Peripheral artery disease (PAD) is a narrowing of the peripheral arteries.
The most common symptoms of peripheral artery disease (PAD) involving the lower extremities are cramping, pain or tiredness in the leg or hip muscles while walking or climbing stairs. Typically, this pain goes away with rest and comes back when you walk again.
- Many people mistake the symptoms of PAD for another health issue
- PAD often goes undiagnosed by doctors
- People with PAD have a higher risk of coronary artery disease, heart attack or stroke.
- Left untreated, PAD can lead to gangrene and amputation.
The good news for PAD patients
- PAD is easily diagnosed in a painless way.
- You can take control by leading a heart-healthy lifestyle
- Some cases of PAD can be managed with lifestyle changes and medication.
While many people with peripheral artery disease have mild or no symptoms, some people have leg pain when walking this is referred to as claudication.
The severity of claudication varies widely, from mild discomfort to debilitating pain. Claudication symptoms include muscle pain or cramping in your legs or arms that’s triggered by physical activity, for example walking, but disappears after a few minutes of rest. The location of the pain depends on the location of the clogged or narrowed artery. Calf pain is the most common location.
Peripheral artery disease symptoms include:
- Painful cramping in your hip, thigh or calf muscles after certain activities (for example walking or climbing stairs)
- Leg numbness or weakness
- Coldness in one of your lower leg or foot but not the other
- Sores on your toes, feet or legs that won’t heal
- A change in the color of your legs
- Hair loss or slower hair growth on your feet and legs
- Slower growth of your toenails
- Shiny skin on your legs
- No pulse or a weak pulse in your legs or feet
- Erectile dysfunction in men
If peripheral artery disease progresses, pain may even occur when you’re at rest. It may be intense enough to interrupt sleep.
When to see a doctor
Even if you don’t have symptoms of peripheral artery disease, you may need to be seen if you are:
- Over age 70
- Over age 50 and have a history of diabetes or smoking
- Under age 50, but have diabetes and other peripheral artery disease risk factors, such as obesity or high blood pressure
If you have leg pain, numbness or other symptoms, don’t dismiss them as a normal part of aging. Call us and make an appointment.