Muscle cramps: Causes, Symptoms, Ayurvedic Treatment, Herbs

leg cramps

Article by Prof. Dr MS Krishnamurthy MD (Ayu)., PhD.
Muscle cramps are the common suffering among the people and it is found irrespective of gender, geographical area, nature of food, work pattern etc. But the individuals who often walk for long , stand for prolonged period or give more exercise to their the legs/relative muscles are prone for getting the cramps more likely. Even though it is not a life threatening problem it disturbs their routine or to their profession even. Ayurveda system of medicine contributes significantly in the treatment of muscle cramps and in few of the cases it provides complete relief too.

Causative factors

Common causative factors for muscle cramps: 
Dehydration – lack of sufficient body fluids / water.
Imbalance of electrolytes (calcium, sodium, potassium, and magnesium etc)
Muscle strain/ over exertion
Poor circulation
Wrong shoes/tight wears
Uninterrupted monotonous work
Constant position for a prolonged period etc
Rarely prolonged medication may also result in cramps or worsen the pre existing discomforts.

Clinical features

Clinical features of Muscle cramps: 
The presentation may vary from mild twitching to excruciating pain.
Abrupt onset of pain in localized muscular area
Inability to do the proper and routine muscular actions
Bulging lump etc
Common lesions of Muscle cramps
Forearm, Thigh, Abdominal wall, Arms, Flanks, Jaw etc

Why does it occur?
It is caused as a result of involuntary and forcible contraction of relative muscle that does not relax. Hence contracted muscle fibers are stiffened/ swollen and produce series of twitching which results in severe pain on sudden actions. In case of muscular fatigue it may cause even without proper actions also.

Ayurvedic understanding

Ayurvedic understanding about muscular cramps/spasms: 
In Ayurveda, Mamsagata vata and Mamsasthita/Mamsasthayi vata/Mamsashrita vata conditions have been explained.

It is resulted due to prolonged factors which provoke Vata dosha (food-habit-medicine-age-cold geographical area-cold season etc). Further, vitiated vata takes shelter in the debilitated muscles and vitiate the kapha dosha over there.

Thus on declining the muscular strength painful condition followed with spasm/bulging is caused. This is termed as Mamsagata vata or depending upon the location if the Mamsa predominant part is affected ‘Pindikodveshtana’ word is also used in this respect.

Line of treatment

Line of treatment for Muscular cramps: 
Vata pacifying measures are undertaken. As the Kapha kshaya is also found effort should be carried so as to give strength to the muscular tissue which is the Ashraya (site) of Kapha also.

Pitta dosha even though not directly contribute in the causation of this complaint in case of prolonged illness Pitta is also involved and it is pacified by the Manda (slow) and sthira (stable) drug substances. Rasayana (rejuvenation) is the most apt method to achieve all the above said factors.

Single drugs

Single drugs beneficial in Muscle cramps: 
Bala-Sida cordifoila
Amalaki-Gooseberry-Emblica officinalis
Kooshmanda-Ash gourd-Benincasa hispida
Shunthi-Dry ginger-Zingiber officinale
Rasna-Pluchea lanceolata
Kashmari-Gmelina arborea
Gokshura-Tribulus terrestris
Draksha-Raisins-Vitis vinifera
Jeevanti-Leptadena reticulata
Amrita-Tinospora cardifolia
Chandana-Sandal wood-Santalum album
Vidari-Ipomea tuberose etc

Snehana, Swedana

Oleation (Snehana) and Sudation (Swedana): 
Oleation and mild sudation will help to pacify Vata dosha.In chronic cases Patrapinda sweda with Vata and pittahara dravyas like Chincha (tamarind),Nirgundi (Vitex negundo),Eranda(castor) etc will help to pacify Vata and hence to stabilize it in its site.

Ayurvedic formulations

Formulations of choice in Muscular spasms/Cramps: 
For external application-
Lakshadi taila
Ashwagandha bala lakshadi taila
Ksheerabala taila
Mahanarayana taila
Masha taila
Mahamasha taila etc

How to use Ayurvedic oil for muscle cramps:
Any of the above oils is warmed slightly to just above room temperature. Gently rubbed over the cramp area for 5 minutes. If required, gentle steam therapy is administered.

For internal administration-
Narasimha rasayana
Balaguduchyadi kashaya
Ksheerabakla taila(101 avartana)
Maharaja prasarini taila
Yogaraja guggulu
Goksuradi guggulu etc

Wholesome diet and habits

Unctuous (oily) and easily digestible food, protein rich eatables, sour and sweet food and beverages, , limited-proper exercise, milk, ghee, Ragi ,proper rest and sleep etc are recommended.

Unwholesome diet and habits

Night awakening, warm and spicy food, stress and strain, heavy exercise etc are forbidden.

Last drop, 
Muscle cramps is most common in extreme cold as well as hot conditions. That too calf muscle cramp is the repeatedly complained health complaint among the sufferers.
When the cramp is manifested suddenly most of the people and the family members will be panic due to the painful uttering of the sufferer.

Gentle relaxing and smooth massage over the part will usually give the relief within 15-20 minutes. Enough rest and relaxation are the immediate needs during this suffering. Take care of yourself from muscular cramps.
Article by Prof. Dr MS Krishnamurthy MD (Ayu)., PhD.
Read related: Leg Cramps During Pregnancy: Causes, Remedies, Ayurvedic Oil Massage

One comment on “Muscle cramps: Causes, Symptoms, Ayurvedic Treatment, Herbs

  • Jitender Sehrawat

    28/09/2021 - 10:10 pm

    why you written in few of cases ayurveda provide complete relief?

    In most of cases ayurveda provide relief with muscle cramps.Your words are confusing and doubtful.

    Reply to comment

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