According to a study in 2016, about 50 percent of people with endometriosis may experience leg pain. Apart from leg pain, endometriosis causes painful, heavy periods and pelvic pain. Endometriosis growths can also affect the nerves surrounding the pelvis, which can cause severe pain in the legs, hips, and buttocks.
A person with endometriosis may experience pain in their lower body if the condition affects the nerves in and around their pelvis. Spotting endometriosis-related leg pain can be complicated because a wide range of other medical conditions can also cause leg pain.
What is Endometriosis?
Endometriosis is a chronic, noncancerous condition where cells that look like the lining of the uterus, called endometrial cells, grow outside the uterus. This causes chronic inflammation which can lead to scarring.
It is hard to estimate how many people have endometriosis because the condition often goes undiagnosed. By some estimates, at least 1 in 10 women in the United States have endometriosis.
Can endometriosis Cause Leg Pain?
The uterus lining sheds and leaves the body through the vagina during regular menstrual flow. This occurs in response to fluctuating hormone levels. When endometrial tissue grows outside the uterus, the cells shed, but they cannot leave the body, causing painful symptoms.
In some cases, endometrial tissues grow in and around the many nerves that travel through the pelvis and hip. These nerves in turn causes sensation in the leg.
Abnormal growths can put pressure on the pelvic nerves. This may cause pain and numbness in the buttocks, hips, and legs. Nearly all of the documented cases of leg pain associated with endometriosis involve abnormal growths on the sciatic nerve or one of its branches.
The sciatic nerve is known to be the largest and longest nerve in the human body. It starts in the lower back, runs through the pelvis, and down the leg into the foot, branching into several smaller nerves along the way. Pressure on this nerve can cause pain in the lower body.
What Does the Pain Feel Like?
The sciatic nerve provides sensation to most of the lower parts of the body. Pressure on the sciatic nerve can, causes a lot of different symptoms, most commonly numbness, pain, and tingling sensation that discharges into the following some parts of the body like; knee, outside of leg, hips, back of thighs & calf, buttocks, and (sole, heel, and top of the foot).
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Treating Endometriosis Leg Pain
There are several home remedies to help manage leg pain associated with endometriosis. Many of the methods that help reduce leg pain from endometriosis also help reduce the other common symptoms of the condition.
Everyday tips for finding relief include:
- Gentle exercise, such as swimming, walking, and yoga often help ease inflammation.
- Stretch your legs gently, focusing on the buttocks, thighs, calf, and feet muscles.
- Take over-the-counter pain medications, such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or aspirin to ease inflammation and pain.
- Use over-the-counter pain-relieving topical treatments, such as tiger balm, on the painful areas.
- Consume fruits and vegetables, especially foods rich in fiber and antioxidants, such as leafy green vegetables, citrus fruits, and berries.
- Eat lean meats and nuts that contain anti-inflammatory compounds, such as omega-3. This might include walnuts, fish, almonds, or sesame seeds.
- Limit intake of food linked with inflammation, such as red meat, alcohol, and heavily refined or preserved foods.
- Dehydrationcan increase inflammation and pain all over the whole body.
- Apply ice to the affected area using an icepack wrapped in a towel or dishcloth for 15 minutes sessions several times daily.
- Apply heat to the affected area using a heating bag or hot water bottle several times daily.
- Minimize stress, especially during or after menstruation or when symptoms are their worst.
- Learn and practice mindful exercises, such as meditation and guided visualization, to help distract the mind from pain and stress.
- Seek alternative therapies, such as acupuncture and massage therapy.
A person may also find that taking natural supplements that contain antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds can help with symptoms. Natural supplements may include:
- vitamins C, E, and A
- magnesium glycinate
- omega-3 fatty acids
- devil’s claw