Friday - - Beauty -

Q I have pain in my lower back and leg. An MRI scan re­vealed that I could have a slipped disc and re­lated is­sues. Can Ayurveda help?

AOne of the main rea­sons we suf­fer from back prob­lems is that we are in­creas­ingly be­com­ing seden­tary crea­tures. In sim­ple terms, our spinal disc is like a jelly dough­nut with a soft cen­tre en­cased in a hard coat­ing. A slipped, rup­tured or her­ni­ated disc oc­curs when the softer jelly pushes out through a crack in the tough case. It can ir­ri­tate nearby nerves and re­sult in pain, numb­ness or weak­ness in arms or legs.

As we age, our spinal discs lose some of their mois­ture con­tent, mak­ing them less flex­i­ble and more prone to rup­tur­ing with even a mi­nor twist. Some­times, a trau­matic event or lift­ing heavy ob­jects can lead to a her­ni­ated disc. The con­di­tion is most com­mon in mid­dle age. Ex­cess body weight too causes ex­tra stress on the discs in your lower back. Repet­i­tive lift­ing, pulling, push­ing, bend­ing side­ways and twist­ing may also in­crease your risk of end­ing up with this con­di­tion. But even so, many peo­ple who have this prob­lem ex­pe­ri­ence no pain.

If a bulging or her­ni­ated disc presses on the sci­atic nerve that trav­els down your leg, it can cause sci­at­ica – sharp, shoot­ing pain in the bot­tom, thighs, knees and calves to the an­kles and toes.

Ayurveda of­fers an ex­ten­sive list of ther­a­pies for the con­di­tion, in­clud­ing lep­anam – ap­pli­ca­tion of her­bal pastes over the af­fected area to re­lieve pain and swelling; ban­dages with her­bal oils; and elakkizhi and podikkizhi – warm her­bal bags to re­lieve pain and strengthen spinal mus­cles. Sev­eral ther­a­pies may be pre­scribed for se­vere or chronic cases. Self-care mea­sures can help a lot in the pre­ven­tion and treat­ment of lower back pain. Once the acute pain sub­sides, mus­cle strength­en­ing will help to pre­vent re­cur­rences.

Avoid bend­ing, twist­ing or lift­ing heavy ob­jects. When sit­ting, rest your knees a lit­tle higher than your hips and keep your feet flat on the floor. Do not sit in the same po­si­tion for long pe­ri­ods of time. If you are a nurs­ing mother, don’t strain your back by bend­ing over your in­fant. Yoga pos­tures such as bhu­jan­gasana, sal­ab­hasana and pa­vana muk­tasana are help­ful.

DR VL SHYAM is a Dubai-based Ayurveda prac­ti­tioner

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