Fibroids Causing Pelvic & Leg Pain
Symptoms of Fibroids
Although uterine fibroids aren’t life threatening, the symptoms of fibroids can be a major drag on quality of life. Persistent pelvic pain is a common complaint amongst women with fibroids, and one of the leading reasons that women seek treatment for their fibroids. Fibroids may also press on the sciatic nerve, causing pain that can radiate down the leg.
Variations in the number of fibroids, fibroid size, and fibroid location can cause a variety of pain patterns that differ from person to person.¹⁻³ These include:
Acute pelvic pain
Chronic pelvic pain
Sciatic nerve pain / leg pain
Pain during intercourse
Pain when using the bathroom
Women with fibroids may also experience dull pain or pressure sensations in their pelvic region. When fibroids grow, they can change the shape of the uterus and obstruct nearby organ systems. The urinary and gastrointestinal systems tend to suffer the most when fibroids enlarge beyond the uterus, contributing to uncomfortable pressure sensations throughout the pelvic region.⁴⁻⁵ These include:
Pressure sensations on the bladder or inside the abdomen
Frequent urination, difficulty urinating, or urinary incontinence
Hydronephrosis (swelling of the kidneys due to the inability to drain urine)
Constipation or tenesmus (persistent feeling of having to evacuate the bowels)
Fibroids & Acute Pelvic Pain
‘Acute pain’ typically refers to significant pain that has a rapid onset and is resolved with treatment. In the case of uterine fibroids, there are a few known sources of acute pain that are directly caused by fibroids:
Pedunculated fibroids (fibroids that grow on stalks) can get twisted, which can be very painful.¹
Submucosal fibroids that grow underneath the uterine lining can cause the cervix to stretch, causing pain.²
Fibroids can undergo ‘red degeneration’ (death of the fibroid cells), usually during pregnancy.²
Pain during intercourse is commonly reported by women with fibroids ³
Fibroids & Chronic Pelvic Pain
Uterine fibroids can also cause a persistent pain or pressure in the pelvis that lasts indefinitely. Posterior fibroids (on the back side of the uterus) may cause lower back pain or rectal pain as they impinge on the nearby anatomy, while anterior fibroids (on the front side of the uterus) can contribute to anterior pelvic pain, pressure, and urinary complications.
Sciatic Nerve Pain & Leg Pain
Fibroids may also cause sciatica. Sciatica refers to pain that is associated with your sciatic nerve, which runs from your lower back to your legs. Sciatica can occur if the uterine fibroids are pressing against the sciatic nerve, causing sciatic nerve pain that can radiate down the leg.²
Uncomfortable Pressure Sensations in the Pelvis
Pelvic pressure symptoms are rather common in fibroids. Around 30% of women with diagnosed uterine fibroids report sensations of chronic pressure on the bladder or inside the abdomen.³ Pelvic pressure sensations can vary from mild discomfort to episodes of intense pain, and are sometimes accompanied by sensations of congestion, bloatedness, or heaviness.⁴
Fibroids Can Cause Frequent Urination, Difficulty Urinating, or Urinary Incontinence
Anterior fibroids (towards the front of the uterus) can obstruct the urinary tract and press on the bladder, causing frequent urination, difficulty urinating, pain while urinating, and even urinary incontinence. Larger fibroids can occasionally obstruct the ureters (the urine ducts between the kidneys and the bladder). In such cases, the kidneys mays swell due to an inability to drain urine (a conditional called called ‘hydronephrosis’).⁴⁻⁵
Fibroids Can Also Cause Constipation, Rectal Pain, or Tenesmus
Posterior fibroids (towards the back of the uterus) can impede on the gastrointestinal tract, causing rectal pain, constipation, or feeling like you have to go when you already have (a sensation referred to as tenesmus).⁵
If you're experiencing persistent pelvic pain, pain during intercourse, sciatic nerve pain, leg pain, back pain, or pain when using the bathroom, you may be living with fibroids. Other abnormal sensations associated with fibroids include pelvic pressure, urinary symptoms, bloating, or constipation. You can review other symptoms of uterine fibroids here.
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 Khan, A. T., Shehmar, M., Gupta, J. K., & Gupta, J. (2014). Uterine fibroids: current perspectives. International Journal of Women’s Health, 6, 95–114.