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Sciatica / Lumbar Spondylosis

Bhagwati Ayurveda & Panchkarma / Sciatica / Lumbar Spondylosis

Ayurveda for Sciatica/Lumbar Spondylosis & Back Pain

Sciatica is a medical condition characterized by pain going down the leg from the lower back. This pain may go down the back, outside, or front of the leg. Onset is often sudden following activities like heavy lifting, though gradual onset may also occur. Typically, symptoms are only on one side of the body. Certain causes, however, may result in pain on both sides. Lower back pain is sometimes but not always present. Weakness or numbness may occur in various parts of the affected leg and foot.

About 90% of the time sciatica is due to a spinal disc herniation pressing on one of the lumbar or sacral nerve roots. Other problems that may result in sciatica include spondylolisthesis, spinal stenosis, piriformis syndrome, pelvic tumors, and compression by a baby’s head during pregnancy. The straight-leg-raising test is often helpful in diagnosis. The test is positive if, when the leg is raised while a person is lying on their back, pain shoots below the knee. In most cases medical imaging is not needed. Exceptions to this are when bowel or bladder function is affected, there is significant loss of feeling or weakness, symptoms are long standing, or there is a concern of a tumor or infection. Conditions that may present similarly are diseases of the hip and early herpes zoster before the rash appears.

Symptoms

Symptoms of spondylitis vary depending on the individual and the location and severity of the condition. The common symptoms of spondylitis include:

  • Stiffness and pain in the neck or back
  • Loss of mobility in the spine
  • Inability to twist and turn or to do so without pain
  • Chronic pain and discomfort when standing, sitting or walking
  • Deformity or an abnormal spine curvature

If you are experiencing these symptoms, you should consult your doctor to seek treatment options available to you. Currently, spondylitis is not considered a curable condition. All treatments aim to relieve the symptoms of pain and discomfort associated with spondylitis.

Causes

Spinal disc herniation

Spinal disc herniation pressing on one of the lumbar or sacral nerve roots is the most frequent cause of sciatica, being present in about 90% of cases. Sciatica caused by pressure from a disc herniation and swelling of surrounding tissue can spontaneously subside if the tear in the disc heals and the pulposus extrusion and inflammation cease.

Spinal stenosis

Other compressive spinal causes include lumbar spinal stenosis, a condition in which the spinal canal (the spaces the spinal cord runs through) narrows and compresses the spinal cord, cauda equina, or sciatic nerve roots. This narrowing can be caused by bone spurs, spondylolisthesis, inflammation, or a herniated disc, which decreases available space for the spinal cord, thus pinching and irritating nerves from the spinal cord that travel to the sciatic nerves.

Piriformis syndrome

Piriformis syndrome is a controversial condition that, depending on the analysis, varies from a “very rare” cause to contributing to up to 8% of low back or buttock pain. In 17% of the population, the sciatic nerve runs through the piriformis muscle rather than beneath it. When the muscle shortens or spasms due to trauma or overuse, it is posited that this causes compression of the sciatic nerve. It has colloquially been referred to as “wallet sciatica” since a wallet carried in a rear hip pocket compresses the buttock muscles and sciatic nerve when the bearer sits down. Piriformis syndrome causes sciatica when the nerve root itself remains normal and no herniation of a spinal disc is apparent.

Pregnancy

Sciatica may also occur during pregnancy as a result of the weight of the fetus pressing on the sciatic nerve during sitting or during leg spasms. While most cases do not directly harm the fetus or the mother, indirect harm may come from the numbing effect on the legs, which can cause loss of balance and falls. There is no standard treatment for pregnancy-induced sciatica.

Other

Sciatica can also be caused by tumors impinging on the spinal cord or the nerve roots. Severe back pain extending to the hips and feet, loss of bladder or bowel control, or muscle weakness may result from spinal tumors or cauda equina syndrome. Trauma to the spine, such as from a car accident, may also lead to sciatica. A relationship has been proposed with a latent Propionibacterium acnes infection in the intervertebral discs, but the role it plays is not yet clear.

Treatment

Pain, tingling sensation, numbness, the stiffness of the spine are major symptoms of Lumbar spondylosis which is predominantly due to vitiated Vatha dosha. According to Ayurveda, Lumbar Spondylosis can be correlated to Kati Vata (one of the Sandhigata Vata) and back pain to Kati Shula or Prishta Shula or Kati graha or Trika Shula or Trika graha.

Treatment in Ayurveda for Lumbar spondylosis is to bring the vitiated ‘Vata dosha‘ back to the state of equilibrium and thereby to the state of health.

The treatment modalities for treating this condition include Panchakarma & Rejuvenation therapies, internal medications, diet and lifestyle changes.

Therapies like Dhanyamladhara, Abhyanga swedam, Elakizhi, Sarvangadhara, Vasti, Kati Basti, Navarakizhi are commonly done according to the severity of illness.

At Bhagwati Ayurveda, therapies are customized and are done dedicatedly to achieve the maximum success rate. Duration of the treatment may range from 4 – 6 weeks.

Prevention

Known as Gridhrasi in Ayurveda, sciatica is considered to be caused due to impaired digestion. A faulty digestive system causes the buildup of toxins (ama) that accumulate in the minute channels of the body. The Ayurvedic treatment of Sciatica consists of cleansing herbs that eliminate the toxic build up, followed by digestive herbs that restore proper digestion. Toning and demulcent herbs are also prescribed to nourish the nervous system and alleviate imbalanced body energies. Medicated oils may also be applied to soothe the sciatic nerve. Panchakarma, massage therapies can be effective in subsiding the pains of sciatica.