Leg Problems, Noninjury
If your leg problem does not require an evaluation by a doctor, you may be able to use home treatment to help relieve pain, swelling, stiffness or muscle cramps.
- Rest and protect a stiff or sore area. Stop, change, or take a break from any activity that may be causing your pain or soreness.
reduce pain and swelling. Apply
Reference ice or cold packs immediately to prevent or minimize swelling. Apply the ice
or cold pack for 10 to 20 minutes, 3 or more times a day.
- For the first 48 hours, avoid things that might increase swelling, such as hot showers, hot tubs, hot packs, or alcoholic beverages.
- After 48 to 72 hours, if swelling is gone, apply Reference heat and begin Reference gentle exercise with the aid of moist heat to help restore and maintain flexibility. Some experts recommend alternating between heat and cold treatments.
- Compression, or wrapping the sore area with an elastic bandage (such as an Ace wrap), will help decrease swelling. Don't wrap it too tightly, since this can cause more swelling below the area. Loosen the bandage if it gets too tight. Signs that the bandage is too tight include numbness, tingling, increased pain, coolness, or swelling in the area below the bandage. Talk to your doctor if you think you need to use a wrap for longer than 48 to 72 hours; a more serious problem may be present.
- Elevate the area on pillows while applying ice and anytime you are sitting or lying down. Try to keep the area at or above the level of your heart to help minimize swelling.
- Reference Remove all rings Opens New Window Reference Opens New Window, anklets, or any other jewelry that goes around an extremity. It will be harder to remove the jewelry after swelling develops.
- Gently massage or rub the area to relieve pain and encourage blood flow.
- Stand and move your legs. Gentle motion may help with cramps that are brought on by exercise.
Drink plenty of fluids. Sports drinks, such as Gatorade, will often help leg cramps. For more information about the home treatment of muscle cramps that are often caused by dehydration from exercise or heat, see the topic Reference Dehydration.
If you think your child is having Reference growing pains Opens New Window, try warmth and massage to relieve discomfort in the legs. Do not rub or massage a calf that is swollen.
For leg cramps, consider wearing support stockings during the day, and take frequent rest periods (with your feet up). If leg cramps occur during pregnancy, make sure you are eating a diet rich in Reference calcium Opens New Window and Reference magnesium Opens New Window. Talk with your doctor about taking a calcium supplement. He or she may recommend a calcium supplement that does not contain phosphorus.
Do not smoke. Smoking slows healing because it decreases blood supply and delays tissue repair. For more information, see the topic Reference Quitting Smoking.
|Try a non-prescription medicine to help treat your fever or pain:|
|Be sure to follow these safety tips when you use a non-prescription medicine:|
Reduce stress on your leg (until you can get advice from your doctor):
- Use a cane or crutch in the hand opposite your painful leg.
- Use two crutches, keeping weight off your leg. Canes and crutches can be rented from most pharmacies. Crutches are recommended if a cane causes you to walk with a limp.
Symptoms to watch for during home treatment
Reference Call your doctor if any of the following occur during home treatment:
- You are unable to use your leg normally.
- Pain or swelling develops.
- Reference Signs of infection Opens New Window develop.
- Numbness; tingling; or cool, pale skin develops.
- Symptoms become more frequent or more severe.
|By:||Reference Healthwise Staff||Last Revised: Reference September 19, 2012|
|Medical Review:||Reference William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
Reference H. Michael O'Connor, MD - Emergency Medicine