What causes neck pain?
Neck pain—we’ve probably all experienced it at some point. Strained muscles stemming from poor posture or awkward sleeping positions often cause it.
While your average neck pain will resolve itself in a few days or after a yoga, when neck pain is chronic it is often caused by degeneration of the bones, discs, and cartilage. The cartilage that cushions the area between each bone and joint degenerates and there is loss of motion, stiffness, shooting pain, numbness and even headaches. Degeneration of the cartilage is caused by wear and tear, and mostly affects people over 50 years old.
Aging causes the cartilage to lose strength and degenerate to a point where the discs become flat, thin, expand and even slip out of place (herniated disc).
Ayurveda’s approach to relieving chronic neck pain
These issues are called cervical osteoarthritis (degeneration) or cervical spondylitis (inflammation). Ayurveda has a similar condition called greeva graham, which is described as neck stiffness, inflammation and pain. Greeva (neck) and graha (stiffness) is caused by increased vata dosa, which leads to the depletion of body tissues. The dryness caused by vata also leads to depletion of kapha dosa.
The first approach to resolving neck pain requires identifying what is causing excess vata.
Related Article: Want to Be Healthy? Balance Vata Dosha! Here's How In 10 Ways
Foods and Lifestyle Habits That Increase Vata Dosa
- Eating too fast or while on-the-go
- Foods that are dry, cold, raw, light, old, spicy or processed
- Fasting or waiting too long to eat
- Skipping meals
- Non-nutritious foods, soda, sweets, junk food
- Sleeping during the day and staying awake at night
- Suppressing natural urges (gas, urine, stool, burping)
- Too much exercise or lifting weights that are too heavy
- Walking or biking for long distances
- Stress and prolonged emotions of grief, anger or fear
Balance vata dosa with your diet
If you’re experiencing chronic neck pain, make sure to eat nourishing foods that are good for digestion. Vata-balancing and nourishing foods include wheat, milk, ghee and butter. Sipping warm water also helps digestion.
Favor foods that are sweet, salty, and sour to pacify vata dosa. Warm soups, stews and kichari are a good place to start. Avoid cold or iced drinks, raw food and dry food like chips, popcorn, and crackers. These types of food have the same qualities as vata and will further increase the aggravated vata dosa.
Kottakkal Products for Neck Pain
Rasnairandadi Kwatham useful for back pain, neck pain, flank pain, and locked jaw.
Sahacharadi Kwatham supports neck and back pain, loss of movement and inflammation.
Yogaraja Guggulu Vatika widely used for various types of arthritis caused by vata.
Kshirabala (101) SoftGel Capsule supports tissue degeneration, nerve, and muscle pain.
Dhanwantaram (101) SoftGel Capsule useful for vata related conditions of arthritis, paralysis, bone, and neuromuscular disorders.
Dasamula Rasayanam supports vata pain and inflammation.
Oils for Neck and Full Body Massages
One of the most enjoyable ways to relieve neck pain: warmed oil for abhyanga (self massage) or a massage from a loved one.
Valiya Sahacharadi Oil is particularly powerful to use during massage to loosen muscles and stiff joints.
Bala (Maha) Oil is recommended if vata is extremely out of balance or if you have osteoarthritis orcomplete loss of movement.
Maha Narayana Oil is well known for itsanti-aging properties.It also relieves all kinds of arthritis.
Dhanwantaram Oil is useful for all neuromuscular and skeletal disorders of vata origin.
Ayurvedic Therapies for Neck Pain
- Abhyanga (oil massage followed by a warm bath or shower)
- Mild purgation with castor oil and milk
- Greeva basti (herbal oil around the neck)
- Shirodhara (warm oil streaming on the forehead)
- Pinda Sweda (warm herbal bolus applied over area of pain)
- Pizhichil (herbal oil bath)
Instruments to Help Heal Neck Pain
- Cervical collars restrict the movement of the neck, which helps to reduce pain and heal the ligaments faster. The collars also tend to increase the space between each neck bone, thereby reducing the extent of disc herniation.
- Cervical pillows keep the neck in a comfortable position while you sleep.
Yoga for Neck Pain
Yoga strengthens the neck muscles and ligaments; especially poses like Surya Namaskara, Bhujangasana, Makarasana, Ardha Naukasana and Marjariasana. If you are not familiar with yoga, please seek guidance from a qualified teacher to learn the proper technique.
The benefits of yoga are greater if you lightly apply a pain-relieving oil such as Maha Narayana Oil ten minutes before practicing Asanas.
For more information on neck pain, read our related article “Osteoarthritis”.
Original source: Dr JV Hebbar, EasyAyurveda.com
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