What is Backache?
Backache is also known as back pain (common English), Pith Me Dard / Kamar Ka Dard (Hindi/Urdu), Path Dukhi / Kambar Dukhi (Marathi), Muthuku Vali (Tamil), Bei tong (Chinese), Dolor de espalda (Spanish), dor nas costas (Portuguese), Prustha shula (Bengali), bol’ v spine (Russian). Picked up more than you can carry? Slept on the wrong side of the bed? Not standing up straight? Overdid that workout? For all these reasons and more, when you strain the muscles around the spine, you could end up with a backache. Backache during pregnancy is uncommonly common these days. It has become an occupational hazard in many different kinds of work. Sedentary living habits and hazardous work patterns has made backache, one of the most common ailments. The main causes of backache and spondylitis are muscular tension, joint strain, poor posture and incorrect nutrition resulting from dietetic errors and lack of exercise. Acute or chronic illnesses like kidney or prostate problems, female disorders, pregnancy, influenza and arthritis, sciatica may also lead to backache. Other causes include stress and strain resulting from sitting for a long time, improper lifting of weight, high heels and emotional problems which may cause painful muscle cramping. Poor posture results from soft chairs and coaches, which facilitates slouching and sitting incorrectly. Shoes with high heels place a tremendous strain on the back and other muscles of the body. Sleeping on too soft a mattress which results in an improper back and neck posture, can cause tension, headaches and pain in the upper and lower back. Another major cause of back problems and tense muscles is lack of exercise. Modern conveniences have made office work easier. The easy life can lead to obesity which puts a great strain on the back. When muscles are not exercised and remain weak, the chances of injury to them is increased manifold. Some people may even have a slipped disk, sciatica, pregnancy which can lead to severe back pain.
Lower Back Pain Causes and Symptoms
The back, a complex structure of muscles, bone and elastic tissue, is known as the life bone of the body. The spine is made of 24 blocks of bone piled one on top of the other. Sandwiched between these bony blocks are cushions of cartilage and elastic tissues called inter-vertebral discs. The vertebral discs act as shock absorbers for the back. Mobility would be impossible without discs. Sometimes these cushions rupture and the pulp protrudes a little. The process is erroneously called a ‘slipped’ disc. If the cushion disappears entirely, the result is known as a degenerated disc. In slipped-disc trouble, the nerve is affected in such a way that the pain radiates down the thigh and leg. If the disc ‘slips’ in the neck area, it causes numbness and pain radiates to the arms. Disc trouble does not occur suddenly but builds up over a long time. The backbone forms a protective arch over the vertebrae and spinal cord and protects the spinal nerves that are interwoven through the spinal column. There is a close relationship between the bones, discs, joint muscles and nerves in the back and the slightest problem or injury to the back or neck area can have disastrous effects. Whatever the cause of your backache, the following natural Ayurvedic home remedies will be helpful.
Backache Home Remedies to Get Fast Back Pain Relief
- Ginger Powder: Try ginger paste and then eucalyptus oil to the affected area. Apply a paste made of ginger powder mixed with sufficient water to the affected area. Leave it on for 10 to 15 minutes, wash it off, and then rub the back with some eucalyptus oil.
- Mahanarayan Oil: Apply the mahanarayan oil on your back and then follow with a hot bath in which you put some ginger powder and baking soda (1/3 cup of each). Soak in the tub for 10 to 15 minutes. You may repeat this bath 2 or 3 times a week.
- Turmeric: If you like Indian food like curry, you’ve got a head start on the pain relieving benefits of turmeric. The active ingredient in turmeric is the yellow pigment known as curcumin, which gives curry its distinctive look. Turmeric has both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits, which help it relieve your back pain. This may be due to its ability to block what is known as “substance P”, a pain neurotransmitter in the body. Tablet or capsule containing curcumin can be taken as per requirement after consulting your doctor.
- Mustard Plaster: A mustard plaster eases a number of back issues such as sciatica, neuralgia, joint inflammation and rheumatic pain. Quantities for the mustard paste will depend on the size of plaster required. Use a piece of cotton or linen cloth at least twice the size required. Grind mustard seeds (be aware that black are the hottest), then add 4 times as much all purpose flour and enough cool water to make a paste. Spread paste onto half the fabric, fold over, if too wet add another layer of cloth, once placed on the affected area this will increase blood circulation, perspiration and heat. Do not let the paste touch bare skin, and do not use for longer than 30 minutes. Remove and wash well with warm water.
- Ice Pack: Ice reduces swellings and is particularly beneficial for sprains. Ice packs help to relieve backache.
- Ayurveda Herbal Formula: Take yogaraj guggulu, 1 tablet 3 times a day, or 1 tablet of kaishore guggulu 2 or 3 times a day. Both of these special Ayurvedic formulas are available from most sources of Ayurvedic herbs.
- Willow For Lower Back Pain: Since the early 1800s, willow bark has been used as a kind of “natural aspirin.” The active ingredient in willow bark is salicin, a compound similar to salicylic acid, which is found in aspirin and has anti-inflammatory effects. Since it’s a natural form, it’s safer and much more gentle on the stomach. Don’t use willow bark if you are allergic to aspirin. Willow bark is effective in relieving lower back pain. Willow is available in several dosage forms, including tablets, capsules, powder, and liquid. Please consult your physician for appropriate dose.
- Musta / Nagamotha Powder: Backache can also be relieved by the use of the herb musta, which is a muscle painkiller. Take 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon 2 or 3 times a day with warm water.
- Sage: Wash the affected area with sage tea, as hot as you can handle. One teaspoon dried sage per cup of boiling water. Cover and leave for 10 minutes. Strain before use.
- Mild Exercises: Certain safety measures, especially, for people in sedentary occupation, are necessary to relieve and prevent backache. The most important of these is exercise which improves the supply of nutrients to spinal discs, thereby delaying the process of deterioration that comes with age and eventually affects everybody. Safe exercises include walking, swimming and bicycling.
- Yoga Poses: Some gentle yoga exercises such as Camel pose, Lotus pose, Cow pose, Forward Bend, Spinal Twist, Palm Tree pose, Locust pose can help with back pain.
- Induce Restful Sleep: The herbs tagara and valerian are muscle relaxants. Taking 1/2 teaspoon of either with some warm water will relax the muscles that may be causing back pain. It will also help induce restful sleep.
- Backache Relief Oil: Create your own massage oil to reduce back pain. Mix together in a 1 ounce glass bottle 1/2 oz. sunflower or apricot kernel vegetable oil, 1/2 oz. St. John’s wort herbal oil (Hypericum perforatum), 7 drops peppermint oil (Mentha x piperita), 2 drops rosemary oil (Rosmarinus officinalis) and 4 drops lavender oil (Lavandula angustifolia). Shake for a few minutes and then apply to the back.
- Joint Inflammation and Tissue Repair: Bromelain ( an enzyme that comes from the center of pineapples) and Boswellia, an ayurvedic herb that comes from India, both possess anti-inflammatory properties that ease back pain. Research shows that Boswellia extract produced a significant reduction in joint pain, swelling, and morning stiffness, while improving general health and well-being. Boswellic acid also improves blood supply to joint tissues.
- Neck Exercises to Relieve Tension: Tension arising from long hours at the desk or behind the wheel of the car can be relieved by certain neck exercises. These include rotating the head clockwise and anticlockwise, allowing the head to drop forward and backward as far as possible and turning the head to the right and left as far as possible several times. These exercises help to loosen up contracted neck muscles which may restrict the blood supply to the head.
- Hot Herbalized Bath: For extra healing and muscle relaxation, apply the mahanarayan oil on your back and then follow with a hot bath in which you put some ginger powder and baking soda (1/3 cup of each). Soak in the tub for 10 to 15 minutes. You may repeat this bath 2 or 3 times a week.
Tips to Avoid Back Pain in Future
- Avoid exposure to cold weather or cold winds.
- Don’t walk in high-heeled shoes.
- Don’t try to do jogging, jumping, or other strenuous exercise, rather, do some gentle yoga stretching as mentioned above.