instead. With practice it feels natural and it has much wider health benefits as well.

It is simply not possible to use a keyboard for sixty hours a week without damaging your health, so try and find ways of getting away from the computer anyway. Write something longhand - fax a handwritten note to people from time to time instead of sending an e-mail.

Posture

Use a foot rest so that your legs are supported

Keep the back comfortably straight - in particular try not to let the lower back sag or the head stay bent forward

Make sure your forearms are roughly horizontal so that the desk supports them

Use the whole body more - don't allow movements to become too focused

Stretch regularly

Equipment

Don't tolerate a small or blurry screen

Replace your mouse at the first sign of wear

Change the relative positions of keyboard and screen regularly. For example, look left in the morning and right in the afternoon

Get a telephone headset if you're on the phone a lot. You'll be amazed how relaxing it is

Eye-to-screen distance: at least 25", preferably more.

Vertical location: viewing area of the monitor between 15° and 50° below horizontal eye level.

Monitor tilt: top of the monitor slightly farther from the eyes than the bottom of the monitor.

Lighting: ceiling suspended indirect lighting. Use blinds and shades to control outside light.

Screen colors: dark letters on a light background.

This buildup of tension can be reduced by a few simple tension-relieving yoga (exercise):

· Shoulder Circling

Sit on an armless chair or stool letting the hands hang loosely at your sides. Slowly move your shoulder forward in circular manner and repeat the same in a slow backward circular motion. Let your arms be free http://www.mensxp.com/health/body-building/6961-exercises-to-minimise-back-pain.html and easy.

· Shoulder Lift & squeeze

Sit with straight back with arms hang loosely at the sides. While inhaling slowly draw your shoulders upwards towards your ear. Exhale and squeeze the shoulder blades and lower the shoulders.

· Shoulder Blade squeeze

Clasp your hands behind you at normal sitting posture with the back straight. Inhale and draw straightened elbows towards each other squeezing your shoulder blades together.

· Neck- stretching

Neck muscles hold up the heaviest part of the body the head right through the day from the time we wake up till we go to sleep. Head turning in different directions; up, down, left, right, diagonal are best stretching for neck.

· Upper back stretching

Sit and interlace your fingers in front of you with your palms facing your knees. As you inhale push the palms away from you to above your head so that your palms are now facing the ceiling. While exhaling lower your arms to the start position.

· Chest expansion

Raise your arms sideways to shoulder levels. Exhale when forming fists with your hands and push your arms backward so as to create a light squeezing of the shoulder blade and shoulder muscle. Exhale as you bring your arms back to start position.

Low back pain can be said goodbye provided one sticks to Ayurveda and follow the above mentioned tips. 

altArticle by Dr. V.L.Shyam, MD, Mphil

Senior Vice President – Operations, Birla Kerala Vaidyashala Pvt Ltd, Dr. Shyam is a gold medalist in BAMS from Mahatma Gandhi University. He obtained his MD in Ayurvedic surgery from Kerala University in 2000; publishing the thesis work on ‘Management of Hemorrhoids’. He completed his MPhil in Business Management from BITS Pilani and also Spa Management
program from the Cleopatra & Steiner institute. Dr. Shyam is practicing medicine since 1997, made the first move in his career with Ayurveda teachings to conventional doctors. He then stepped in as the founder member of Softouch spa and played a key role in raising the organisation to an international level. During his initial Ayurvedic practice, he had a client list of famous Celebrities, Politicians and Rulers and was featured in BBC, Star News, Nippon TV, and leading media houses of India. He set the qualifying examination for the MD Ayurveda in the year 2000-2001 for the Govt. of Kerala. He shifted to UAE in the year 2001 to take charge of the Ayurveda spa at Kempinski hotel Ajman. He became the first Ayurvedic doctor licensed by the Ministry of Health, UAE in 2003. Shyam writes a weekly column on well-being in Gulf News, which today is one of the most read in the Middle East. He carries experience of setting & operating over 20 Spas with Kempinski, Le Meridien and Hilton hotels across Europe, Africa & Middle East. He was awarded the prestigious Hotelier Middle East award for the Spa person of the year 2007. Shyam is married to an Ayurveda teacher, Maya and they have a daughter, Thulsi. He also has a passion for painting and holds a professional training in Arts.

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