Ouch! My leg hurts…. This is a regular complaint in day to day ortho clinic. Our legs are very sturdy pieces of equipment. The interconnection of bones at the joints, alignment of muscles and corresponding nerves, arteries, and veins make it a super formidable structure. Our legs support all of our body weight and nature has given us a perfect way to transfer the body weight from the pelvis to the femur and from the femur to the tibia (with the support of feeble – fibula) and the tarsal and metatarsal bones beautifully. Any hindrance to the anatomical structure, lack of blood supply, inflammation, dilatation of veins, injury all of these factors leads to the pain in legs and foot.
Now, let's see what are the basic types of leg pain and how can we treat it naturally.
Arthritis is the most common reason for pain in the knee and further down to the ankles and heel. Heel pain is very common with the deposition of calcium on the heel bone and causing stiffness and pricking like pain in the heel. Arthritis can be due to degeneration of the bones like in osteoarthritis, inflammatory like Rheumatoid arthritis.
2. INTERVERTEBRAL DISC PROLAPSE (IVPD / SLIPPED DISC)
Intervertebral Disc prolapsed in the lower back: our spine is a beautiful structure of 33 bones stacked up one on top of another. There is a small cushion or disc between each vertebral body. Spinal nerves find an outlet to come out of the spine through narrow openings just on the sides of these discs. Any injury that pushes the disc out of alignment, puts pressure onto the nerves that lead to pain wherever the nerves supply electrical impulses. So, any malalignment in those regions can certainly lead to muscular spasms and pain. Pain in the thigh, leg, and heel is very common with a condition known as sciatica.
3. DISEASES OF ARTERIES & VEINS
Any stoppage/stagnation of blood in the lower leg can lead to pain, spasms, and stiffness. Varicose veins are nothing but pooling of blood in the deeper veins and due to the incompetency of the venous valve of the connecting veins, the blood is pushed to the peripheral veins. These veins dilate and become tortuous and visible outside, thus leading to pain in the lower leg. Generally, people who have to stand for long hours like teachers, soldiers, and front desk personnel usually suffer from this problem. Deep vein thrombosis is also common due to the block in the deep veins of the leg. This is a very debilitating and life-threatening one as the emboli (loose blood clots) can travel to the heart leading to a heart attack, lungs causing a pulmonary embolism, and may also travel to the brain leading to stroke and paralysis. This condition is troublesome and needs immediate medical attention.
4. DIABETIC NEUROPATHY
Diabetic neuropathy is generally weakening of the nerves of the body due to high circulating blood glucose. Diabetics have a tendency to lose the sensation of the feet and would feel like walking on a cloud. There is a burning sensation in the leg, calf, and also on soles.
5. FRACTURE /SPRAIN / LIGAMENT
Fracture/sprain/ ligament tear of the ankle, knee, etc: Pain in the leg may result from injuries like fracture/sprain and ligament tear. Besides pain, loss of function and swelling will ensue with the condition.
6. MUSCLE CRAMPS
Night cramps are very common in conditions like low calcium levels, dehydration, and fatigue condition. The calf muscle becomes tightened and it's a really painful condition, that often wakes people up from deep sleep.
7. ACHILLES TENDINITIS
The Achilles tendon is formed by the union of two major muscles of the calf region – gastrocnemius and soleus muscle that makes the major bulk of the calf. The Achilles tendon rises the heel during the walking movement. Sudden injury to the tendon due to vigorous running, dancing, walking, etc can cause it to strain and lead to Achilles tendinitis and thereby lead to heel pain.
8. PLANTAR FASCITIS
People who are runners, or obese, tend to get inflammation of the fascia connecting the heel. The pain is usually sharp and really annoying, especially in the morning.
9. OTHER PAINFUL REASONS
Ulcers, warts, corns, etc are also very common foot problems that can cause pain in the leg and toes.
TREATMENT OF LEG & FOOT PAIN
The thumb rule to treat these conditions is to seek prompt medical attention & advice. Of these major causes of leg and foot pain, the majority of them could be corrected by rest, physiotherapy, massage therapy, cold and hot fomentation, wearing of correct footwear, application of topical analgesics, and internal administration of pain killers.
Ayurveda massage often works wonders in many of the above conditions. Massage mobilizes the inflammatory fluid, improves blood circulation, and also eases cramps, aches, and pain. There are natural oils like moringa serum, wintergreen oil, gingelly oil, etc that can be of much help in dealing with pain.
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