Hip pain and leg weakness are commonly caused by a herniated disk but can also be the result of other conditions that put pressure on the sciatic nerve, such as lumbar spinal stenosis, spinal tumors, injury, trauma, piriformis syndrome and spondylolisthesis. The sciatic nerve extends from the buttocks and hip area all the way down the legs. When that nerve is irritated it can cause tingling in the toes or feet, numbness and pain. Luckily, however, hip pain and leg weakness can improve over time with proper treatment.
Try physical therapy, as a rehabilitation program can be designed to help prevent recurring injuries. Physical therapy includes exercise to improve flexibility and posture and strengthen muscles. It should be started as soon as possible.
Use medication. Your doctor may prescribe muscle relaxers and anti-inflammatory drugs for short term pain relief and to reduce swelling. Chronic pain can be treated with tricyclic antidepressants and anticonvulsant medicine, both of which block pain messages from getting to the brain and help produce endorphins, which are natural painkillers in the body.
Get injections. Corticosteroid medicine can be injected into the affected area to reduce pain and suppress inflammation around irritated nerves. Corticosteroids are epidural steroid medicines that mimic cortisone and hydrocortisone hormones.
Consider surgery. For significant weakness, incontinence and pain that continues to get worse even with treatment you may want to consider surgery. A lumbar laminectomy involves surgeons removing part of the herniated disk pressing on your nerves. This procedure can be performed through a small incision while a surgeon looks through a microscope. Also known as a lumbar microdiskectomy, it causes less pain and offers quicker recovery time.
Think of alternatives. Acupuncture, massage therapy and chiropractic care may be effective in treating hip pain and leg weakness. With acupuncture, you will have thin needles inserted into your skin in an effort to relieve pain, while chiropractic care involves spinal adjustment and massage therapy is used to reduce pain.
Tips & Warnings
- Improve symptoms of hip pain and leg weakness by using cold packs to reduce inflammation, hot packs for pain, and over-the-counter medicines such as ibuprofen for pain and inflammation. You can also exercise regularly to release endorphins and stretch to relieve nerve compression.
- It's possible to suffer from permanent nerve pain depending on what's causing the discomfort and weakness. Complications include loss of feeling and movement in the affected leg, and loss of bladder and bowel function.
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