Pains in the legs could be due to joint pains or due to muscle cramps. Joint pains are generally observed in arthritis, a condition which sets in as the person’s advances in age. In arthritis, the articulation of the bones gradually wears out over time, leading to pains whenever they function. This is called as Aama Vata in Ayurvedic language.
Muscle cramps usually affect the muscles of the leg. It is known as Khalli Vata in Ayurveda. There is a special term for the muscle cramps that affect only the calf muscles, and that is Pindikoveshtana. From an Ayurvedic point of view, almost all pains are caused due to vitiation of the vata dosha. Specifically in leg pains due to muscle cramps, the Vyana vata is vitiated. This is a sub-dosha of the vata which controls the involuntary muscles of the body.
Pains occur when there is an ama buildup in the body. Ama is the name given to the toxic materials caused due to improper digestion that cannot be expelled from the body. Such ama causes several problems, including leg pains. Ama is built up due to high agni, i.e. digestive fire, which is governed by the pitta dosha. Hence there is also a pitta relation with the leg pains.
(1) Useful Herbs in the Treatment of Leg Pains
1. Clove (Syzygium aromaticum)
Clove oil is applied on the affected leg muscle as a poultice. It provides immediate relief from pains, especially if they are due to muscle cramps.
2. Ginger (Zingiber officinale)
Ginger has wonderful painkilling properties. It must be included in the daily diet if muscular pains in the legs are a chronic problem.
3. Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra)
Licorice is very effective in relieving muscle aches. An infusion of its roots must be prepared in water and kept overnight. This helps in almost all kinds of muscle problems.
4. Madhuca (Madhuca indica)
Madhuca has positive effects on leg pains, especially if they are due to rheumatism. Its oil is applied locally over the affected regions.
5. Pepper (Piper nigrum)
Pepper helps in dilating the superficial blood vessels, thus helping in proper blood circulation. It also has analgesic properties and can be used as a liniment in muscular problems.
(2) Dietary Treatments for Leg Pains
Since improper digestion can cause leg pains, care must be taken not to eat anything that can cause digestive problems. Do not consume constipating foods; keep your diet simple. Consume plenty of green vegetables and leafy vegetables that contain fiber. Vitamin C obtained from amalaki, oranges and tomatoes is also good for digestion. After each meal, make it a habit to eat a plantain instead of some calorie-rich dessert like ice-cream. A plantain is a food that is extremely rich in minerals of potassium, magnesium and calcium. Hence it is extremely beneficial for proper metabolism within the leg region. Avoid coffee and chocolate if you have persistent leg pain problems.
The importance of adequate amount of fluids cannot be stressed enough. Dehydration is a leading cause of leg pains. Keep drinking one glass of water every waking hour to prevent dehydratiom.
(3) Ayurvedic Treatments for Leg Pains
There are good oils in Ayurveda that are used for external application over the affected legs. If the muscle pains have occurred suddenly, then most likely they are cramps. In such cases, Mahanarayana tailam or Praharini tailam are applied to get relief. Warming the oils a bit and then applying has better effects.
For internal administration, Sinhanaada Guggulu is prescribed. This drug is also a mild laxative. So it will also correct whatever digestive problems may be there with the system. Other commonly prescribed medicines are Laxmivilasa rasa and Pratapa Lankeshwara rasa.
(4) Home Remedies for Leg Pains
1 If you have regular complains of pains in the legs, then there are some simple exercises you can do in order to get relief from them. Some of them are described:-
a) Lie on your back on a firm bed. Wear some loose clothing over the legs, such as shorts or pajamas. Raise your legs gradually in the air, as far as they can go. The heels should point skywards. Hold the legs in this stretched position for about ten seconds and then bring them down again. Do this five times per session, and repeat the exercise thrice a day.
b) Alternatively you can stand facing a wall at an arm’s length distance from it. Stretch out your arms and touch the wall with your open palms. Then slowly pull yourself forward (towards the wall). Feel the stretching pressure building up in your legs. Hold yourself in this stretched position for about ten seconds and then let go. Do this five times per session, and repeat the exercise thrice a day.
c) Even Yoga has several leg stretching exercises that can be used with great positive effects. These exercises are Uttanpadasana, Janusandhi and Gomukhasana.
2 If the cramps occur when performing an exercise workout or some physical activity, then have a glass of lemon water with a pinch of salt in it.
3 If you have leg pains in the joints due to arthritis, then crush two to three cloves of garlic and add them to a glass of diluted milk. Boil it to quarter its amount and drink it just before bedtime.
4 Applying a hot pack or fomenting the leg with steam helps to improve circulation in the leg and eases the pain. Even applying cold packs helps. This will reduce the blood flow into the leg region and help the muscle to relax.
5 Put one part of camphor in twenty parts of mustard oil. Keep this in the sun till the time the camphor properly dissolves in the oil. Use this oil to massage the leg on a daily basis.
6 If you get a sudden sprain in the leg, then prepare a paste of turmeric with lime and salt and apply it on the affected part.