- By Dana Sparks
Women’s Wellness: Crippling chronic pain in her pelvis and beyond
As far back as 67-year-old Margaret Parry can remember, pain was a constant in her life. As a preschooler, achy legs and feet kept her awake. In adolescence, her menstrual cycles debilitated her. As a young mother, extreme pain and swelling in her legs and pelvis cast a shadow on each day.
"I'd get up in the morning, and I'd be great. By 3 or 4 in the afternoon, I'd start getting ornery, but I didn't know why," Margaret says. "When I was married and a stay-at-home mom, I was on my feet all the time. I didn't know other people's legs didn't hurt at night. I didn't know it wasn't normal. You don't say to your friends, 'Do your legs hurt you?'"
Margaret not only had crippling chronic pain in her pelvis, and pain and swelling in her lower extremities, she also had varicose veins in her legs. She developed deep vein thrombosis, or blood clots, as well.
Through the years, Margaret repeatedly sought medical attention for her health issues. Despite many interventions, such as a hysterectomy and varicose vein ablation, the excruciating leg pain continued as Margaret aged.
"I could wake up in the morning after not having been up for hours, and my left leg would be beet red and swollen," Margaret says. "By the end of the day, I would get so tired and my legs would hurt so bad that I needed to have my legs up."
In December 2018, however, Margaret's life changed dramatically after a meeting with Mayo Clinic interventional radiologist Dr. Grace Knuttinen, in the Department of Radiology. At Mayo Clinic, Margaret learned her health problems stemmed from one source — a compressed iliac vein. The vein compression, a condition known as May-Thurner syndrome, had caused blood to pool in her pelvis and lower extremities.