Does the term “nutcracker syndrome” make you think of a holiday keepsake? This rare vascular disorder can cause pain and other symptoms but can be difficult to diagnose.\nWhat Is Nutcracker Syndrome?\nIn nutcracker syndrome, your left renal vein gets compressed by two nearby arteries in your abdomen. Your left renal vein carries blood out of your left kidney and into your inferior vena cava, your body’s largest vein, so it can flow back up to your heart.\nThe condition is called “nutcracker syndrome” because of how the arteries look as they compress the vein, like a nutcracker crushing a nut.\nRELATED:\u00a03 Heart and Vascular Conditions You Don’t Want for Christmas This Year\nNutcracker Syndrome Symptoms\nWhen your left renal vein gets compressed, blood cannot flow through it properly. Blood can pool and flow backward into nearby veins, causing swelling and leading to symptoms that can include:\n\nAbdominal (flank) pain\nBlood in your urine\n\nSymptoms of nutcracker syndrome that occur in women are:\n\nPelvic congestion syndrome, or varicose veins in the lower abdomen that can cause pain.\nHeaviness in the pelvic or genital area.\nPain with sexual intercourse.\nPainful menstrual periods.\n\nIn men, symptoms appear as varicoceles or enlarged veins in the scrotum.\nSome people have no symptoms, while others may have severe symptoms that affect them every day.\nRELATED:\u00a0What Is Vascular Disease?\nAm I At Risk for Nutcracker Syndrome?\nWhile nutcracker syndrome can affect anyone, it is most common in women in their 30s and 40s who are tall and slim. It can sometimes appear after rapid weight loss, or after pregnancy.\nNutcracker Syndrome Diagnosis\nNutcracker syndrome can be difficult to diagnose because its symptoms are similar to many other urological and gynecological disorders.\nOnce other conditions have been ruled out, your vascular surgeon may recommend imaging tests, like an ultrasound, CT scan, or MRI to screen for nutcracker syndrome.\nNutcracker Syndrome Treatment Options\nNutcracker syndrome can be treated, and treatments depend on your age, anatomy, and symptoms. In some cases, nutcracker syndrome may not need treatment, especially for patients who are:\n\n18 years old or younger, as the condition may resolve itself as the patient grows.\nAdults with mild symptoms.\n\nTreatments for nutcracker syndrome can include:\n\nRegular urinalysis, to check for blood in your urine.\nStenting, which uses a tube made of metal mesh to hold your vein open and allow for healthy blood flow.\nSurgery to relieve the pressure on your vein.\n\nTo learn more about nutcracker syndrome, contact the UPMC Division of Vascular Surgery at (412)\u00a0802-3333.