A pinched nerve can occur due to various reasons such as overuse of the leg, any injury or trauma caused to the leg, poor posture, osteoarthritis, stress, and sometimes due to pregnancy. It often causes an excruciating pain and numbness in the leg and hence, should be treated immediately, otherwise it can make the muscles of the leg dysfunctional.
Symptoms of a Pinched Nerve
- A person with a pinched nerve will experience a feeling of numbness in the affected leg. Due to numbness, the movement of the leg becomes difficult. The leg may feel very heavy as if it has 'fallen asleep'.
- Twitches or spasms may be felt in the leg. Due to these spasms a person may become prone to a leg injury.
- A person may feel a sharp pain in the leg with a burning sensation. The pain may extend to the foot or the hip and the abdomen, depending upon the nerve which is pinched.
- A tingling sensation in the legs is felt. This prickling sensation may also radiate to the feet, knees and toes.
- A weakness in the leg muscles or a loss of feeling or sensation could be felt. It can even make standing and walking difficult for a person.
- The pain, numbness and tingling sensation can worsen at night. This can make it very difficult for a person to sleep comfortably, thus creating sleeping problems for him.
- During pregnancy, a woman can experience a pinched nerve due to the additional weight that pushes down on the spine because of the growing uterus. Another reason is that the expanded uterus in the pelvic region may press against some nerve resulting in a pinched nerve in the leg.
The first thing that a person with a pinched nerve should do is take any anti-inflammatory drugs so that the pain and swelling can be minimized. Application of ice on the affected area helps minimizing the pain and the swelling too. For this, ice cubes should be wrapped in a towel and applied on the affected area for fifteen minutes, every three hours.
Resting the muscles of the legs for the first two to three days can reduce the symptoms, especially if overuse of legs has caused the problem. After the initial resting period, do some stretching exercises, to release and loosen the muscles. They can provide some relief from the pain, but consult your doctor before doing any exercises for a pinched nerve.
A pinched nerve in leg, in most cases, will resolve on its own provided the mentioned home remedies are followed. In some severe cases, cortisone shots may be given to alleviate the pain.
Sometimes, pinched nerves can lead to other conditions such as peripheral neuropathy, carpal tunnel syndrome, tennis elbow, herniated disk or a bone spur. If the symptoms worsen or last for about a week, it is wise to consult a doctor at the earliest as early diagnosis is necessary to prevent further damage or complications.