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A pinched nerve occurs when a nerve is compressed by a muscle, bone or other tissue. It can be caused by injury to the affected area, overuse of muscles, or sometimes pregnancy. In pregnancy, edema or tissue swelling is common, and this may cause pressure on the nerves and result in a pinched nerve. Symptoms include numbness, a burning and tingling sensation, pain radiating down the back, buttocks and legs, muscle weakness, and tenderness. Treatment for a pinched nerve is aimed at easing the pain and restoring mobility to the affected area.
Consult your physician if you experience numbness, tingling or pain in a specific area or running down your neck, back or legs or if you lose muscle function. Your physician will conduct a physical exam. Once the source of the pain is determined, your doctor may conduct other tests, such as magnetic resonance imaging, to evaluate the affected area.
Take an anti-inflammatory medication such as ibuprofen or a muscle relaxant if suggested by your physician. Cortisone injections administered in the area of the pinched nerve area can help relieve pain and swelling as well.
Apply a cold pack to the affected area for 20 minutes every 2 hours for the first 48 hours after an injury to help relieve swelling and pain. If the pain persists after 2 days, try applying a heat pack to the painful area for 20 to 30 minutes every 2 hours for 24 hours.
Rest the affected area and avoid the activity that may have caused the pinched nerve in the first place, such as running or bicycling, until your condition improves. You may need to stay on bed rest, especially if the nerve pain in your leg is due to overuse.
Ask your doctor about physical therapy exercises that can help relieve your pain and improve your condition. She can recommend specific exercises for your condition, including muscle strengthening, leg extension or stretching exercises. A chiropractor also can help relieve the pain of a pinched nerve. You may also consider massage therapy, which can help ease the pain.
Explore surgical options if your physician advises you to do so and if your condition is permanent or extends beyond a few months or years.
Wearing a splint or brace on your leg to help restrict activity in that area until the pinched nerve improves may be helpful.
If exercises or any treatment makes your condition worse, you should let your physician know and you might need to seek alternative care.