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What are some causes of radiating pain down the leg?

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Quick Answer

The main cause of radiating pain down the leg, which is sciatica, is a bulging disc in the spine, according to WebMD. Other causes of radiating pain include a narrowing of the spinal canal, bone spurs or nerve root compression. In rare cases, pregnancy or a tumor may cause the pain.

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Full Answer

In most cases, radiating nerve pain improves and goes away on its own, explains WebMD. Until it does, an individual should avoid sitting, instead alternating short walks with lying down and taking over-the-counter pain medications such as acetaminophen or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. A heating pad on the low or medium setting for 15 to 20 minutes at a time every two to three hours may also help, or an individual can try a warm shower in place of the heating pad.

Another treatment for radiating nerve pain involves using an ice pack for about 10 to 15 minutes for about two to three hours each day, reports WebMD. As of 2015, there is no scientific evidence that heat or ice helps, but some claim it does. Other treatments for radiating nerve pain depend on what causes the pain. If the symptoms do not improve, the doctor may suggest that the patient begin physical therapy or injections such as steroids. Stronger medications, such as opiates or muscle relaxants, may help, or a doctor may recommend surgery for the most severe cases.

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