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Erika Rasmusson Janes

Leg Pain During Pregnancy

Ouch! What could be causing your leg pain and how can you treat it? We've got the answers you're looking for.

What is leg pain during pregnancy?

You know it if you’ve got it. Leg pain is any minor to major discomfort in one or both of your legs.

What could be causing my leg pain during pregnancy?

Sciatica is the most common cause of leg pain during pregnancy, says Sarah Prager, MD, an assistant professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Washington. What’s that, exactly? Well, the weight of your growing uterus can push on the sciatic nerve and cause pain to run down the back of your leg. It could also just be  leg cramps (most common in the third trimester) — but it could also be something more severe, like deep vein thrombosis (DVT) or uterine fibroids, so let your OB know.

When should I go to the doctor with leg pain during pregnancy?

“Any time pain is debilitating, you should mention it to your doctor,” Prager says. Because DVT — a  blood clot in your leg — is the scariest potential cause of leg pain, be especially vigilant if you’ve just taken a long flight or car trip (which can cause clotting) and your leg pain is centered in one leg, around the back of the knee or calf, and is accompanied by redness or swelling.

How do I treat my leg pain during pregnancy?

If your leg pain is caused by DVT, you’ll need anticoagulation meds and — yikes — possibly even hospitalization; if leg cramps are to blame, increasing the potassium in your diet can help. But unfortunately, run-of-the-mill sciatic leg pain is pretty much a suck-it-up situation, Prager says. Try physical therapy, massage, gentle leg stretches, exercise (like walking or yoga) and Tylenol.


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