Pregnancy is one of the most important times in a woman’s life. The physical and emotional changes can be exciting and a bit frightening at the same time. As your belly grows, it’s normal to experience a myriad of aches and pain in places you never even knew existed! Leg pain is not uncommon during pregnancy, but it is important to report any sudden or debilitating leg pain to your physician.
Possible Causes of Leg Pain
One of the most common causes of leg pain during pregnancy is sciatica. The sciatic nerve runs down the back of your leg, and as your uterus expands to accommodate your growing baby, the increased pressure can cause sciatic nerve pain. Other possible causes of leg pain include uterine fibroids or a deep vein thrombosis (DVT). Both of the latter possible causes need to be addressed immediately by your healthcare professional.
When Should I Contact My Physician?
Any type of unrelenting or severe leg pain needs to be reported to your physician. A DVT is a blood clot or thrombosis that forms deep in the calf, leg or pelvis.
Symptoms of a Deep Vein Thrombosis
Blood clots are a medical emergency since they can move throughout the body and actually become lodged in your lungs. This is known as a pulmonary embolism. If you develop a blood clot, you may experience the following symptoms:
Intense aching calf or leg pain.
Redness and warmth in the area of pain.
Veins may have a larger appearance in the area of pain.
Treatment of Leg Pain
Specific treatment of your leg pain will depend on the cause. If the root of the problem is sciatic nerve pain, your physician or midwife can instruct you specific stretches to alleviate the pressure on the sciatic nerve. If the pain is coming from a deep vein thrombosis, you will need anti-coagulation therapy with LMWH (low-molecular weight heparin) to help dissolve the blood clot. You may also need to wear compression stockings with 20-30 mmHg to help decrease the risk of developing another blood clot. For other options, seek treatment from specialists like Ivein Vein Center.
Prevention of Blood Clots
Although it's not possible for you to totally eliminate the risk of developing a DVT, there are steps you can take to help reduce the risk. For example, stop smoking if you are a smoker. Not only does it increase the risk of DVTs, but exposing your unborn baby to cigarette smoke can cause serious medical complications to include low birth weight and respiratory problems. In addition, stay hydrated and avoid travelling for prolonged periods without standing and stretching your legs.
Most types of leg pain during pregnancy is benign in nature and comes with the territory of being pregnant. Rest assured that although you may be uncomfortable now, all of the aches and pains will be worth at the end of nine months when you hold your bundle of joy.