Listen To Your Legs. Leg Pain May Be A Potential Sign Of Peripheral Artery Disease
A little leg pain or soreness with exercise usually is normal. But severe pain, especially pain that appears when you’re only walking a short distance, may be a sign of a condition called peripheral artery disease. This condition, also known as peripheral artery disease, can make even simple actions like walking across the room a challenge. As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports, about 8.5 million Americans have peripheral artery disease, including 12 to 20 percent of people older than 60.
Peripheral artery disease doesn’t have to slow you down. Our diagnostic tools and treatment options at Cardiovascular Labs of America let’s us identify and address the causes of your leg pain to get you back on your feet.
The warning signs of peripheral artery disease
Peripheral artery disease involves the narrowing or blockage of blood vessels. The main cause of the disease is a process called atherosclerosis, in which fatty deposits build up in the blood vessels. Peripheral artery disease can occur in any of the body’s blood vessels, but it’s more common in the legs than the arms.
The classic and most common symptom of peripheral artery disease is leg pain. This may appear as pain in a specific area of the leg, such as in the calf or thigh—anywhere from the buttock and hip down to the foot. Weakness and leg cramps often go along with the pain.
You may especially notice these problems when you walk, though they can appear while resting as well. Everyone’s experience is different. I’ve had patients who could walk for a mile or so before they had to rest, while others experienced intense leg pain and cramps just walking to the mailbox. The pain, weakness and cramping are signs of poor circulation in the legs. Resting can improve circulation temporarily and relieve these symptoms.
Also Read: Leg Pain Can Mean Heart Danger
Other common peripheral artery disease symptoms can include
Changes in the color or temperature of the legs. Numbness or tingling in the legs. Toenails that become thick or opaque (unable to be seen through)
It’s possible for people with peripheral artery disease to develop ulcers in the toes or feet. This is because the narrowed blood vessels in the legs restrict blood flow to the feet, which makes it harder for the body to heal cuts, sores and other minor injuries.
As peripheral artery disease progresses, the symptoms get worse. Without treatment, peripheral artery disease can lead to serious consequences, including gangrene or even amputation of a leg. PAD disease in legs also can increase your risk for having a heart attack or stroke without proper care.
What to do if you have these symptoms
One of the big problems with peripheral artery disease is that people often don’t get help for it. They think it’s just a part of getting older, or maybe it’s their arthritis acting up. People with diabetes can mistake the pain of peripheral artery disease with diabetic neuropathy, a burning or painful feeling in the legs.
Don’t ignore these symptoms. Request an appointment with our incredible and compassionate team if you have leg pain while walking.
How we treat peripheral artery disease
If we catch peripheral artery disease early enough, it’s often possible to treat it through changes in your lifestyle. This can include creating a plan for healthy eating, smoking cessation and exercise, all of which can improve poor circulation and slow blockages from forming in the arteries.
These lifestyle changes are important. But they may not be enough to treat advanced cases of peripheral artery disease. In these cases, we may have to take action to restore the blood flow to the legs. We usually can do this through endovascular surgery, which involves minimally invasive procedures.