Pain is very difficult to bear and one is reminded of Julius Caesar’s quote in this regard - “There are more people willing to kill themselves than those who patiently endure pain.”
It is in fact pain that brings a patient to a doctor, whatever the illness. Even when the disease is grave, a person may not seek treatment until the pain is felt.
What is pain?
It is a sort of reaction of the body to an injury, infection or inflammation. Pain can affect various parts of the body – teeth, stomach etc. Inflammation in the muscles, nerves, arteries, bones and other tissues in that part of the body causes pain. In Ayurveda the treatment is carried out after identifying the exact cause.
Damage to the vertebral column, kidneys, uterus and prostate gland can cause back ache. When the cause is found to be inflammation of the muscles in these parts, ‘kizhi’ - massage with heated herbal pouch - oils and other medicines can be applied. In order to ease pain, ‘karinochi’, ‘avanakku’ and dried ginger are applied on the patient. This treatment, along with adequate rest, makes the pain vanish. Subsequently, advanced treatment can be started.
More than 90 % of the cause of back pain is disk problem or inflammation in the muscles near the spinal cord. The pain may spread from the back to the leg too. When the pain is ignored, it becomes severe.
Causes for neck pain include muscle cramps, cervical spondylitis, spondylitis etc. People engaged in heavy physical exertion as well as those working with computers can be affected. They may find it difficult to even move their neck. The pain may even be felt like spreading suddenly to the arms.
In this case too, ‘kizhi’ with medicinal leaves, balms and medicinal bandages to the area where inflammation is seen helps reduce pain. Special massage and minor traction is also done. ‘Thalam’, a treatment on the head, is another effective remedy.
Pain on heel
This condition is termed ‘vathakandakam’ in Ayurveda. Pain on the heel is felt when one gets up after sitting or lying down at a place for some time. Walking for some distance eases the misery. Modern medicine terms this condition as plantar fasciitis and calcaneal spur.
Ayurvedic treatment aims at increasing the blood flow to the area and flushing out the inflammation. ‘Kizhi’ with medicinal leaves, powders and applying warmth to the heel, along with ‘dhara’ and ‘agnikarmam’ are very effective.
Pain on knee
Injuries suffered in younger stage and wear-and-tear to the bones during old age lead to pain on the knee. There are several muscles, ligaments, cartilages, bones, synovial fluid and several other tissues in the knee area. The affected part has to be identified before the treatment.
During the early stage of the ailment, a paste of the skin of drumstick plant (Muringa) and leaves of tamarind mixed with ‘kunthirikkam’ and ‘chenninayakam’ can be applied. In case wear and tear of bone is the cause of the pain, ‘dhara’ - the Ayurvedic procedure in which oil is allowed to dripping on the affected part of the body – eases the pain. ‘Kizhi’ with leaves and ‘abhyangam’ are also effective.
Extreme care has to be taken when stomach ache is diagnosed. The cause can be minor like acidity or gas trouble or it also be a sign of inflammation in the internal organs or urinary stone.
Kitchen remedies with nutmeg, asafoetida, garlic, ‘muthanga’ fruit etc. are effective, but prolonged treatment without medical attention is not advised.
Pain is felt inside the ear owing to cold, bacterial or fungal infections or damage to nerves. Certain internal inflammations and high blood pressure also lead to ear ache.
Temporary relief can be gained by heating ‘chenninayakam’ in juice of tamarind leaves and applying around the ear. Pain caused by fungal infections can be tackled with the smoke of ‘guggulu’.
There is no single medicine or treatment for all kinds of pain. Pain relievers may reduce the misery, but they don’t solve the real problem. Moreover, excessive use of pain killers has severe side-effects.
(The author is Assistant professor, Kayachikitsa, Govt Ayurveda College, Pariyaram, Kannur, Email: email@example.com)