CAN AYURVEDA HELP DISC CON­DI­TIONS?

Friday - - Beauty -

Q I have pain in my lower back and leg. Af­ter ex­am­in­ing an MRI re­port, the doc­tor said that I am hav­ing disc is­sues. Does Ayurveda have a treat­ment for this con­di­tion?

AThe main rea­son we suf­fer from back prob­lems is that we are in­creas­ingly becoming seden­tary crea­tures. Our spinal disc is like a jam dough­nut, with a softer cen­tre en­cased within a tough coat­ing. A slipped, rup­tured or her­ni­ated disc oc­curs when the softer fill­ing 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 wa­ter con­tent. That makes 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. Her­ni­ated discs are most com­mon in mid­dle age. Ex­cess body weight causes ex­tra stress on the discs in your lower back. Repet­i­tive lift­ing, pulling, push­ing, bend­ing side­ways and twist­ing may also in­crease your risk of a her­ni­ated disc.

But even so, many peo­ple who have bulging or her­ni­ated discs 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 through the but­tocks, thighs, knees, and calves and to the an­kles and toes.

Many peo­ple get bet­ter in a month or two with con­ser­va­tive treat­ment. Imag­ing stud­ies show that the pro­trud­ing por­tion of the disc shrinks over time, cor­re­spond­ing to the im­prove­ment in symp­toms.

Mus­cle strength­en­ing through ex­er­cise helps sta­bilise and sup­port the spine. Ayurveda con­sid­ers this as a vata dis­ease and treat­ment ob­jec­tives are to balance vata and thereby al­le­vi­ate pain symp­toms and pre­vent fur­ther de­gen­er­a­tive changes of discs and ver­te­brae.

The right ther­apy and oil cou­pled with med­i­ca­tions shall be cho­sen by the doc­tor af­ter a de­tailed con­sul­ta­tion and ex­am­i­na­tion of the pa­tient. Ayurveda of­fers an ex­ten­sive list of ther­a­pies:

Lepanam: Ap­pli­ca­tion of herbal pastes over the af­fected area re­lieves pain and swelling.

Ban­dages: Ban­dages with herbal oils like Murivenna, Kar­pooradi thailam.

Kadi­vasthy: Re­ten­tion of warm oil in the low back with a dam made with dough.

Elakkizhi and Podikkizhi: Warm herbal bags re­lieve pain and strengthen spinal mus­cles.

In se­vere and chronic cases pan­chakarma ther­a­pies – Vasthy (en­ema with med­i­cated liq­uids), Virechanam (pur­ga­tion ther­apy) and Nasyam (med­i­cated oils as nasal drops) are also sug­gested.

Self-care mea­sures can help. Once the acute pain sub­sides, mus­cle strength­en­ing will help to pre­vent re­cur­rences. Don’t bend, twist or lift. Keep your knees a lit­tle higher than your hips and keep your feet flat on the floor while sit­ting in a chair. Do not sit in the same po­si­tion for long pe­ri­ods of time.

Prac­tise yoga postures like Bhu­jan­gasana, Sal­ab­hasana and Pa­vana muk­tasana, sub­ject to your health con­di­tion.

DR VL SHYAM is a Dubai-based Ayurveda prac­ti­tioner

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