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Home Remedies & Treatment for Lower Leg Pain

by Patty Weasler, RN April 05, 2022 0 Comments


senior fitting leg compression

Lower leg pain is a common complaint that can usually be managed at home with simple treatments. However, if the pain is sudden, intense, and does not go away it’s best you seek medical attention. Once your doctor has ensured your pain is not serious then you can begin lower leg pain treatment at home. Read on to learn the best treatments and how you can start incorporating them today.  

Rest and Time Off Activities

One of the common causes of lower leg pain is overuse which results in muscle, ligament, or tendon injury. If this is the case then rest should be one of your priorities. Avoid activities that work your injured leg. Allow yourself plenty of time to heal which will also help prevent re-injury in the future. Call on your friends or family to help with everyday errands and housework. 

Cold Therapy

There’s a reason why so many people reach for an ice pack when they have leg pain because it works! When you place an ice pack on your leg the cold numbs the affected area. It also constricts the blood vessels reducing blood flow. You can use an ice pack for 20 minute intervals several times throughout the day. Avoid keeping an ice pack on your lower leg when you are sleeping to avoid skin injury.

Heat Therapy

If you are suffering from lower leg cramps then heat is a good choice for you. The heat from a heating pad or another source will soothe your muscles allowing them to relax. Cramping is common during the nighttime so use heat therapy at night before you go to bed. You can switch off between cold and heat, also known as contrast therapy.   

When to Use Heat for Injuries

Elevate Your Leg

If you have heard of the acronym R.I.C.E then you may know how important elevation is for an injury. Those who have had a lower leg injury, swelling, or pain can benefit from raising their leg up onto a pillow or folded blanket. The goal should be to get your leg above the level of your heart. This position encourages blood flow back to the heart to decrease venous congestion. Keep your leg elevated while you are sitting on the couch resting or laying on your bed.   

Massage Relief

Lower leg pain can be difficult to manage and oftentimes needs several treatment modalities. If you are suffering from muscle cramps, charley horse, or an injury then incorporate self massage into your treatment plan. It can reduce stiffness and muscle soreness while encouraging better blood flow to the area. Use a massage roller ball over your calf muscles or a foam roller for larger coverage but make sure to wait at least 72 hours

Self Massage Tips, Techniques, & Tools

Compression

Compression works by supporting your lower leg to aid in healing. If you are suffering from shin splints, varicose veins, or muscle pain compression might be right for you. Use an elastic wrap around your leg or a compression leg sleeve. Both will apply pressure to give you support and trap heat around your leg. You’ll want to make sure that your compression device is tight enough that it doesn’t slide down but not so tight that it restricts blood flow to your leg.

Compression socks are also a popular option for lower leg pain from restless leg syndrome, running, traveling, or standing on your feet all day.

Lower Leg Pain from Running

Bracing & Supports

A brace is useful to support the lower leg and prevent further damage to the structures. You may want to use a calf brace when you are exercising to give you leg support and compression. A brace will also increase your body awareness as you move which can prevent you from doing anything that could exacerbate your injury. Look for a brace that is fully adjustable to allow for swelling.

Kinesiology tape is another popular option that allows for movement during activity while providing support to your joints and ligaments.

Stretches & Exercises for Lower Leg Muscles

Both painful acute injuries and chronic pain can make it hard to exercise your lower leg muscles. But it’s important to get moving to regain your strength and any lost range of motion. Talk to your doctor before you start a new exercise program. If you are unsure which movements are safe, make a physical therapy appointment and have a physical therapist guide you through exercises and stretches. They are professionally trained to help people recover from injuries.

Effective Lower Leg Stretches

Lower Leg Exercises

OTC Medications

Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications like ibuprofen reduce swelling and provide necessary pain relief. Acetaminophen is another common pain reliever but it does not offer the same anti-inflammatory properties as ibuprofen. Both medications are safe for most people but you should always check with your doctor or pharmacist before you start a new medication to prevent any unintended side effects. 

Hydration

Dehydration is one of the causes of leg pain. Keeping yourself well hydrated will positively impact your overall health and can affect the health of your leg muscles. When you are dehydrated your body is lacking the necessary electrolytes like calcium, potassium, and magnesium. You can develop calf pain or charley horses as a result. Drink water regularly throughout the day to prevent dehydration.

When to See Your Doctor

It’s important to see your health care provider before you begin lower leg pain treatment. They will ensure you do not have a serious condition like a deep vein thrombosis (DVT) which is a blood clot in the leg, peripheral artery disease, or compartment syndrome. Once you have been cleared by your doctor you can begin home simple treatment with therapies like rest, ice, compression, and medication. Then slowly reintroduce exercise and stretching into your treatment plan and in no time you’ll be back to doing all the things you enjoy.

Sources:

https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/003182.htm

https://www.webmd.com/pain-management/lower-leg-pain-causes-and-treatments

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Patty Weasler, RN
Patty Weasler, RN

Patty Weasler is a freelance health writer and nurse. She is certified in critical care nursing and has been practicing for over 10 years. Patty lives in Milwaukee, WI with her husband and three children. She enjoys spending her time with family and educating people about their health.



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