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12 May 2016

My tryst with back pain...

Note: This is not a medical recommendation. I am not a medical doctor. I am describing below, a treatment that helped ease my back pain. This is to illustrate that even complex illnesses could have simple solutions.

In the year 2006, I suffered from an acute back pain. I could not get up from the bed. Standing up was painful, sitting down was painful, bending forward was painful....As soon as I get up in the morning, the pain will start.

Many a day I used to spend wondering if I was destined to spend my life in back pain. It was terrible.
I went to a series of doctors. Neuro-surgeons mostly. They said that I was suffering from 'Disk Prolapse', commonly known as 'Slipped Disk'. As they explained to me, the gap between bones in the vertebra are separated by a thick viscous liquid. In certain cases this liquid leaks out and start pressing the nerves next to the vertebra. Most of these nerves control lower body functions. As the nerves get pressed, they transmit the pain to the lower body parts, especially lower back, bottom of the thighs and calf muscles. This radiated pain is unbearable. You can't sit or stand. You can't turn on your bed. etc etc...

All the doctors recommended lower back surgery. Every one has this statue in his office, provided by some pharma company, demonstrating how the disk fluid seeps out and presses the nerves. It is very graphic. The vertebrae is in deep brown colour, the nerves are deep red in colour and the white colour of the seeping disc fluid stands in stark contrast. When you look at the statue, it is very clear that the only cure for this is lower back surgery to remove the protruding disk. 

My wife, who is a doctor herself, was not happy with the suggestions for surgery. I have seen too many cases recur despite surgery, she told me. Through her contacts, she came to know of a very senior neuro-surgeon, who she had heard, was good at treating such cases. So off we went to meet this doctor.

As we had heard, he was a very senior doctor, who had graduated in 1969. During those days, the medical science had not developed and surgery for slipped disk was not available. He used to treat them the old-fashioned way - lifestyle changes, exercise, strengthening lower body and physical movement etc. 

Despite being a allopathic doctor, he suggested to me Yoga and Ayurvedic Treatment. While Yoga was not very useful, 41 days of oil massage did the trick for me. I was mostly cured of my back pain. While still, I used to get back pain once in a while, it was never as acute as it was before. I had been relieved completely of my back pain.

Or so I thought...

Somewhere in the mid of 2014, my back pain returned. As acute as before.

Despite my attempts at exercise, yoga etc, this pain continued. I knew that I needed an Ayurvedic Massage. But in the place I was in, 41 days of ayurvedic massage was next to impossible. So I tried the quickfixes.

The pain refused to subside.

I struggled for over 6 months like this. The pain was as acute as it was in 2006. I did not go to a doctor since I knew that they will diagnose a 'relapse of prolapse' and would definitely recommend surgery, especially since I was struggling for the second time. To adjust for the pain, my body had started bending towards one side, 'Bow Shape', being the classic symptom of disk prolapse.

Then I discovered self-massage. 

Marico had brought in a new version of its famous parachute coconut oil that it called 'Parachute Hot Oil'. It was nothing but coconut oil enriched with some spices and herbs. In a whim, I bought one small bottle (50 ML) of the oil, just to try. On day one, just before going to sleep, I applied the oil and massaged my back for may be 10 minutes at max. Next day morning, the pain was still there. Again I applied oil on  day two and did self-massage of my back for 10 minutes. I did on day 3 also...

On day 4, my back pain, which I was suffering for over 8 months, had miraculously disappeared. No pain. My body had straightened to its natural 'reed' like straightness. I bend forward, I bend sideways, I pressed my back, I poured water in my eyes to ensure that I was not dreaming.

I was not. I was awake. And my pain had disappeared.

I would have used about 15-20 ML of the oil for massage...

That was more than 7 months ago. Ever since applying the oil for massage, my back pain is under control and do not bother me at all. Even when I espy the start of the pain in the back, I apply the oil and massage once. And the pain ceases...

Why am I telling this story? Today, in CNN I heard the story of someone who had surgery and later took pain medications to assuage back pain and became addicted to it. 

I was there. While I had not become addicted to pain medications, I had become a "Paracetamol Popper', till I discovered oil massage.

Perhaps the guy in CNN could use some oil massage as well.

PS: I don't think the type of oil is important. You can use any oil for massage. If you apply it a bit warm (not hot, but warm), the effect will be better.

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