Backache is one of the most common affliction, to which hardly any lady is an exception. But of course with the amount of stress these days, anyone can suffer from this condition including children. This is the most agonizing and incapacitating physical disorders which owes its origin to multiple physical factors. It is merely a symptom and not a disease whose cause lies elsewhere in the body.
Pain in the lower back may be linked to the bony lumbar spine, discs between the vertebrae, ligaments around the spine and discs, spinal cord and nerves, lower back muscles, abdomen and pelvic internal organs, and the skin around the lumbar area. Pain in the upper back may be due to disorders of the aorta, tumors in the chest, and spine inflammation.
Symptoms of Backache
Usually back pain should go away in two weeks. At other times, it could be the indicator or precursor to a more serious health issue. If you have persistent backache and one or more of the following symptoms manifest themselves, it’s time to get a more thorough health checkup to identify the root cause.
Constant pain, at times unbearable and severe
Difficulty in bending forward and/or sideways
Aggravation of pain by least movement, jerk
Feeling as if the entire area is sore and sensitive to even slight touch
Relief is felt by gentle massage
Feeling as if the back muscles were bound and tightened by a binder
Unexplained weight loss
Numbness or a tingling feeling in one or both legs
Loss of bladder or bowel control
Origin following trauma, such as a fall or direct blow or impact to the back
Constant pain that grows in intensity at night
Root Causes of Backache
Spinal arthritis, rheumatoid or ankylosing spondylitis
Curvature of spine
Presence of tumors in the spine
Some chronic infection
Injury to spine or abnormal stress caused by lifting any heavy object
Poor circulation of blood
Sitting in a particular position at a stretch, but more so when one is obliged to perform some job where bending of the back becomes a necessity
Loss of bone density and thinning of the bone (osteoporosis)
Narrowing of the spinal canal (spinal stenosis)
Displacement of one vertebral body onto another (degenerative spondylolisthesis)
Loss of nerve function at the lower spinal cord (cauda equine syndrome)
Risk Factors for Backache
You are at a greater risk of suffering from back pain if you:
Work in a sedentary space
Are aged 35+ years
Are overweight or obese
Are a smoker
Participate in high-impact activity without prior warm-up
According to studies, your emotional health could also be a contributor to increased risk of back pain. If you work at a stressful job or have depression or anxiety you could start to feel the weight pressing down on your back.
Ayurveda and Backache
Known as Nitambha shoola or Kati shoola, this type of pain causes both bone and muscle weakness (asthi dhatu kshaya or mamsa dhatu kshaya). Other names that backache is known by are Kati vata, Prishta shoola, Kati graha, Trika shoola and Trika graha.
The airy biohumor of Vata dosha is associated with back pain but it can easily be caused by tge other doshas as shown below. Vata dosha – Variable, migrating pain that is throbbing and intense. Cold aggravates the pain and it lessens as the muscles become warm or as day dawns. Can result from overuse of muscles, stress, travel, non-movement, etc. Pitta dosha – Steady burning, lancing pain that is intense. Heat aggravates the pain and it lessens when the body is cooled down or in the evening when the day ends. Can result from any form of inflammation, overuse that causes inflammation, shock, excessive anger, etc. Kapha dosha – Steady dull, aching pain that is deep and diffused. Cold will tend to aggravate the pain and warmth will help relieve it slowly. Can result from non-movement, lack of exercise, congestion, overweight conditions, constipation, amenorrhea, suppressed emotions, etc.
Balancing vitiated Vata is the best way to treat chronic backache. One of the best Ayurvedic treatments for back pain is Kati Basti (Back oil dough therapy). It is a form of external oleation (Snehana) therapy in Ayurveda. For this ayurveda spine treatment, the patient is made to lie face down. A “dam” made with gram flour dough of four to five inches in diameter is created on the patient’s back (lumbar-sacral area). Medicated oil is poured into this dough ring. When cool, the oil is soaked up using cotton gauze and the process is repeated several times. Usually Vata-pacifying oils such as castor oil, bala oil or dashamoola oil work wonderfully well for Kati basti. Brahmi oil is used in case of nerve damage.
Ayurvedic Treatment for Backache
Garlic (Allium Sativum): Lahsun or garlic is one of the best natural remedies for back pain because of its pain-relieving properties. Fry a couple of cloves of garlic in castor or sesame oil. Cool and use this oil to massage on the affected area. One can also add garlic while cooking to beat chronic inflammation. Drinking garlic milk on a daily basis can be an effective remedy for relieving back pain.
Ginger (Zingiber Officinale): The anti-inflammatory properties of ginger make it a great herb for natural back pain relief. An Ayurvedic recipe for backache calls for equal parts of long pepper (pippali) and dry ginger (saunth). This can be mixed with rock candy and a teaspoon taken daily with warm water. Ginger is also an herb used in Indian kitchen; it tastes delicious in soups, juices and stews. Drinking herbal tea with ginger and honey can be very calming for the nerves and warms the joints.
Turmeric (Curcuma Longa): Crush 1-2 cardamom pods and mix in warm milk. Add a pinch or two of turmeric to the milk. Drink this every night at bedtime if you’d like to know how to cure back pain naturally. Turmeric is a wonderful addition to curries and soups as a flavorful spice.
Camphor (Cinnamomum Camphora): Camphor or karpoor is also one of the potent herbal remedies for back pain. Make a pain-soothing herbal oil for backache by boiling a few pieces of camphor in coconut oil for 3-5 minutes. Cool and store in a bottle. Use this for massage before bedtime.
Ashwagandha (Withania Somnifera): Ashwagandha or Indian ginseng boosts circulation and relaxes the blood vessels. It is very beneficial in cases of autoimmune issues such as rheumatoid arthritis. Being an adaptogen, it can reverse the ill effects of chronic stress – a likely cause of back pain. Take a teaspoon of ashwagandha in warm milk and consume at bedtime daily.
Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus Globulus): Nilgiri or eucalyptus is very warming and can be used for massage. A few drops added to bathwater can also be extremely comforting in case of aches and pains.
Fenugreek (Trigonella Foenum-Graecum): Roast about 100 grams of fenugreek seeds. Grind well and mix a third of rock salt. Place two teaspoonfuls of the mixture in hot water and let the fumes wash over the affected area.
Ayurvedic Supplements (to be taken under physician’s guidance – Consult Now)
The diet of those suffering from backache should consist of raw salad made of vegetables such as tomato, carrot, cabbage, cucumber, radish, lettuce, and at least two steamed or lightly cooked vegetables such as cauliflower, cabbage, spinach, carrot and plenty of fruits except bananas.
The patients should avoid fatty, spicy and fried foods, curd, sweetmeats and sugar, condiments, tea and coffee. Foods that have been processed for preservation have few nutrients and should also be eliminated from the diet.
Consuming a Vata-pacifying diet in general can have positive effects on back pain. This is because Vata is a cold humor and eating warming foods can help balance the coldness which creates congestion in the body’s channels. These channels are also responsible for healthy elimination. An internally cleansed body is pain-free.
Consume foods that are rich in fiber to avoid constipation. This will reduce strain on the abdomen and back.
Intake a lot of dairy (except curd) to ensure that you get your daily dose of calcium and Vitamin D to keep your spinal bones strong.
Your diet also needs to include omega-3 fatty acids that have an anti-inflammatory effect. Fish oil is the easiest way to get omega-3s.
Smoking or taking tobacco in any from should be given up completely.
Hot fomentation (with rock salt bundle), alternate sponging or application of heat to the back will give immediate relief.
Avoid sleeping on a soft mattress as it will not provide adequate support to the spine. If possible, sleep with your back aligned straight against the floor, with the spine touching the ground.
Use ergonomic chairs at home and in your workplace. Your spine should make full contact with the chair while sitting. If not, use a pillow to support your back.
Shuffle your position from time to time. Do not sit in a cramped position.
Massage your back regularly with sesame oil or the medicated oils indicated below to stimulate circulation and boost flexibility. Oiling is also Vata-calming in nature so ensure that you oil your body with warm sesame or mustard oil an hour before taking a bath.
Stay warm to counteract the cold qualities of Vata.
An Epsom salt bath can be relaxing and relieving for backache.
Posture is essential for maintaining spinal health. Poor posture like slouching or slumping can cause back pain as can wearing high heels or ill-fitting shoes which strain your back.