Pain is a common phenomenon affecting all age groups, irrespective of job, food habits, and race. According to Ayurveda, the ancient medical system, pain is related to aggravation of the functional element of the body, known as ‘vata dosha’, caused due to accumulation of toxins, leading to obstruction of circulation, and resulting in pain. Ayurveda recommends a holistic approach involving medicines and therapies for pain relief.
The common symptoms of pain include pain in particular muscle or group of muscles, usually radiating to nearby joints, sometimes accompanied by muscle stiffness, excruciating pain, and stiffness of joints.
Ayurveda pain management therapies
Ayurveda advocates prevention and management of pain through personalized therapies and daily routines.
This procedure involves complete body massage with ayurvedic oil for 45 minutes, followed by warm water bath. The oil is chosen based on the body nature, season and disease condition of the patient. The rhythmic motion of massage helps to relive joint and muscle stiffness, easing the movements, and improving blood circulation, thereby helping in quick removal of metabolic toxins. This procedure needs to be done on daily basis for better results and nourishment to the body.
The Abhyanga therapy is good in cases of fatigue, anxiety, rheumatism, circulatory disorders, backache, arthritis and injuries. It also helps in treatment of spondylosis, paralysis, sleep disorders, obesity, diabetic gangrene, preventing wrinkles and scales, and improves overall well-being and life span.
Ayurveda believes that accumulation of toxins is the root cause of muscular pain, and hence advises various purification therapies depending on the body type of the individual and weather conditions. For instance, the Purgation type of purification therapy is done only during winter or towards end of winter.
Pizhichil, which means squeezing, involves dipping a cloth in warm medicated oil and squeezing it over the patient’s body. The patient is made to adopt seven standard positions so that no area of the body is left uncovered. This method helps relieve body pain and muscle spasm, heals fractured bones, increases immunity, promotes muscle development, improves complexion, rejuvenation, blood circulation, alleviates burning sensation, and prolongs life span. This procedure is also recommended to treat conditions like rheumatic disorders, neurological disorders, sexual weakness, blood pressure and diabetes, convulsions, paraplegia, hemiplegia and other degenerative conditions.
It involves fomentation of the body with a bolus of cooked rice. The rice is cooked with milk and herbal decoction. Four boluses are made of cooked rice and are tied up in linen bags. The therapy is done in seven standard positions. This procedure of strengthening fomentation is advised in all types of neurological disorders, rheumatism, arthritis, congenital deformity of limbs, dislocation of joints and bones, improves muscle tone, rejuvenates tissues, gout, osteoarthritis, emaciation of muscles, numbness and diseases caused by vitiation of blood.
Ela Kizhi/Podi kizhi
In this procedure, medicinal herbs (leaves and powdered forms) are fried in medicated oil, and applied over the body in a rhythmic massage. It is advised for several arthritic conditions, lumbago, spondylosis, sciatica, frozen shoulder, paralytic spasm, joint pain and stiffness, and other spastic and inflammatory conditions. It relieves pain and numbness, controls aggravated vata, improves peripheral blood supply, treats spondylitis, and sports injuries and improves blood supply.
In this procedure, lukewarm herbal or ayurvedic oils are poured into an artificial bridge, created around the affected area. The herbal oils help enrich blood and builds and maintains powerful muscle and connective tissues. This procedure is advised for stiff joints, cervical spondylitis, neck pain, numbness of hands, paralysis, stimulates and nourishes nerves relieving pain and numbness. This procedure is particularly helpful in degenerative conditions.
A thick layer of cotton soaked with warm medicated oil is applied over the affected area, and is recycled periodically to make it warm. This procedure is beneficial for degenerative conditions and associated pain such as osteoarthritis, back pain, injuries, spondylitis, facial palsy and paralysis.
It is a fomentation procedure wherein medicated milk is heated and steam is passed over the entire body. It is effective in treating headache, numbness, nervous disorders and paralysis, particularly facial paralysis disorders and other nervous, speech and spastic disorders.
In this procedure, prescribed medications, such as medicated oils, herbal preparations, extracts or decoction are applied through the rectum. This treatment method is advised for paralysis, numbness, degenerative and neurological disorders, chronic back pain, and sciatica.
Herbs advised for pain management
Some effective herbs for pain management recommended by Ayurvedic experts are Guggulu, Rasna, Garlic, Indian gooseberry, and Indian aloe.
Ayurveda suggest avoiding sour items such as curd, pluses (except moong dal), fish, meat, white bread, refined cereals, sugar, fried food, tea and coffee, lime juice, potato, celery seeds and bitter gourd.
Padmasana, Bhujangasana, Naukasana, Chalapasana, Naukasana, Parvatasana, Dhanurasana and Koormasana are considered good for prevention and management of pain.
Restricted regular exercise, avoiding day-time napping, avoiding excess exposure to cold weather and regular toxin elimination is required for pain management.
On the whole, Ayurveda adopts a holistic approach with herbal medications, therapies, lifestyle modification, diet and yoga, all of which when incorporated into daily life, can help prevent and manage muscular pain in better manner.