It is true that often leg pain and leg cramps are just a result of over-exertion or under-exertion. But, in many cases leg pain can be a symptom of a serious underlying condition.
Also, it would be a grave error to assume that leg pain is always a “comes on its own and goes away on its own” condition. Nearly 26% of American adults suffer from some form of leg or knee pain / condition that leaves them writhing in chronic leg pain.
So, if you have already suffered from a few bouts of leg pain, this is what you need to know about the condition and treating it safely with essential oils.
You are treating your pain the wrong way!
Because leg pain is considered to be a common and a generally harmless condition, most people simply pop a pain pill or two and wait for it to subside on its own.
But, here is the deal with OTC painkillers – they do more harm than good. And, we are talking about serious harm here, along the lines of renal failure and liver damage.
Also, most nonprescription NSAIDs take a good 20-30 minutes to suppress the pain and their effect seldom lasts for more than 6-8 hours, after which you are bound to need another dose.
Now, here is the truth that nobody tells you about painkillers. These pills are highly addictive and even the most bearable pain will seem intense once you go off them.
But, as yet you don’t know what may be causing your leg pain!
And, here is the third and biggest problem with the indiscriminate use of painkillers – these pills temporarily numb the pain and often mask the underlying condition that may be causing the pain.
In other words, continue gulping down pain pills and you may actually give a health problem that is entirely treatable enough time to worsen.
While you may not have too much of an issue if the leg pain is a result of fatigue or over-exertion, there are some serious conditions that too cause leg pain, and these cannot be ignored.
For instance, leg pain and leg cramps can also be linked to:
- Peripheral arterial disease
- Nerve issues such as sciatica and others
- Lead poisoning
- Liver cirrhosis
- Acute dehydration
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- Electrolyte imbalance
Apart from these conditions, leg pain and cramps may also be experienced in the later stages of pregnancy, after dialysis and as a side effect of certain drugs such as statins, salbutamol and other water pills.
How Is Leg Cramping Different From Leg Pain?
Leg pain may not cause muscle cramps, but leg cramping will definitely cause pain. How intense the pain is and for how long it lasts will depend on the intensity of the cramping.
Leg cramps are simply painful muscle spasms usually experienced in the calf muscle. They can be intensely painful and feel like a really strong vice grip on the muscle.
Cramping is caused when the muscle is overworked and starved of oxygen. The pain can last for just a few minutes if the spasm is not too intense and deep or last for the whole day if the tissue is starved of oxygen for long.
While spasm has nothing to do with inflammation, leg pain is typically a result of some kind of inflammation. It could be because of an injury, due to overworking the muscles or joint or a result of bone degeneration.
You should see a doctor if…
- Your leg pain is not just regular pain, but feels like a burning sensation travelling along the length of one or both legs.
- The pain originates in your lower back or hips.
- There are visible signs of inflammation such as swelling and redness.
- There is numbness of the toes along with the pain.
- The discomfort is accompanied by a tingling sensation.
- You have fever and rash with the pain.
- The pain is caused by a fall or any other accident related injury.
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Why Are Essential Oils An Effective And Safe Treatment For Leg Pain?
Essential oils when used topically for massage and in the form of other external treatment modalities help to:
- Relieve muscle spasms
- Increase the flow of blood to the area of application
- Reduce inflammation
- Control the inflammatory response of the body to prevent further inflammation
- Dull the pain impulse
Moreover, these aromatic compounds have a soothing effect on the mind. So, they reduce the amount of cortisol and adrenalin in your body.
The Best 7 Essential Oils For Leg Pain & Cramps
Owing to its extraordinary analgesic properties, cajeput oil is used in all sorts of pain relief blends. From muscle and joint pain to toothache and headaches, none of these conditions stand a chance against the a-terpineol and limonene content of this essential oil. In fact, cajeput essential oil is one of the most effective natural ingredients for all types of nerve related pain.
Furthermore, it is also a strong anti-inflammatory agent that has a soothing and warming effect when used topically. The bioactives in the essential oil aid in improving blood circulation to the area of application and help to purge out the accumulated toxins from the muscle tissue.
If you suffer from painful muscle spasms, tagates oil will prove to be the most effective treatment for your woes. A muscle relaxant par excellence, the natural compounds in tagates oil can effectively handle even the most chronic and severe muscle spasm issues.
The antispasmodic oil is a potent anti-inflammatory compound. So, it not only prevents and heals muscle spasms but also deals with their after effect.
Even if you are new to the world of naturopathy and essential oil blends, chances are you have already used this “miracle” pain relief oil several times already. A mainstay in all those balms, pain relief sprays and liniments, wintergreen oil is one of the richest sources of methyl salicylate or natural aspirin.
Of course, it also boasts of 35 other phytocompounds that combat inflammation, spasms, infections and oxidative stress. The warming oil gets absorbed rapidly and numbs the pain impulse in the affected area.
At the same time, the warming sensation causes an increase in the blood circulation to the sore muscles / parts and aids in the quick removal of toxins and speedy healing. Wintergreen oil has been used for centuries in pain relief but it is toxic if ingested. Also, you should not use this oil if you are pregnant.
Yes that is cayenne as in the red, fiery pepper! The spicy, hot oil is a little magic potion when it comes to pain. Rheumatism, arthritis, nerve pain, shin splints, stress fracture and even compartment syndrome can easily be tackled with this essential oil.
If you are grappling with intense pain that cannot be tamed even by OTC pain killers, a mere drop of this essential oil mixed with the right carrier will yield rave results.
The only thing to remember is that this is a very, very strong oil, hence a little goes a long way. So, don’t go overboard with it and always do a patch test when using this oil, as it may not suit those with sensitive skin.
This oil works in the same way as wintergreen and cayenne oil but creates the exact opposite sensation. Unlike the warmth offered by wintergreen and cayenne essential oils, peppermint oil creates a cooling effect. This makes it particularly beneficial against extreme inflammation.
In terms of action, peppermint oil is a counter-irritant that exhausts the body’s supply of pain transmitting neurochemicals. This simply means that although the pain is there, your brain no longer feels it, which is pretty much the same action that a pain pill performs. But, peppermint oil does it in a matter of minutes plus it is absolutely safe.
6. Fir needle
This is another oil that has a long-standing reputation of being an effective treatment for muscle pain. The soothing oil with the earthy aroma works superlatively when it comes to relaxing tired and inflamed muscles. The stimulating effect of the oil helps to increase the natural healing ability of the body and aids in pushing toxins out of the system faster.
The antispasmodic oil is just right for any type of muscle ache and cramps. In fact, the active compounds in this oil offer a range of health benefits and it is considered a “cure all” natural compound in its native Madagascar.
The oil not only offers praiseworthy analgesic effects but also helps to curb skin sensitivity. This makes it an ideal addition to pain blends, which contain other strong aromatic compounds that may cause dermal irritation.
Ravensara essential oil relaxes the muscles, the nerves and above all the mind. The antidepressant effect of the oil helps to curtail the secretion of cortisol, the stress hormone that increases muscles tightness and worsens pain. This oils should not be used when pregnant.
Carrier oil blend:
Use a 2:2:1 mixture of hempseed oil, arnica infused oil and mustard oil (NOT mustard essential oil) for leg pain and leg cramp relief blends. While arnica brings its own anti-inflammatory properties to the blend, hempseed oil has notable analgesic properties and mustard oil provides a soothing, warming effect to the preparation.
Essential Oil Therapies And Blends For Leg Pain & Cramps
Recipe 1: Leg cramps relief massage oil
- 30 ml carrier oil blend
- 4 drops tagates
- 4 drops cajeput
- 4 drops lavender
- 6 drops wintergreen
Mix the oils together and store in an airtight glass bottle of dark color. To use, apply a few drops to the calf muscles and rub vigorously till you feel the muscle tightness easing away. This is a light relaxing blend that offers just the right amount of antispasmodic and analgesic effect.
Recipe 2: Prevent those leg cramps
If you suffer from chronic leg cramps, use this blend along with stretching movements 2-3 times a day. It will take about 3 to 4 weeks for you to experience notable benefits, but once you manage to get the condition under control, it is easy to keep it reined in. For the blend you will need:
- 30ml carrier oil
- 3 drops each of tagates, cajeput and ravensara
- 2 drops rosemary
- 7 drops peppermint
Mix the oils and store in a dark glass bottle. To use, apply the oil on the calf muscles and rub it gently into the skin. Stand about 2 feet away from a wall, facing it. Move your upper torso towards the wall touching your forehead to it. Do not move your feet, so you will essentially be creating a slanting line against the wall with your body.
You should feel a noticeable stretch in your calf muscles if you are doing things right. If you don’t feel much of a stretch, move 2.5 feet from the wall and repeat. Although you should feel a distinctive stretch, make sure you don’t lose your footing. Hold the position for 30- 90 seconds, gradually working your way up to 90 seconds. Relax and repeat once more. Do this 2-3 times a day.
Recipe 3: “Pain go away NOW” blend for severe leg pain
- 30ml carrier oil blend
- 30ml extra virgin olive
- ¼ tsp turmeric powder
- 4 drops ravensara
- 5 drops cayenne
- 5 drops wintergreen
- 10 drops peppermint
- 4 drops tagetes
Mix the oils together and store in a dark colored, roller ball glass bottle. To use, apply on the skin and rub gently for a few minutes to allow the blend to penetrate through the skin. Wash hands after application.
This preparation will stain your clothes, so it is best to use it at night. This is a very strong blend, so reserve it for when the pain is truly intense. Also, if you have sensitive skin, do a patch test before use.
Recipe 4: Pain relief poultice
- 1 tsp flax seed
- 2 inch piece of cinnamon or ½ tsp of cinnamon powder
- 1 inch piece of dried ginger or 1 tsp ginger powder
- 1 tsp calendula (dry herb)
- 1 tsp comfry
- 4 drops ravensara
- 4 drops fir needle
Use your food processor and some hot water to grind the above ingredients (except the essential oils) to a smooth paste. Add the essential oils to the mixture and apply on the tender muscle while it is warm.
Cover with gauze bandage and secure it in place with first aid tape. Let the poultice work its magic on your sore muscle for about 20-30 minutes. Remove the bandage and wash the paste off with warm water.
Recipe 5: Soothing bath or foot soak for leg pain
- 2 tbsp sea salt or Himalayan pink salt
- 1 cup Epsom salt
- 5 drops ravensara
- 5 drops cajeput
- 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
Mix the salts and set them aside. Then, add the essential oils to the olive oil and combine the blend with the salts. Fill the bath tub with hot water (as hot as you like) and put the salt-oil mixture into it.
Agitate the water to disperse large oil drops and then take a leisurely soak. For best effect, let the oils, salts and the warmth of the water work on your muscles for 20-30 minutes.
Recipe 6: Easing winter joint pain
- 60ml carrier oil blend
- 30ml Indian ginseng (Ashwagandha) infused oil
- 10 drops each of ravensara and fir needle oils
- 8 drops ginger
- 8 drops wintergreen
- 6 drops cajeput
- 6 drops cypress
Mix the oils together and keep in a dark glass bottle. Use twice a day if you suffer from chronic joint pain that gets more intense as the mercury plunges. This warming and anti-inflammatory blend will not only relieve pain but will also prevent future flare ups.