Is there a difference in the way leg pain presents itself if it’s from ovarian cancer as opposed to irritable bowel syndrome?

“Leg pain is not a common symptom of ovarian cancer,” says Teresa P. Diaz-Montes, MD, of the Gynecologic Oncology Center at Mercy Medical Center, Baltimore, MD.

“If leg pain is present, more likely the patient has pelvic pain and pressure.  The leg pain tends to be constant and not relieved by movement or rest.  The intensity of the pain could vary depending on the size of the pelvic mass.

“Leg pain is caused by compression of the pelvic mass on the pelvic side wall where the nerves that go to the leg are.

“The mass could also cause compression on the blood vessels, causing the leg to be more swollen when compared to the other leg.

“Another cause of leg pain could be the formation of blood clots.  Blood clots tend to be more frequent among patients with cancer.

“The pain is located in the calf area.  Increased swelling is also associated with formation of blood clots.  Blood clots are very dangerous because if dislodged, they can travel to the heart and lungs, causing sudden death.”

IBS Leg Pain

“Leg pain is not a typical complaint in IBS,” begins Nnenna C. Okpara, MD, gastroenterologist and director of endoscopy at the Center for Women’s Gastrointestinal Health, Women & Infants Hospital in Providence, RI.

“When present, however, it is mostly described as a muscular type of pain in the legs, though a few patients also report joint pain.

” No mechanism has yet been identified to explain this symptom, but certain anti-inflammatory medications have been successfully used for such patients.

“Again, this may represent an association of IBS with other comorbid conditions, rather than a specific cause/effect.

“Research has shown some association of IBS with fibromyalgia, a disease which involves multiple areas of pain throughout the body.

“Furthermore, ‘referred’ pain from abnormal intestinal movement could theoretically be sensed as originating from the lower extremities.

“Patients with constipation and IBS do sometimes describe sensation of numbness, or ‘pins and needles’ in one or both legs with hard bowel movements, which may due to impingement of stool-distended colon on the nerve tracts exiting the bottom of the spine into the legs.”

There are so many possible causes of leg pain, which is why discomfort that doesn’t go away should be evaluated.

Dr. Diaz-Montesdr. diaz-montes is associate director of The Lya Segall Ovarian Cancer Institute at Mercy Medical Center. Board certified in gynecologic oncology, she has conducted various clinical trials to advance the care of gynecologic cancer