Hemorrhoids are famous for causing symptoms such as itchiness, pain, and discomfort in the anal region. However, have you felt leg pain and you're wondering Can Hemorrhoids Cause Leg Pain? This article will explore some of the classic symptoms of hemorrhoids, whether your leg pain has to do with varicose veins, and what you can do about the pain that hemorrhoids and varicose veins are causing you.
What are They?
In the human anatomy, hemorrhoids are tissue membranes that line the walls of the rectum and anus. They become a problem when they are subjected to so much pressure that the blood vessels in them become inflamed with engorged blood.
There are a few types of hemorrhoids. Hemorrhoids in the rectum are referred to as internal hemorrhoids while hemorrhoids in the anus are external hemorrhoids.
Sometimes, internal and external hemorrhoids protrude out of the anus and these are called prolapsed hemorrhoids. The last type is thrombosed hemorrhoids which are hemorrhoids with blood clots in them.
Varicose veins are very similar to hemorrhoids in that they are swollen, enlarged, and twisted veins on the legs and feet. They are quite common and they affect about 23% of adults in the US.
What are the Symptoms?
The symptoms of hemorrhoids depend on the type so the following are the different types with their respective symptoms:
- Hard lumps in the anus
- Pain in the anus especially after bowel movements
- Discomfort while sitting
- Itchiness or irritation in the anus
- Painless rectal bleeding that is seen on stool, tissue paper, or in the toilet
- Sometimes internal hemorrhoids appear outside the anus when they prolapse
- Extreme pain due to the pressure of built-up blood
- Relief when the hemorrhoid bursts
- Bleeding when the hemorrhoid bursts lasting a few minutes
The common symptoms of hemorrhoids include:
- Veins on the legs that look twisted and bulging; they appear like cords
- The veins are blue or dark purple in color
- Aching or heavy feeling in your legs
- Pain in the legs gets worse with sitting or standing for long
- Throbbing, burning, or swelling of the lower part of your legs
- Muscle cramping
- The skin around the varicose vein discolors
Hemorrhoids develop when the veins in the anus and rectum are put under a lot of pressure and the blood flow in them is interfered with. Instead of blood flowing smoothly to the heart, some of it flows back and pools in these veins. This can happen because of many reasons and they include:
Pregnancy and Delivery
Many pregnant women suffer from hemorrhoids in their second and third trimesters of pregnancy. This happens because the increasingly growing fetus puts pressure on the pelvis so it strains the blood vessels in the rectum and anus.
Another reason many pregnant women suffer from hemorrhoids is because of their overactive hormones. This causes the abnormal swelling of blood vessels in the body and that’s why many of their body parts swell up including the face, hands, and legs.
Natural delivery often results in hemorrhoids forming in mothers who didn’t have them during pregnancy and aggravates hemorrhoids for those who already had them. This is because the pushing puts a lot of strain on the anus and rectum.
The good news is that hemorrhoids that develop during pregnancy and delivery clear not long after the delivery.
Straining in Bowel Movements
Constipation makes you struggle to pass hardened stool and this is one of the commonest, if not the commonest causes of hemorrhoids. It really strains the blood vessels of both the rectum and anus and they may end up swelling.
Being Overweight and Obese
Having a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 25 and over is described as being overweight while having a BMI of 30 and above is considered being obese. A study done between 2008 and 2009 revealed that an increase in BMI puts one at a 3.5% higher risk of getting hemorrhoids. The same way a fetus puts undue pressure on the pelvis, excess weight also strains the veins of the rectum and anus so they may end up swelling.
Chronic diarrhea is diarrhea that lasts for more than 2-4 weeks. The frequent passing of stool strains the tissues of the anus and rectum and their blood vessels might swell as a result. Wiping with course tissue every time you go to the toilet will also leave the anal area more inflamed.
The tissues of the rectum and anus weaken as you get older so they become susceptible to swelling when pressure is applied. This is why hemorrhoids are common in people older than 50 years.
Varicose veins develop because of weakened or damaged valves in the blood vessels of the legs. Blood, therefore, doesn’t flow to the heart as smoothly as it should; it keeps flowing back and pooling at the legs. The veins are forced to work harder to pump blood to the heart and sitting or sitting for long makes this even harder. Weakened valves not only allow blood to flow back but eventually, it starts flowing in the opposite direction.
Valves of the blood vessels can weaken or get damaged because of pregnancy, childbirth, constipation, sitting or standing for too long, deterioration with age, hormonal changes during menses, pregnancy, or menopause, obesity, and genetic predisposition.
Varicose veins actually make pre-existing hemorrhoids worse because they interfere with the blood flow to the heart in the lower regions of the body, the anus and rectum included.
How Are They Treated?
Some of the best home remedies for hemorrhoids include:
Soaking in a bathtub with warm water makes a big difference in relieving hemorrhoids. It soothes the pain, irritation, and discomfort. It also improves blood circulation in the anorectal veins and reduces inflammation. What’s more, it keeps the anal area clean to prevent infections that slow the healing process.
Most essential oils have anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and antimicrobial so they reduce inflammation, pain, itchiness, and speed up the healing of hemorrhoids when applied. Some of the best essential oils to use include clove, peppermint, horse chestnut, tea tree oil, and myrtle essential oils. Read more here.
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Pressing an ice pack on your hemorrhoids relieves the pain, itchiness, and inflammation. Wrap ice in a clean towel and place it on the hemorrhoids for about 15 minutes until you feel better.
When hemorrhoids remain stubborn after home remedies or you need to get internal hemorrhoids removed, medical procedures are the best option:
The doctor injects a chemical inside the hemorrhoid so that fibrous tissue that stops its flow of blood forms. It then dies and falls off.
Liquid nitrogen is used to freeze a hemorrhoid to harden it so that it loses its blood supply. It eventually dies and falls off.
Rubber Band Ligation
A surgical rubber band is used to tie off the base of a hemorrhoid to cut its blood supply. It dies and falls in a few days or weeks.
This is a surgical procedure where a hemorrhoid is incised off and it's mostly done on problematic, large hemorrhoids that don’t respond to other medical treatments. It’s painful so you’ll need to be put under and later take time to heal.
The following are the methods of treating varicose veins:
You can relieve the pain of varicose veins and prevent them from getting worse by exercising, avoiding tight clothes, taking breaks in between sitting and standing, and elevating your legs to improve blood flow.
You can get compression stockings from a pharmacy or medical supply store to wear all day. They squeeze your legs steadily to help the veins move blood more smoothly.
In this method, the doctor injects a salt solution into the varicose veins to irritate their linings so that they collapse and move close together. In a few weeks, the varicose veins fade away.
Laser treatment zaps powerful bursts of light into the varicose veins to make them close off. This makes them slowly fade away.
When the varicose veins are too large, they can be removed surgically. It’s a painful process that requires anesthesia.
Ligation and Stripping
This treatment involves making incisions on both sides of a varicose vein, tying off one end, inserting a wire on the other open side, and pulling the wire out together with the vein. This doesn’t affect the circulation of the blood because the deeper veins take care of it.
Here, the doctor removes small varicose veins by making many tiny punctures on your skin. Only the areas to be punctured are numbed and scarring is minimal.
In this procedure, a catheter with radiofrequency energy is inserted through an incision made above or below the knee. The radiofrequency energy heats up the varicose vein and makes its walls collapse shut.
In conclusion, there is no such thing as hemorrhoid leg pain. It’s more likely that the pain you feel is brought about by varicose veins. Thus, in addition to hemorrhoids, you may be suffering from varicose veins and you need to get treated for both.