Lower back pain, or lumbago, can be a symptom of a wide array of medical problems, and usually is associated with issues within the ligaments, muscles, nerves and/or bony structures of the spine, and/or issues with nearby organs. Lumbago can be acute, sub-acute or chronic, and can be caused by:
- Muscle or ligament strain from repeated heavy lifting or a sudden awkward movement
- If one is of poor physical condition, then constant strain on one’s back can cause painful muscle spasms
- Bulging or ruptured disks
- Poor posture
- Sedentary lifestyle, pregnancy, obesity/excess weight
- Poorly supportive shoes
- Poor sitting habits/long periods of sitting
- Long periods of standing
Risk factors can include: Age, lack of exercise, excess weight, diseases, improper lifting, psychological conditions, and smoking.
Most back pain gets better within a month of home treatment. However, everyone is different, and back pain is a complex condition. For many, the pain doesn’t fully go away, with some experiencing persistent, severe pain.
Treatments can include: over the counter pain relievers, muscle relaxants, topical pain relievers, narcotics, anti-depressants, physical therapy, and for more severe cases: cortisone injections, radiofrequency neurotomy, implant nerve stimulators, and/or surgery.
Lifestyle changes/therapies can include: dietary modifications, losing any excess weight, exercise, massage therapy, complementary therapies, foot care, stress management, and getting adequate sleep.
Ayurvedic Approach to PCOS (Aarthava Kshaya):
According to Ayurveda – in addition to the above listed allopathic/conventional causes of back pain – the condition can also be caused by a number of other imbalances/conditions. For example, ama or toxicity in the GI tract, constipation, cystitis, vaginitis, congestive dysmenorrhea, disc herniation, spinal tumors, ankylosing spondylosis infection and cancer.
Ayurveda sees that back pain stems from a Vata imbalance, with the type of back pain experienced can be dependent on the doshic involvement:
Vata dominant back pain: Can be variable, migrating, cutting pain that is throbbing and/or intense. Aggravated by cold, wet, windy weather, which decreases as the muscles become warm or as the days warms up. It can stem from overuse of muscles, stress, travel, sedentary lifestyle/non-activity, etc.
Pitta back pain: Can be a steady burning sensation, an intense/lancing pain. Heat will generally aggravate the pain and it lessens when the body is cooled down or in the evening. It can stem from any form of inflammation, overuse that causes inflammation, shock, excessive anger, etc.
Kapha pack pain: Can be a steady, dull, and aching pain that is deep and diffused. Cold weather will tend to aggravate the pain and warmth will help to slowly relieve it. Pain can result from non-movement, lack of exercise, congestion, overweight conditions, constipation, amenorrhea, suppressed emotions, etc.
BENEFICIAL AYURVEDIC HERBS FOR LUMBAGO:
Vata Pitta Balancing: fresh ginger, shallaki, jatamansi, turmeric
Vata Kapha Balancing: guggulu, fresh ginger, shallaki, nirgundi, ashwaganda, jatamansi, rasna, turmeric
Pitta Vata Balancing: fresh ginger, shallaki, jatamansi, turmeric
Pitta Kapha Balancing: fresh ginger, shallaki, jatamansi, turmeric, camphor
Kapha Vata Balancing: guggulu, fresh ginger, shallaki, nirgundi, ashwaganda, jatamansi, rasna, turmeric
Kapha Pitta Balancing: fresh ginger, shallaki, jatamansi, turmeric, kamphor
Traditional Ayurvedic Treatment(s) for Lumbago:
Ayurvedic treatment approach(es) are individualised and are fully dependant on a full consultation with an individual, the current imbalances, their age, strength, severity of the condition, and if other conditions are also present. Treatment approaches can include:
- Panchakarma detox treatments (when deemed appropriate)
- Avoid causative factors
- Balance Jataragni (digestive fire) and digestion as needed
- Remove Ama (toxins within the digestive tract and body) if present
- Balance doshic imbalances through diet/lifestyle/herbs
- Intake of clean, wholefood, organic eating as much as possible
- Abhyanga massage, sweat therapies, pizichil, navara khizi bodywork treatments
- Oil bastis if required to balance Vata
- Reduce excess weight (if required)
General Ayurvedic Nutritional Guidelines for Lumbago:
Ayurvedic nutritional approach(es) are individualised and are fully dependant on a full consultation with an individual. One should eat compatible foods, and in accordance to one's imbalances. Some additional general guidelines include:
- One should eat the foods that one does not react to.
- One should eat according to the digestive capacity, keeping meals light, cooked, warm moist and easy to digest. As a guide, eat to fill the stomach 1/3 with solid food, 1/3 with liquid and leaving 1/3 empty to allow room for digestive secretions in the stomach.
- One should eat at regular times/intervals. Avoid skipping meals.
- One should eat wholegrains and non-processed foods.
- Foods to avoid: Cold foods, raw foods, leftover foods (24 hours), frozen foods, cold water, processed and packaged foods, soft drinks, high fat foods, greasy foods. Minimise the intake of sour and hot chilli type foods.
- One should avoid overeating. Allow 6 hours between meals and snack 3 hours after a meal and eat only if hungry. If digestion is poor, then 4 light meals per day is advisable in place of three regular meals.
- Breakfast should be easy to digest, lunch the main meal, and dinner should be lighter than lunch.
- A small amount of buttermilk consumed after meals is advisable.
- Eat home cooked meals, preferably made on the same day as being prepared.
- Water should be drunk warm in the cooler months and room temperature in the summer months. Avoid chilled water.
- Use all of the five senses at mealtimes. Savour the food that you are eating.
- Eat in a pleasant environment. Eat seated and try to avoid TV and electronic devices whilst eating.
- Eat slowly, eat with respect/reverence for what you are eating, chew thoroughly.
General Ayurvedic Lifestyle Guidelines for Lumbago:
Ayurvedic lifestyle approach(es) are individualised and are fully dependant on a full consultation with an individual. Some general guidelines include:
- Allow for sufficient rest and sleep. Go to bed at a regular time each day, and best before 10pm. Avoid also sleeping during the day.
- Keep to a routine as much as possible during the day.
- Get sufficient daily activity and exercise, without overdoing exercise. Balanced activity/exercise is healthy, but avoid over-exertion.
- Avoid stress, anxiety, fear and tension. Look at counselling for self-care and working through any stress, anxiety, anger or any other mental health and/or emotional issues.
- Deep breathing for 10 minutes a day is very beneficial. Meditation, yoga and pranayama can also be highly beneficial.
- Make sure to be well rugged up in winter, especially when going outside.
- Do not suppress bodily urges (burping, passing gas, bowel movements etc).
- Avoid smoking and minimise alcohol and caffeine intake.
- One should avoid constipation and supresing natural urges (passing stools, gas, burping etc).
- Look at ways of improving posture, lifting heavy objects, and improved sitting techniques.
- Firmer mattresses are better for back pain than soft mattresses.
- Get sufficient rest, especially when pain is aggravated.
- Avoid excess sexual activity.
If you have any concerns about your health please be sure to consult an Ayurvedic Practitioner or your local health physician. See our Ayurvedic Practitioner Services and Consultation Page for more information.