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May-Thurner Syndrome

A contributor to DVT that can cause deep, throbbing pain

Do you feel persistent leg pain when sitting in a chair? Do your legs ache after driving the car? If you have throbbing or aching leg pain, it’s possible that you could have May-Thurner Syndrome. But you could also have this condition with no outward symptoms at all.

Overview Of May-Thurner Syndrome

May-Thurner Syndrome (MTS), also known as iliac vein compression syndrome, occurs when the venous outflow of the left lower leg causes swelling, pain, and blot clots in the veins. Patients usually first notice it as a dull or pulsing ache in the lower legs, but some people don’t know they have it until visiting a doctor.

The National Institutes of Health calls May-Thurner Syndrome a “not so uncommon cause of a common condition,” because it is rarely diagnosed but is a common contributor to deep vein thrombosis (DVT). The lesions that form deep within the body aren’t visible to the patient but can be properly diagnosed by Maryland Vascular Specialists.

Symptoms Of May-Thurner Syndrome

The symptoms of May-Thurner Syndrome can be similar to other vascular conditions, but it is a distinct diagnosis. A patient usually experiences the syndrome through symptoms like:

  • Swelling, especially in the lower legs
  • Leg tenderness to the touch
  • Skin ulcers
  • A feeling of warmth in the leg, especially the calf
  • Redness or discoloration
  • Enlargement of veins in the leg
  • A deep pulling or tugging feeling in the leg
  • Throbbing or pulsing sensations below the waist
  • Pelvic Pain Pain that radiates to other areas, like the groin

Left untreated, this syndrome can be life-threatening. If a blood clot builds up and breaks free in the body, it can cause a pulmonary embolism that affects your lungs and breathing.

Causes Of May-Thurner Syndrome

The exact cause of May-Thurner Syndrome is not clearly understood. There is a relationship between it and other vascular disorders, so if you have another vascular disorder, you are more likely to have May-Thurner as well.

May-Thurner Syndrome is found in somewhere between 18% and 49% of patients with lower extremity DVT. The wide range exists because many patients are not officially diagnosed as having May-Thurner Syndrome and may simply be told that they have DVT.

Genetics likely play a role in this syndrome. If you have a family history of vascular problems, you should share this information with your doctor.