May-Thurner syndrome is a blood vessel condition that most often affects young women. They may end up with a confusing combination of leg and pelvic pain and wonder if the two symptoms are connected.
You can’t know for sure that you have May-Thurner syndrome until you see a vein specialist like Kishore Arcot, MD, here at Memphis Vein Center for diagnostic imaging that allows us to examine your veins.
But you can make a good decision about the possibility of having the condition when you know your risk factors and recognize the symptoms.
About May-Thurner syndrome
May-Thurner syndrome occurs when the right iliac artery pushes against the left iliac vein. The vein carries blood out of your leg and toward your heart. As the artery compresses the vein, the vein walls narrow and interfere with blood flow.
If you have May-Thurner syndrome, you can end up with two potentially serious problems.
The narrowed vein forces some blood to accumulate in the vein instead of leaving your leg. This condition, called venous insufficiency, affects lower leg pressure and causes non-healing wounds.
Sluggish circulation often leads to a blood clot, also known as deep vein thrombosis. DVT poses a life-threatening danger if the clot breaks free.
Risk factors for May-Thurner syndrome
One thing to know about May-Thurner syndrome is that it typically occurs between the ages of 20-45. But age isn’t the primary risk factor.
You’re more likely to get May-Thurner syndrome if you:
- Are female
- Recently had a baby
- Had more than one child
- Take oral contraceptives
- Are dehydrated
- Have scoliosis
- Have a condition that increases blood clotting
Prolonged inactivity, congestive heart failure, antiphospholipid antibody syndrome, and inflammatory bowel syndrome are just a few examples of conditions that increase your risk of developing blood clots.
Symptoms of May-Thurner syndrome
The right iliac artery pushes against the left iliac vein in your lower pelvic region. As a result, you may have chronic pelvic pain.
Unfortunately, chronic pelvic pain is a generic symptom of at least two vascular conditions (May-Thurner syndrome and pelvic congestion syndrome), as well as many gynecologic problems.
May-Thurner syndrome also causes symptoms in your left leg, including:
- Leg swelling (often involving the entire left leg)
- Leg pain
- Discolored skin
- Skin rashes
- Varicose veins
- Slow-healing leg ulcers
Your leg pain may get worse as the day goes on or when you’re active. You could also experience more severe pain after spending a long time standing or sitting. Or your pain may intensify when your leg hangs down over the side of a chair.
Blood clots cause tenderness and pain, along with swelling and red or purple skin. But if your leg is generally swollen and discolored, you may not notice symptoms alerting you to a clot.
Blood clots can cause serious complications if they break away, travel to your lungs, and block blood flow. When that happens, you have a pulmonary embolism, which needs emergency care to restore circulation and prevent death.
Diagnosing May-Thurner syndrome
Any time you experience the symptoms listed above you should schedule an appointment to have your blood vessels evaluated. In addition to getting treatment that relieves your symptoms, it’s essential to identify and treat a blood clot as soon as possible.
We quickly diagnose May-Thurner syndrome in the office using ultrasound. The sound waves create detailed images of your blood vessels that show blood flow through the vein, narrowed and blocked vessels, and blood clots.
After diagnosing May-Thurner syndrome, we specialize in several minimally invasive treatments that open the vein and restore normal circulation. We also treat a blood clot (if one is present) with medications that dissolve the clot.
If you have symptoms of May-Thurner syndrome, don’t wait to get an evaluation. Call us at our Memphis, Tennessee, location or request an appointment online today.