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Why do legs hurt during periods?

Leg pain during periods is pretty common. But if the pain that is unbearable and long lasting, it may due to an underlying disease or health condition. Know the causes of leg pain during periods.
View All Images Woman experiencing leg pain
Mild leg pain during periods is common. Image courtesy: Freepik
Natalia Ningthoujam Published: 14 Feb 2024, 19:30 pm IST
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For many women, period pain doesn’t end with abdominal cramps. Sometimes, the pain can be felt in the breasts, bottom or back. The pain may even extend to legs sometimes. A mild degree of leg pain or mild discomfort is common during the menstrual cycle due to the hormonal changes. However, if the pain in your legs becomes unbearable and continues even after your periods, it may be a sign of an underlying health issues. We tell you the causes of leg pain during periods and ways to get relief.

What are causes of leg pain during periods?

Leg pain during periods can be due to physiological or pathological reasons. Here are some causes why your leg may hurt during periods:

1. Physiological causes

They are mainly because of hormonal changes during the menstrual cycle, and they not related with any disease or disorder, says obstetrician and gynaecologist Dr Divya T.S.

Close-up of a woman's legs
Hormonal changes can cause leg pain during periods. Image courtesy: Freepik
  • During the menstruation phase, there is increased prostaglandin secretion. Prostaglandin acts on uterine muscles and helps in contraction of uterus and shedding of endometrium. It also acts on other muscles that leads to the contraction of the muscle and the pain. The prostaglandin also triggers the inflammation process in the body which results in pain of the lower back, legs and lower abdomen.
  • Retention of fluid (water) during periods causes swelling of the muscles and internal pain in the muscles, especially in the legs and thighs.

2. Pathological reasons

Pathological conditions of leg pain are due to some underlying disease or disorder.

  • Fibroids might lead to pain in legs, which can be severe during periods.
  • Endometriosis, which is a condition where the lining of the uterus grows outside the uterine body. This is the most common condition for increased pelvic pain or leg pain during the cycle. A 2018 study published in the Gynecology and Minimally Invasive Therapy found that endometriotic growths on the sciatic nerve can cause pain in legs and hips.

These are the pathological conditions which need to be addressed.

Wearing tight fitted dresses can also hamper the blood flow to the muscles, resulting in both discomfort and leg pain, says the expert.

How is menstrual leg pain different from the usual muscle soreness?

The onset of usual muscle soreness during the menstrual cycle will be just prior to periods, maybe a few hours to one day prior to menstruation and it will last for 24 to 48 hours. This will not require any medical help. Any pain that can subside with the help of a mild analgesic or with home remedies is normal, says Dr Divya. Apart from this, any stabbing or throbbing pain, or any pain which starts one week before the menstruation and lasts after the cycle is not normal. Usually endometriotic pain is very severe. It starts one week to 10 days before the menstrual cycle and lasts till the cycle is complete.

Close-up of a woman's legs
Hot compress can help with leg pain during periods. Image courtesy: Freepik

What can be done to get relief from leg being during periods?

Home remedies can help for mild pain in the legs during periods. Here are some remedies:

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  • Hot compress or hot water bath can help lower the inflammation and relax the muscles.
  • Low grade stretching exercises of the lower limbs and slow walk for about 30 minutes.
  • Ensure proper hydration during the menstrual cycle. You can sip on coconut water or any healthy beverages if not water.
  • Reduce salt, spices and sugar intake at least one week prior to menstruation. This can help reduce the inflammation in the muscles resulting in less or no pain during periods.

In case of any pathological conditions that cause severe leg pain during periods, make sure to get checked by your doctor.

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About the Author

Natalia Ningthoujam has written on various subjects - from music to films and fashion to lifestyle - as a journalist in her career that started in 2010. After getting stories from the crime scene, police headquarters, and conducting interviews with celebrities, she is now writing on health and wellness which has become her focus area. ...Read More

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