Can Liver Problems Cause Leg Pain?

By Kimberly Ripley

Can liver problems cause leg pain? While the two distinct body parts don't sound too awfully much alike, the answer is "Yes." When the liver isn't working properly, the body becomes inflicted with edema. Edema is a form of fluid retention, usually found in the extremities, and it can be incredibly painful at times. While there are a number of causes for edema, the patient must seek medical intervention for the liver. Liver problems are nothing to take lightly and can result in far worse conditions than leg pain.

Function

Cirrhosis of the liver is a condition where the liver is slowly deteriorating and malfunctioning. Scar tissue begins to replace the healthy liver as it deteriorates. This scarring impairs the liver's ability to provide some very integral services to the human body, including controlling infections, removing toxins and bacteria from blood, processing medications, processing hormones, processing nutrients vital to the whole body, producing bile to absorb fat and cholesterol and processing vitamins that are fat-soluble.

Identification

Hepatitis C and alcohol abuse are the two main causes of cirrhosis of the liver, with obesity running a close third. The body can't survive without a healthy liver. Leg pain is just one of the symptoms of a diseased liver. As the liver fails to function properly, excess fluid builds up in the legs. The pressure of the buildup combined with the extra weight the legs are forced to bear causes pain.

Considerations

Patients can attempt to reduce the effects of the painful edema in the legs by trying one or more of the following options. Movement is essential to patients suffering from edema. Staying still will only cause the condition to worsen. Massage may be helpful since it may help to move the painful fluid. Elevating the legs for a half hour or more at a time has been known to reduce the swelling and thus the pain. And compression stockings or sleeves, when fitted properly by a professional, can force the fluid from the limbs. Bear in mind, however, that these treatments are only helping the symptoms of liver problems. The liver problem itself requires professional medical intervention.

Significance

Acetaminophen (known as non-aspirin pain reliever and brands like Tylenol) poisoning of the liver can also cause edema that creates leg pain. This liver problem can, in some cases, be treated if caught early. Patients would treat the edema symptoms the same as those resulting from cirrhosis or hepatitis C.

Effects

The effects of a diseased or damaged liver will go way beyond leg pain if left untreated or not treated properly. Since the liver is the largest organ in the human body and serves more functions than any other organ, it must be healthy for the rest of the body's systems to do their jobs. The liver produces heparin that prevents blood from clotting within the circulatory system, it and produces prothrombin and fibrinogen to keep blood in the rest of the body clotting properly.

Benefits

It may seem odd, but leg pain as a result of a liver problem may be a blessing in disguise. If no other liver symptoms have presented themselves-- and many times they don't until the disease process is well under way--the leg pain caused by edema may in fact serve as a warning to patients to seek medical help before the issue is exacerbated.

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