Peripheral Artery Disease: The Cause Behind Having Leg Pain

Blog Post
By South Valley Vascular
November 6, 2023

Do you have circulation problems in your legs that lead to numbness, weakness, and no pulse? These could be symptoms of a medical issue called peripheral artery disease (PAD). But what is peripheral artery disease? How do you know if you have it? Read below to learn more about this health problem.

What Is Peripheral Artery Disease?

Peripheral artery disease is a common circulatory problem in which narrowed arteries reduce blood flow to your limbs. This disease normally develops in the arms and legs. It’s discovered and diagnosed when there is not enough blood flow going to those extremities. PAD is a sign of the build-up of fat in the arteries. Treatments include exercising, healthy eating, and quitting unhealthy habits like drinking and smoking.

Peripheral Arterial Disease Symptoms

While many people with peripheral artery disease have mild or no symptoms, some people have painful legs when walking. Symptoms are often triggered by activity but disappear after a few minutes of rest. The location of the pain depends on where the clogged or narrowed arteries are. Calf pain is the most common.

Peripheral artery disease signs and symptoms include:

● Pain in the legs

● Cramps in one or both of your hips, thighs, or calf muscles after activities like walking or climbing stairs

● Leg numbness or weakness

● Coldness in your lower leg or foot, especially when compared with the other side

● Sores on your toes, feet, or legs that will not 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

● Pain, aching, and cramping when using your arms for knitting, writing, or other manual tasks

As PAD progresses, pain may worsen, occurring even when at rest or lying down. Sometimes the simple act of hanging your legs over the edge of the bed or walking may lessen the pain. If you have leg pain, numbness, or other symptoms, do not dismiss them as a normal part of aging. Call your doctor and make an appointment.

Even if you do not have symptoms of peripheral artery disease, you may need to be screened if you are:

● Over the age of 65

● Over the age of 50 and have a history of diabetes or smoking

● Under the age of 50 and have diabetes and other peripheral artery disease risk factors, such as obesity or high blood pressure

Diagnosis and Treatment

Diagnosing PAD starts with a physical exam that includes feeling the pulses in your limbs. You may be asked to undergo a noninvasive test called an ankle-brachial index. It will compare the blood pressure of your arms and legs. Once diagnosed, the doctor may recommend a walking program or surgery, depending on the severity of the disease. Lifestyle changes can also help with peripheral artery disease.

Learn More About PAD

At South Valley Vascular, we know that no one wants to live with pain, and it is our job to help. Give us a call today to set up an appointment at one of our five locations with our trained vascular surgeon. Start the next chapter of your life pain-free with South Valley Vascular.