Lumbar Spondylosis is yet another age-related degenerative condition that affects the lumbar vertebrae or the lower spine. In case of lumbar spondylosis, the space between the discs in the lumbar spine becomes narrowed, resulting in a variety of health issues ranging from low back pain to neurological conditions. This usually occurs after the age of 40, as the spine undergoes changes with progression of age, and many of these changes contribute to degeneration of the vertebrae. Lumbar spondylosis usually occurs at the last two vertebrae of lumbar spine (L4 and L5) and first vertebra of sacral spine (S1).
Aging, genetic abnormality such as weak bones, previous injury to spine, accident, heavy weight lifting, physical exertion, over exercise, excessive forward bending, prolonged sitting especially in front of computer, too much two wheeler driving, abnormal sleep posture and inappropriate bed usage for sleeping are some of the causes of lumbar spondylosis.
Associated conditions that are included in lumbosacral spondylosis are disc herniation, bulging discs, osteoarthritis and bone spur. All these are spinal abnormalities that are a risk factor that extend into the spinal canal exerting pressure on the spinal nerves. Sciatic nerve is most often compressed at the meeting of the L5 and S1 vertebrae leading to Sciatica.
Common symptoms of Lumbar spondylosis include:
- Pain and numbness at the lower back which may radiate till the legs.
- Increased pain on prolonged standing or travelling.
- Worsening of pain with movement of spine such as lifting weight and bending.
- Difficulty or restricted movement.
- Weakness in the muscles of the legs.
- Sometimes may be associated with psychological symptoms like sleeplessness, fatigue and anxiousness.
Lumbar spondylosis is diagnosed by a doctor by physical examination, X-ray, CT scan or MRI. Bed rest, Belts/ braces, NSAIDs, Spinal injections, Physiotherapy, narcotics, surgical intervention are the treatment provided by the modern medical system. Though the modern treatment has its own advantages there are many limitations that follow. Prolonged usage of NSAIDs causes gastric irritations, kidney and liver toxins; usage of belts for a longer duration weakens the spinal muscles and worsens the pain. Spinal injections have steroidal side effects and they just reduce the pain and don’t provide a permanent solution and coming to surgical intervention it’s not only expensive but there are many risk involved and in a few cases pain gets even worse.
Ayurveda and Lumbar Spondylosis
According to Ayurveda, Lumbar Spondylosis can be correlated to Kati Vata which is a type Sandhigata Vata and back pain can be related to Kati Shula or Prishta Shula or Kati Graha. Ayurveda considers aggravation of Vata dosha to be responsible for pain and degeneration of the lumbar spine. Excessive exposure to cold atmosphere, intake of cold, dry, stale food, late night sleeping, intake of too much grams, potatoes, peas are some of the factors that aggravate vata dosha and intern worsen the lumbar pain.
Treatment in Ayurveda is given to balance the Vata Dosha. Herbal medicines and Panchakarma and Upakarmas (External therapies) adopted help to relax the muscles, relieve inflammation to the nerves and its surrounding tissues. The damage to the nerves is healed and muscles and nerves are strengthened. Ayurveda treatment basically provides nourishment to the muscles and nerves and thus rejuvenates the degenerated vertebral disc. Apart from internal and external treatments diet and lifestyle modifications are also advised and some yoga postures are also taught for a better relief.
Ayurvedic Therapies for Lumbar Spondylosis
- Kati Vasti – Retention of medicated oil on the lower back to provide the lubrication for the degenerated disc. A well is constructed around the low back from black gram dough. Into this well warm medicated oil is poured and retained for duration of 30 – 45 minutes. The warmth of the oil is maintained by reheating whenever required.
- Abhyangam – Full body and localised massage tones up the muscles and improves blood circulation. The stretching method followed during abhyanga acts as traction which reduces disc narrowing by increasing intervertebral space.
- Swedanam – Fomentation by patra pinda sveda (Fresh herbal bundle massage), Bashpa sweda (Steaming), nadi sweda (Steaming using a pipe) or churna pinda sweda (Powder bundle massage). Swedana reduces pain and stiffness in ligaments, relieves muscle spasm and improves blood circulation. It is specially advised in musculo-skeletal disorders.
- Vasti – Enemas with medicated oil and herbal decoction. According to Ayurveda large intestine is considered as vata stana (place where vata resides), hence basti plays a major role in controlling of the vitiated vata of lumbar spondylosis. Also basti provides nourishment to the bones and muscles and helps in faster recovery from severe pain.
- Taila or Dhanyamla Dhara – Medicated oil or fermented gruel is poured on the localized area in a slow and rhythmic way. This activates the nerves, rejuvenates the muscles and improves circulation and thus reduces stiffness, pain and numbness.
- Upanaha and Lepanam: Application of medicated paste or poultice on the affected area, to relieve pain, stiffness and numbness. The warmth of the lepa and upanaha provides good blood circulation.
- Avoid cold, stale, junk food and avoid potatoes, grams, peas and all that food that increase vata dosha.
- Avoid late night sleeping and don’t use too soft bed. Sleep in comfortable position without straining your back.
- Maintain proper sitting posture while working on computer and laptops.
- Avoid too much and long distance travelling in two wheeler.
- Practice exercises to strengthen the back muscles.
- Practice yoga and do complimentary asanas so that the back is strengthened.
- Avoid heavy weight lifting.
- Regularly massage your body and avoid pressure massage on your back. Use the oil that is provided by Ayurveda physician.
Advised Yogasanas for Lumbar Spondylosis
- Ardhakati Chakrasana – Half Waist Wheel Pose
- Ardha Chakrasana – Half Wheel pose
- Pada Hastasana – Foot hand pose (Can use a block too for support)
- Wall Plank pose
- Adho Mukha Svanasana – Downward Facing Dog Pose
- Cobra Pose – Bhujang Asana
- Vakrasana – Half spinal twist pose
- Ushtrasana – Camel Pose
- Vipareetakarni – Legs-Up-The-Wall Pose
- Shavasana – Deep Relaxation
Always remember not to neglect any kind of pain during Yoga. Always consult before starting a procedure.