Pain is very common in the family, irrespective of age, food habits, and race. Muscular pain is the most common affecting all age groups, and here are some analysis, treatment methods and herbal medicines that Ayurveda adopts to deal with pain.
Pain is associated with aggravation of functional element of the body termed ‘vata dosha’. Ayurveda considers pain to be due to accumulation of body toxins, which in-turn hinders circulation, leading to a painful condition.
Some common causes include muscle injury, joint strain, joint pain, infection to the joints etc.
According to Ayurvedic theory, the toxins accumulated in the body obstructs the nourishing channels of the muscles and joints, which in-turn reduces the O2 supply and supply of other required nutrients, which gradually leads to stiff muscles, and turns into pain.
Common symptoms include pain in a particular muscle or group of muscles, which radiates to surrounding joints, muscle stiffness, and excruciating pain with stiff joints.
Classification of pain
Ayurveda classifies muscular pain depending on body type
Vata type: Mostly characterized by severe throbbing pain, which is variable and migrating. Pain increases in cold conditions due to exposure to cold, or on eating or drinking cold foods and drinks. Other general symptoms include dry or scaly skin, stiff joints, gastric problems, irritability, anxiety and anaemia. Feels better with heat therapy.
Pitta type: Characterized with pain accompanied by burning sensation, redness and inflammation and pain, increases in hot weather, or due to exposure to heat. Other symptoms include diarrhoea, frequent stools, fever, seating, high irritability.
Kapha type: Characterized by pain accompanied by swelling, stiffness, edema, loss of movement of affected muscle or group of muscles. Pain increases on exposure to cold and wet weather. Other general symptoms apart from pain could be heaviness, excessive oil secretion, dull and persistent pain, mucus in stool etc.
Ayurveda advises various purification therapies, depending on body type and season, like purgation type of purification therapy during winter, to get rid of body toxins. These also help in prevention and management of pain.
Abhyanga: Involves complete body massage with an Ayurvedic body oil (thailam) for 45 minutes. The oil is chosen based on patient’s body constitution, season and disease condition. The rhythmic manner of massage helps relieve joints and stiff muscles, enabling free movement and better circulation. This also helps remove metabolic waste and toxins.
Pizhichil: Pizhichil means ‘squeezing’, wherein a cloth dipped in warm, medicated oil is squeezed over the patient’s body. Among the benefits of this procedure are relief from body pain and muscle spasms, promotes optimum health, helps heal fractured bones, increases immunity, improves muscle development and is rejuvenating.
Navara kizhi: Involves fomentation of body using bolus of cooked rice, which is first cooked with milk and herbal decoction. It strengthens the body, rejuvenates tissues, improves muscle tone and blood supply, and removes neurological disorders.
Ela kizhi: In this procedure, leaves and powders of medicinal plants are fried in medicated oil, and applied all over the body in rhythmic massage. It is good for arthritic conditions, lumbago, frozen shoulder, cervical spondylitis, frozen shoulder, stiff joints and post-paralytic spasms.
Kati Vasti: During this procedure, lukewarm ayurvedic/herbal oils are poured into an artificial bridge created around the affected area. The healing properties of the herb, helps heal the affected area. The oils used for this massage enriches blood and builds and maintains strong muscle and connective tissue. It helps prevent stiff muscles, numbness, and helps in managing degenerative conditions.
Pichu: A thick layer of cotton soaked in warm medicated oil is applied over the affected area and is recycled periodically to make it warm. This procedure is very effective for degenerative conditions and painful arthritis like osteo-arthritis, spondilitis, neurological disorders etc.
Some effective ayurvedic herbs for pain management are:
Guggulu : One of the most effective herbs in pain management, Guggulu has strong rejuvenating, purifying, medicinal and healing qualities, and hence is often used in Ayurvedic treatments. It also helps treat many other health conditions, including increasing white blood cell count.
Rasna: The plant root is effective in treating inflammations, rheumatism, osteoarthritis and other disorders.
Garlic: Garlic is the ‘wonder’ drug used to treat all health conditions, and this includes arthritic conditions and pain management too. It is however, mostly used in combination with other medications.
Yoga is excellent for prevention and management of pain and in improving flexibility of muscles. Some particular asanas that are effective in managing painful conditions when performed under expert guidance are – Padmasana, Bujangasana, Chalapasana, Naukasana, Dhanurasana, PArvatasana, and Koormasana.
Note: A holistic approach, coupled with Ayurvedic therapies and medicines, and lifestyle modifications, apart from good diet and yoga, can help in prevent and manage all muscular pains.