Thursday, September 25, 2014

Sciatica: An Ayurveda view

Sciatica: An Ayurveda view

Sciatica is similar to the condition called Gridhrasi in Ayurveda, which is primarily a Vata disease, where there is an aggravation of Vata (one among the three bioregulating principles of the body) Vata gets aggravated due to intake of very dry, spicy, cold foods, exposure to cold wind, constipation, injury, fall, over exertion, bending or stretching at undue angle etc. The aggravated Vata affects the low back and causes this disease.

Gridhra basically means eagle, and this disease is named so, because of the gait typically seen in persons affected by this condition. The person walks like an eagle lifting the feet up with jerking movement everytime it is pressed down on the ground, due to the pulling type of pain radiating through the back of the thighs and feet.

Sciatica occurs when there is pressure or damage to the sciatic nerve. Sciatic nerve is the largest nerve of the body which originates from the spinal cord at the level of the 4th lumbar spine to the 3rd sacral spine. It come out through the opening on the side of the vertebra and gives nerve supply to the muscles of the back of the knee and lower leg and provides sensation to the back of the thigh, part of the lower leg, and the sole of the foot. When there is a compressing or irritation to the nerve near the spine or through its course, it produces typical symptoms of Sciatica. Hence Sciatica is more an expression of the problem at the spinal level. The nerve irriation may be because compression due to disc prolapse, lumbar spondylosis, spinal tumors, dislocation of vertebra, muscular reasons etc. The surrounding muscles may also be inflammed, strained and swollen and causes further irriation of the nerve increases the pain symptoms. Disc prolapse is the most common cause of sciatica. Hence correction of the cause of nerve compression or irritation relieves the symptoms of sciatica.


  • Pulling or stabbing pain on the lower back extending through the buttock, back of the thigh, calf region and also till the foot, 
  • Numbness or tingling sensation over some parts of the buttock, the back of thighs and the calf region. 
  • Burning sensation in some regions. 
  • Numb or tickling sensation in some parts of thighs and legs. 
  • Pain aggravates on walking and gets worse at each step. 

Ayurveda treatment of Sciatica:
The correction of the main cause of nerve irritation is the main stay of treatment. Disc prolapse and disc compression are treated with pain relievers and local muscle relaxants. Elective surgery is the main option for unilateral sciatica and focuses on removal of the underlying cause by removing disk herniation and eventually a part of the disc.
Kati Vasti: An Ayurveda procedure useful in Sciatica

The main line of treatments is pacification of Vata. Just as in every other condition, the digestion and bowel of the person has to be regulated. Relieving constipation has remarkable effect on pain. In severe cases treatment procedures like Vasti and Kati vasti has very good effect.

Diet and Lifestyle: 
  • Food which causes fllatulence has to be avoided, like potato, chick pea, soya etc. 
  • One should not take very dry food devoid of oil. 
  • Curd should be avoided but buttermilk is beneficial. 
  • Ghee is very good for pacifying Vata and also increasing digestion. 
  • Conscious effort has to be made to maintain a proper posture while sitting. 
  • Avoid strenuous activities which increases stress on the spine. 
  • Mild and warm fomentation on the lower back relieves the strain on the muscles. 
  • One need not be on complete bed rest and mild excercise is much more beneficial. 
  • Belts to support the spine is good, but it should not be used for long duration continuously. 
  • Exposure to cold and driving on uneven roads has to be avoided. 
  • One should take bath in warm water. 

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