A number of women have asked us if uterine fibroids can cause leg pain. If so, what do you do to cope with the pain? How can leg pain from fibroids be relieved?
Uterine fibroids are considered one of the most common gynecological conditions that women face. Whether the fibroids are clinically silent or symptomatic depends primarily on the location of the benign tumor(s), but also their size. A small tumor can be asymptomatic or manifest itself only in heavier periods. Asymptomatic fibroids are often detected incidentally on pelvic ultrasound; often done for other reasons (ex. pregnancy).
Leg pain in one or both legs is an unusual symptom of fibroids. This pain is often identical to the pain from sciatica. Sciatica refers to the pain that is felt along the path of the sciatic nerve. It is often the result of a herniated disk of the lower (lumbar) spine compresses the nerve as it courses out of the bony spinal canal. This pain is felt from the lower back, in to the hips and buttocks, and down one or both legs. Fibroids can compress the sciatic nerve (farther down its path from the spine) and cause the same type of pain as the more common herniated disc related sciatica.
Leg Pain From Fibroids: How to Get Relief
The leg pain that is associated with fibroids is typically due to subserosal (or large intramural) fibroids that are located in the back (posterior) aspect of the uterus. These hard and firm tumors compress the pelvic nerves which may include the sciatic nerve resulting in sciatica pain that is felt in the leg.
If the symptoms correlate with the location and size of the fibroids, then treating the fibroids should relieve these symptoms. Uterine fibroid embolization (UFE) is an outstanding treatment for getting the relief of fibroid-related symptoms.
What Can I Do Now for Leg Pain from Fibroids?
Give your feet a break. Just let them rest: lie down, possibly raising your legs a little higher than your heart. This position will improve venous blood flow, reduce swelling, and relax muscles.
Use a cold compress. Apply it to the area from where the pain comes. It can be an ice pack wrapped in a thin towel (or, for example, a bag of frozen peas from your freezer). Make sure to apply it for 15–20 minutes.
Take an over the counter painkiller. Consult your doctor to find the best option for you.
Get a massage. Massage your feet, legs, and hips, gently flexing your muscles.
Do yoga. Regular yoga classes will help relax your leg muscles and relieve tension in your pelvic area.
Use sea salt. Take a warm foot bath with it.
Take a contrast shower. Direct a stream of cold water on your feet, then a stream of hot water (one minute each). Finish with cold water.
All of these methods can help reduce leg pain from fibroids. However, you should understand that these are only temporary measures. You can completely get rid of the pain only by addressing its cause, i.e. treating uterine fibroids.
A very safe, reliable, and minimally invasive way of treating fibroids is uterine fibroid embolization (UFE). This nonsurgical, outpatient procedure takes only 30-40 minutes when performed by an experienced Interventional Radiologist like Dr. John Lipman. Patients can go home just a few hours after the procedure. Recovery period is usually 5-7 days, and patients return to their usual lifestyle soon after that.
To learn more about UFE and uterine fibroids contact Atlanta Fibroid Center at 770-214-4600 or make an appointment online at ATLii.com.