May-Thurner Syndrome: Symptoms and Causes

An elderly woman having her pulse checked

May-Thurner disease is a disorder that prompts your pelvis’ left iliac vein to become narrower due to the pressure coming from your right common iliac artery. Your left leg has the left iliac vein, which is your main vein. Meanwhile, your right leg’s main blood vessel is your right iliac artery. Veins transport blood back to your heart and arteries carry blood to your body.

Sometimes, your right iliac vein rests above your left iliac vein, which causes pressure leading to May-Thurner disease. The weight it puts on your left iliac vein is the reason why your blood will abnormally flow, and this can lead to severe consequences.

The Symptoms of the Syndrome

Unless it leads to deep vein thrombosis (DVT), May-Thurner syndrome commonly doesn’t show any symptoms. DVT is a blood clot that can either block or slow blood flow in your vein. DVT symptoms consist of discolored, warm or red skin, swelling, pain, enlarged veins, heavy feeling and throbbing or tenderness in your leg.

DVT from May-Thurner disease can even generate venous insufficiency, which will make it hard for your veins to deliver blood back to your heart. Meanwhile, symptoms of venous insufficiency include skin discoloration, leg swelling, leg pain and leg ulcers.

The Causes and Risk Factors of the Syndrome

As mentioned before, the pressure and location of the right iliac artery on top of the left iliac vein in your pelvis cause this syndrome. However, medical experts are still unsure why this occurs.

It’s also difficult to determine the number of people who have May-Thurner syndrome for it doesn’t show any symptoms. Although, DVT connected to May-Thurner syndrome is more prevalent in women aged 20 to 40, particularly after a while of inactivity or pregnancy.

Medical experts also refer to May-Thurner syndrome as Cockett syndrome, iliac compression syndrome or iliocaval compression syndrome. Now that you are more aware of its basic facts, you will be more aware of what your body is going through.